Breastfeeding in public: "You can do it?" Academic Article uri icon


  • On a regular basis there is an outcry about a mother who has been told to cover up or move away from a public area while she is breastfeeding. Mothers should feel free to breastfeed whenever they need to. However, the increasing market for "nursing covers" to hide the breast while feeding is evidence of changing perceptions. Discomfort with the idea of breastfeeding in public has been cited as a reason for some women choosing not to initiate breastfeeding or planning a shorter duration of breastfeeding. Other women are choosing to express and bottle-feed their expressed milk when they are in public. In many cultures today there is a conflict between the concept of breast milk being pure (like tears), and contaminated or "dirty" (like genital secretions or vomit). In these settings the female breast may be considered primarily a sexual organ, and therefore a private part of the body, which needs to be invisible in the public arena. In order to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration and to reduce health inequities breastfeeding needs to be more visible. Let's strive together to make breastfeeding in public unremarkable.

publication date

  • 2014