Um … please don’t whip your boobie out while I’m eating here.

My husband and I went to dinner with some people at a steakhouse, and one of the guys at our table started complaining that the wife of a friend of his had nursed in front of him in her own house. I said, ‘Why? It was her house.’ And he said, ‘Well, you wouldn’t do that,’ and I said, ‘Sure I would. I’d do it in this restaurant, in fact.’ He was stunned, and meanwhile, his wife is sitting there in a low-cut sweater with all this cleavage, and I’m thinking, ‘It’s OK for his wife to show off her breasts, but he doesn’t like it if I nurse my baby?”

Ding ding ding! Showing cleavage = okay. Nursing your child in the bathroom of a restaurant = perfectly okay. Nursing your child at your table in a restaurant = SO not okay!

“They’ll say, you should stop [nursing] when they’re walking and talking. Or if they’re big enough to ask for it and lift up your shirt, that’s when you should stop. They seem preoccupied with the idea that a mother shouldn’t be nursing a toddler.”

Ding ding ding! I’m all for breastfeeding if that’s what a mom chooses. However, if a toddler walks up to a mom, lifts up her shirt, unleashes the snap on the bra strap, and says “Give me some numnums, I’m hungry,” then I kind of think maybe it’s time for some cow’s milk. But that could just be me.

I will say this about this woman who is perfectly content with nursing in public, she’s a brave chick to have her picture taken for the PG while she nurses her toddler.


  1. cityworker
    October 31, 2006 10:33 am

    uhmmmm…yeah. 13 months old. yeah…that just ain’t right. if your baby can hold a bottle and feed themself then it is time for something other than breast milk. *shudders*

  2. Kate
    October 31, 2006 10:42 am

    I don’t really have a dog in this fight, but most breatfeeding moms would argue that you wouldn’t eat in the bathroom, so why should their baby have to? It implies that breastfeeding is dirty and shameful. But yeah, if an older kid can eat other things, they don’t have to whip out the norks in public.

  3. Zsa
    October 31, 2006 11:29 am

    I was breastfed till I was 13 months old, but I also didn’t have teeth till I was 15 months old. And I assure you that my mother would have sooner turned her eyeballs inside out than done it in public.

    I am 100% for breastfeeding if you can do it (I would want to, mainly because I’m too effing lazy to measure formula & such) but I just believe this is something that should be done privately, not in the middle of the food court in Monroeville Mall. Some of these women who are pro-breast feeding are NUTS. They have the anti-smoking lobby beat by a mile. If they’d put as much effort into getting malls and public places to install clean, pleasant, private lounges where women could nurse as they do into ripping on other mothers who choose to bottle feed, we wouldn’t have the “feeding the baby in the bathroom” problem.

  4. L
    October 31, 2006 11:35 am

    So what’s the cut-off age for breastfeeding? Toddlers doing it creep me out a bit, but is a 13 month year old considered a toddler?

    Also, someday I’ll figure out what other people think is so nasty about a woman feeding her baby in public. Can someone enlighten me, please?

  5. pittgirl
    October 31, 2006 11:43 am

    I don’t know if it is the feeding, as much as it is the “hookup” if that makes sense.

  6. L
    October 31, 2006 11:51 am

    So that there is (sometimes) an exposed boob? Or getting the baby to latch on?

    I know I sound like I’m being difficult, and like the person above, no dog in this fight, because I kind of hate babies, but I’ve never heard a good reason against public breastfeeding besides the “ew” factor.

  7. pittgirl
    October 31, 2006 11:54 am

    Depending on the age of the kid, there is definitely the exposed boob as you attempt to get the baby to latch on. It just seems to me that you wouldn’t want your boob waving around in public any more than you would want a penis to, regardless of how brief that appearance is.

    I’m now going to sit here and wait to be crucified for comparing the breast of a nursing mother to a penis. It’s coming.

    I just couldn’t think of any other comparison.

  8. L
    October 31, 2006 11:58 am

    I getcha. You could have done the “you wouldn’t pee in public” thing, which probably would have garnered you a worse crucifixion (er, crucifixion level? whatever…)

    October 31, 2006 12:30 pm

    “Nursing your child in the bathroom of a restaurant = perfectly okay.”

