Public Breastfeeding and Mommy Wars – Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I hate it when public breastfeeding becomes a topic of discussion.  Absolutely.  Loathe.  It.  Why?  Because public breastfeeding seems to ignite the mommy wars, and either way, someone is going to either feel bad over something or someone will try to make someone else feel bad over something.

Today, I saw it on LiveJournal.  A mom posted about how she was pretty ticked because a bookstore employee in the children’s department acted like she was a deviant because she was nursing her child.  The employee actually made more of a scene with telling the mom that she was exposing herself, blah blah blah than the mom did with breastfeeding.  (And she was taking pains to be discrete without burying her kid’s head under a blanket.)

My first thought, of course, was that public breastfeeding is a legally protected right all over Canada and in the majority of the United States.  The mother was in a state that did specifically allow for public breastfeeding.  She handled it very nicely by letting the manager know that there was an incident; she even refused to identify the employee so that the employee wouldn’t get in trouble or lose her job.

Of course I was outraged on her behalf.  Even though I don’t breastfeed.  Even though I have my own mental hang ups that completely and utterly prevented me from breastfeeding.

I know that I’m not alone in my hang ups.  I’ve made enough progress where someone else breastfeeding no longer bothers me, but other people haven’t.  When some shared that they were uncomfortable with breastfeeding and recognized that it was their own hang up (and that they had no right to expect others to adjust in order to cater to their own issues), people dogpiled on them.

And that bothered me because I’m one of them.

Some of the ones that stung the most were “Bigotry and ignorance doesn’t get any sort of pass because you were ‘raised’ with it. So please stop trying to make excuses for them. People are also raised around racism, sexism, homophobia and many other ugly mentalities, none of which are reasoned away by ‘they were raised that way! It’s not their fault!’” and “Yes, actually, you can help feeling that way. The fantastic part about being human is that we’re allowed to change our minds and our feelings.  You can say that you don’t want to change your opinion on something, but you are completely capable of doing it.”

Seriously, if it were that easy, then there would be no phobias, et cetera.  No one would need therapy for anything ever.  What?  You’re pathologically terrified of spiders?  Just stop!  You can completely change.  Something triggers a panic response due to something that happened to you in the past?  You’re completely capable of just magically getting over it.  You can also stop being depressed, stop drinking/overeating/abusing drugs/whatever else by just deciding that it’s fine.

And I hope that we all know that this is complete and utter B.S.

In short, there are complete and utter schmucks that are determined to make someone else feel bad on either side of the debate.  And this is why I hate the mommy wars.  Can’t we all just get along and focus on raising our own kids?

Why does it have to be one or the other?

Is there any reason that we need to draw battle lines when it comes to feeding our kids?

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.


  1. I breast fed my son till he was two but I never did it in public. I always worried what people would think and once he was over one even when people were in my home they made comments. Making the choice to breast feed is a very personal one and I too had hang ups but I trained myself to be ok with it. Even though its recommended to breast feed till two most women stop way before that because people make such a big deal out of it.

    • In your *home*? Have these people no manners? As for hangups, mine were to the point that I vomited when I tried to breastfeed my daughter. 😛 It was not psychologically healthy. Good for you for keeping it up for as long as you did!

  2. My wife breastfed all eight of our children (yes, I know, “eight, really?”) My oldest son is married and they just had my first grandchild. My daughter-in-law is not breastfeeding my granddaughter. I have to admit I had a moment of “Dang,” but I got over it. My daughter-in-law is wonderful and my granddaughter looks to be on track to be just as beautiful breastfed or not.

  3. I’ve got a 10 month old baby and still breastfeeding. I’ve never breastfeed in public either as I’m rather ‘shy’ about it! I’ll rather took a bottle with me. That is my personal choice… that said, I admire ladies who breastfeed in public.

    But at the end of the day, there will always be people of extremes no matter what we say or do!

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