Breastfeeding Rights Under Fire This Week

It’s funny.  For someone who never breastfed and never wanted to, I’m a pretty fierce breastfeeding rights advocate.  This week, though, has been a week where a breastfeeding rights advocate will have a lot to do.

It seems like there’s always someone out there willing to quash another person’s civil liberties.  It doesn’t matter if it’s about racial equality, gender equality, marriage equality, or anything else.  If it doesn’t apply to them, then no one else should have it because it’s different from (and therefore somehow offensive to) someone else.

Breastfeeding Rights Under Fire This Week - Cloth Diaper AddictsBreastfeeding Rights and Instagram

Heather Bays of Toronto posted a selfie of her breastfeeding her 20 month old daughter.  The photo was reported for nudity.  She received a ridiculous amount of criticism for posting the photo.  Then her Instagram account, which she had used to chronicle her pregnancy and her daughter’s life, was suspended.

Why?  All because she had the audacity to ruin someone’s day with tits.

The good news is that Instagram did reinstate her account, less “any photos with nudity.”  I’m not sure if that includes the controversial breastfeeding photo or not.  It should.  I see more boobs on a trip to the mall than I saw with her breastfeeding.

What I do love about living in Canada is that breastfeeding rights are part of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Denying someone the right to breastfeed anywhere that a mother is allowed is illegal.  I don’t think it takes a great legal stretch of the imagination to expect that to pertain to photographs, too.

Breastfeeding Rights and the Peanut Gallery

The Fayetteville Observer has a section in their newspaper for “Cheers & Jeers.”  The locals write in a little sentence about something that they saw that was awesome (cheers) or something that sucked (jeers).

A mom on the Cotton Babies Flash Mob group shared this little gem:

Jeers to a woman who was breast-feeding her baby in the South Post Exchange Sunday afternoon. You weren’t using a blanket, so you were very exposed, as you sat in the hall across from a very busy barbershop. – Linda O’Neil, Fayetteville

Linda, you’re in North Carolina.  It’s the south.  It gets hot.  Even so, do you want to eat under a blanket?  The lack of airflow sucks.

As for the woman you attempted to shame, she wasn’t doing anything wrong.  I guarantee you that if she hadn’t fed her baby, you’d have been jeering her for the screaming racket her kid was making.  The sight of someone breastfeeding is so, so much easier to avoid (just turn your head a little to the right) than the sound of a baby screaming in hunger.  That’s a sound you can’t avoid, no matter where you look.

Regardless, she has rights.  Her baby has rights.  Breastfeeding rights are included.  So get over yourself.  I sincerely hope that the Fayetteville Observer posts some “jeers” to your idiocy next week.

Your Breastfeeding Rights Aren’t About Me

It’s pretty simple.  A mother’s breastfeeding rights aren’t about me, the woman next door, or anyone else.  As mothers, we have the responsibility to feed our children.  (It falls under the category of the bare minimum of “keeping the kids alive.”)  Some of us use bottles in the beginning, others use breasts.  That choice is a personal one that may happen for whatever reason.  However you slice it, though, no one has any right to try to prevent us from feeding our children.

Attempting to shame a person, whether for bottle feeding or exercising her breastfeeding rights, is just not cool.  Yes, in the United States, one has the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, but one does not have the right to freedom of consequences for exercising that right.  And in this case?  Exercising that right makes you a jerk.

Anyone who objects to how a parent nourishes her child, breast milk or formula, needs to get over it.

Have you ever had your breastfeeding rights (or right to feed your child in general) infringed upon?  How did you react?



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. Anastasia says:

    It’s not just about being hot. The reaction to having an object over their faces is life PRESERVING. Freak out, flail your arms & scream for help is the EXPECTED response for a life threatening situation. (A blanket over a baby’s face can smother them) Not to mention just plain uncomfortable. (even putting a blanket over the car seat can cause the air to become stale & hot & it feels terrible, yuck)

    But to put it plainly, a breastfeeding baby typically has MORE rights in most of the U.S. then my blind friend has to her seeing-eye dog. (she actually points that out to people who gripe, lol) But most people have been conditioned against it. & if as a mother it’s my JOB to keep my child calm & quiet in certain situations (public transit anyone) then HOW I do that is no one’s business. If a toddler can “break the rules” & have a bottle or sippy why can’t I use my no-spill, never-empty, hands-free to keep the rest of my family in line devices either? I’ve seen women on the bus in bikinis but I’m totally covered & someone will still squawk about my “indecency”. Usually the DRIVER corrects them! (lol, have fun with that one Suzi)

    • What I find comical about this whole thing is that in some places (particularly where I live), it is actually legal for women to go shirtless wherever a man can. No one ever actually DOES it, but still, it *is* legal. If it’s legal to just not bother with a top at all, then why have kittens because a kid is attached?

      • Anastasia says:

        Same thing here (sort of) People LIVE in bathing suits (the lady out selling coffee typically wears pasties) NO ONE complains about that but put on MORE clothing & a child & all heck breaks loose!

        Also with airlines.. Foreign Flight Attendants WELCOME nursing mothers, only the U.S. based carriers seem to complain……………..hmmmmm.

  2. I am so sad that people are still so judgmental when it comes to breastfeeding mothers. I am thankful that I never had to deal with this type of negativity while I breastfed my children in public. I always covered up even though I didn’t have too. The choice is our’s and not the offended party. People need to grow up and stop reporting a mom feeding her child, she normally doesn’t show more skin than someone who is wearing a bikini. So sad that people have to treat breastfeeding as gross and unnatural. 🙁

    I am glad that Instagram did the right thing and restored her account.

  3. Judith Martinez says:

    It’s unbelievable that modern Westerners are more squeamish abut breastfeeding in public then the Victorians were. We’re constantly barraged by sexual messages and modesty seems to be a value from a bygone era but people get all hung up over a baby eating.

  4. Rachel N says:

    I luckily have never had anyone say anything about me breastfeeding my babies. I usually do wear a cover just because I am more comfortable that way but not always. I have breastfed in restaurants, playgrounds, malls, church, and more. I am very fortunate that nobody has ever bothered me about it. With my first I would have been very hurt if anyone had said anything to me, now with my third I would just tell them to shove it, lol.

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