    When you start eating in your meal in a filthy public restroom, I will allow my child to do the same. Any woman with 3 brain cells bouncing around together can nurse in public without turning it into a floor show.

  10. Ed(bert) Heath
    October 31, 2006 12:37 pm

    I don’t have a dog in this fight either, but I am always interested in what constitutes the current limit of “Common Sense”. After, no one thinks twice now if a woman wears a mini skirt or a tank top, yet that sort of thing might have landed her in jail 50 years ago (ok, maybe 100, thinking back to what I have read about the 1920’s.) Or more clearly, calling homosexuality a disease is at least considered impolite now in most of America, as is calling an African-American person “colored”. We look back at the fight over slavery and say “how could that have been allowed”. Then we turn the other way when confronted with rendition, endless detention and torture (well, after all, what *can* I do about it). This stuff is learned, and we have successfully unlearned several prejudices (after bitter, often costly fights, and we still cling to many prejud – um – di).
    I just ask you to consider how we will look at this in, say, 30 years. I don’t know how the science will come out (a skim of the article indicates some ambiguity), but if it does end up supporting breastfeeding … how important is our priggishness to us (even mine)?

  11. pittgirl
    October 31, 2006 12:58 pm

    LMMLAW, in my head, I was referring to the bathrooms in the nicer restaurants which have like chairs and sitting areas and couches.

    Were I a nursing mother heading to say Eat n’ Park for dinner and knowing my baby would need to eat … I’d probably pump a bottle or something.

  12. Zsa
    October 31, 2006 1:35 pm

    “Any woman with 3 brain cells bouncing around together can nurse in public without turning it into a floor show. ”

    Unfortunately, not all breastfeeding women possess the requisite cells. Again, I’m completely in favor of breastfeeding, just be discreet about it. I’m in favor of kids running around and playing and screaming at the top of their lungs, too, but not in the library. There’s a time and place for everything.

    And as far as the “science” of whether breastfeeding is best, I don’t think that has anything to do with the discussion on doing it in public.

    And not to OT, but just to point out that the new Qdoba is finally open downtown, and if anyone wants to breastfeed there it might be very uncomfy as there isn’t much room to sit. I am enjoying my naked burrito, however.

  13. K
    October 31, 2006 1:40 pm

    Having nursed twins (not both at the same time – that really is a freak show) I can say that it is very easy to keep it conservative. A simple blanket tossed over the sholder and baby’s head and no one even realizes that you are breastfeeding. This works very well for small babies. I agree that when they are old enough to eat other foods, save the nursing for at home because it is harder to be discreet as they get older. I only used a bathroom once – yuk – because I was in a dress for a wedding and had to practically take the whole thing off to whip ’em out.

    I think as more women breastfeed it will become more the standard. We are still feeling the effects of our parents, who for some reason couldn’t believe that breast milk could possibly sustain a life. My MIL was positive that my children would starve to death if I insisted trying to nurse them. I agree with Ed that this will probably be a non-issue as more people become educated about the issue.

  14. Karen
    October 31, 2006 3:23 pm

    So let me get this straight: It’s okay to ogle breasts as long as they’re not actually used for anything. But if a woman’s feeding a baby, her boob is suddenly filthy and disgusting.

    Why? And how hard is it to look away?

  15. Laura B
    October 31, 2006 3:48 pm

    Now I don’t know much about breastfeeding (guess I better soon since I am expecting in June), but isn’t that what breast pumps were created for??? So you can pump it into a bottle to feed the baby??? Cause if not I will definitely bottle feed instead! I am not feeding my kid in public! That’s gross. I have seen people with blankets covering what they’re doing and I still can’t stand to see that!

  16. Clarion
    October 31, 2006 3:48 pm

    God created breasts solely for the enjoyment of males. If you believe anything else you are a godless communist terrorist

  17. pittgirl
    October 31, 2006 3:54 pm

    Clarion, best comment of the day.

  18. Terri
    October 31, 2006 6:27 pm

    Laura B, I guess you’re going to be stuck bottlefeeding, because you’ve clearly got some misconceptions about breastfeeding. 1. Some babies will not take both breast and bottle. 2. Pumping is horribly annoying, much more so than nursing. 3. Milk can spoil after a few hours in a bottle. 4. Missing a feeding can not only decrease your milk supply, causing insufficient milk for the baby, but it can HURT. Sorry your baby will be missing out on a superior form of nutrition.

  19. Tina
    October 31, 2006 7:25 pm

    I can’t believe that the people who left comments about breastfeeding being “gross”! How incredibly ignorant! They are probably fine with women walking around showing their g-string and half their butt crack in public but are SO shocked to see a glimpse of a breast for a nursing baby! Magazine covers in the grocery store show more breast than the typical nursing mother. Get a life folks! If you don’t want to see it, mind you own business and look somewhere else!

  20. Me in Dormont
    October 31, 2006 9:59 pm

    I breastfed my (now-13-month-old) boy until he was 11 months old and here’s how I see it:

    It’s pretty uncomfortable flashing your boob in public, especially after years of Catholic grade- and middle- school.

    There are some mothers who can breastfeed effortlessly and discreetly under a blanket. I’m not one of them. When my boy and I breastfed, it was like Laurel and Hardy under a quilt.

    We spent A LOT of time in cars and in bathrooms and sometimes it was not pleasant. There was one time when my then-four-month-old boy and I were breastfeeding under a blanket in the lounge of a women’s bathroom in a Cleveland country club. A woman came in and said, “Gross! Doesn’t your kid take a bottle?” I said, “No, he won’t take a bottle.” The woman replied “You should try harder.”

    Keep in mind, this was last winter, not 20 years ago.

    I’m not keen on breastfeeding in public (I guess I’m a prude). Luckily, many kids feed on a 2-, 3-, or a 4-hour schedule and you can work around it. But, it would be nice to have nicer accomondations than nasty handicap stall in a Century III Mall bathroom.

    On the other hand, my kid was never sick during his first year of life, which I credit to breastfeeding.

  21. Me in Dormont
    October 31, 2006 10:12 pm

    Oh yeah, and for Laura B …

    You’ve got a lot of growing up to do before June.

    First of all, many doctors don’t advocate women bottle feeding their kids within the first six weeks if they intend to breast feed their kids later. Some (but not all) believe in nipple confusion. So, in other words, pumping is out for you in the first six weeks.

    Also, the things you think of as gross and icky will quickly fade away after you spend 24 hours with your legs in the air and 8 hours grunting and screaming in front of strangers.

    Keep in mind … I was a woman who rarely wore a swimsuit in public before I had my boy.


  22. PittCheMBA
    November 1, 2006 12:36 am

    Check this out, the Allegheny County Health Department issued their Breastfeeding Friendly Awards, The 2006 Public Breastfeeding Friendly Place Award was awarded to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium. I will not comment on this.

  23. Slytheringrrl
    November 1, 2006 8:46 am

    Speaking as a mom who nursed her daughter till slightly over age two (though I admit by that time it was 99.9% at home), I had no trouble nursing in public. Nobody ever said anything. Either I was more discreet than I thought, or everyone was more disturbed with the idea of a crying baby than a nursing baby. Or people weren’t nearly as interested in me and what I was doing in general as I thought they were. Which was a little bit of a shame, I have to say, as I had a whole list of snappy putdowns and smart remarks, and I never got to use them! :-)

  24. Ms. Caroline
    November 1, 2006 10:06 am

    You know what they say – Opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one! :P

  25. Bob
    November 1, 2006 11:05 am

    Whipping out and using a cell phone while I’m eating? Yeah, that bothers me. A nursing mother whipping out her boob? Not so much.

  26. pittgirl
    November 1, 2006 12:42 pm

    I’m going to come to Laura B’s defense because this is a person about to have a baby in the next year and I think all this “You suck, grow up, happy pushing, you’re giving your baby inferior nutrition” talk is going to freak the dear out.

    We all know PittGirl has lots of sisters and that my friends, means lots of babies. While there is such a thing as nipple confusion, two of my sisters were told to supplement their breast feeding with bottle feeding due to a limited milk supply. The babies took both breast and bottle fine.

    In addition, if Laura’s opinion is that breastfeeding in public is gross, then let that be her opinion. I’m not sure that makes her immature because LOTS of people have that opinion and they can’t ALL be immature can they? Maybe they just are grossed out by it.

    And pumping milk, according to the sisters, is not that annoying once you get the hang of it. Same as nursing.

    The point is this, every mother should do what she finds best for her situation and her life. If that means nursing in private, so be it. If that means nursing in public, so be it.

    Bottle feeding a baby doesn’t make ANYONE a bad mother, otherwise, the adopted babies in my family are now stuck with the baddest moms on the planet.

  27. Funky Dung
    November 1, 2006 2:12 pm

    The reaction against the “that’s gross” crowd was so strong because there are lots of women who are tired of being treated like lepers for doing what’s completely natural and only in recent history frowned upon. If you are harassed, or witness those you care about being harassed, enough times, you eventually get a little cranky and short-tempered. Surely there are more diplomatic ways to convey their message, but bad delivery doesn’t mean the message is wrong.

    Anyhow, for what it’s worth, I’m in your corner, gals. God bless you and your well-fed children. :)

  28. Laura B
    November 1, 2006 4:09 pm

    Sorry I even made the comment!!! Thank you Pittgirl for defending me. And yes I do think seeing G-strings and thongs showing out of someone’s jeans is “gross” too. I don’t want to see that!! If you think that’s bad, here’s one for ya. A couple years ago we went to Kennywood and was sitting at the tables by the Potato Patch fries and my 3 year old nephew was sitting on the ground playing with rocks or whatever it was he was doing and me and my husband look over at this older guy sitting right by my nephew in short shorts with “one of his boys” sticking out of his shorts. Yes people, that is “gross” too!!

  29. jammer
    November 2, 2006 8:05 am

    Points to consider:

    1. If you have been told to supplement with formula, you don’t have all the facts. My wife had that problem and a local doula told her about some homepathic herbs that would boost her milk supply. We were dubious at first but you wouldn’t believe how well it worked. Look for something called “blessed thistle” at your local herb store.

    2. No synthetic formula made has ever duplicated the nutritional benefit that mother’s milk provides. The formula companies will even tell you this on the label. With that in mind, why in the world would a woman not want to breastfeed?

    3. Who cares if a woman breastfeeds in public? My wife does it when she needs to and we’ve never had a problem. Of course she doesn’t wield her breast like a lightsaber and attract attention to herself either. There are tons of arguments for and against breastfeeding in public but they all boil down to one unassailable fact: Americans are uptight. Go spend ten minutes in Europe and you’ll see more boobs during that time than you will in a year in America.

  30. Slytheringrrl
    November 2, 2006 9:02 am

    Jammer…lol…”wield her breast like a lightsaber” :-) Now I have an image of Mrs. Jammer leaping up and shouting “You have no hope, dark forces of malnutrition, for I am armed with the mighty power of breastmilk!”

    Laura B: Might I suggest a very good book I read while pg? It’s called “So That’s What They’re For” and had some very helpful and realistic advice for nursing.

  31. Laura B
    November 2, 2006 9:31 am

    And may I just say that as a new mom-to-be (yes I do have alot of growing up to do), as far as I know babies don’t come with instruction manuals so of course I have no idea what I am doing. I have been reading many books and websites in the last two months. Of course I am probably going to go by the advice of my friends, family, and doctors as to how to do everything I need to do.

  32. Zsa
    November 2, 2006 10:34 am

    I think a lot of people commenting are merging two issues into one:

    1. Whether breast feeding is best for the baby and mom.

    2. Whether moms should breast feed in public.

    You can believe unequivocally in #1, but not #2. That seems to be getting lost in this and any other breast feeding debates I read online.

  33. Funky Dung
    November 2, 2006 1:21 pm

    Well, if you’re a woman who believes #1, those who reject #2 will want you to hide as though you’re doing something dirty and sinful. Nursing in public tends to just happen as a matter of convenience and/or necessity. Furthermore, those who reject both #1 and #2 will insist that if you must feed a child in public, you should do so from a bottle. IOW, you can’t really bring up #1 by itself; #2 always comes up.

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  35. rich
    June 6, 2008 6:53 pm

    im all for anything that gets women to expose their breasts