Pope takes stance on public breastfeeding

Making breastfeeding in public acceptable and easier

Making the news from time to time is a story about a woman who was asked to leave a public place because she was breastfeeding. We have recently seen stories about moms in stores, airports and restaurants who were told to leave or to nurse in a bathroom.

Breastfeeding mothers also often are subjected to stares and negative comments. Some of the mothers I work with view breastfeeding in public as a huge barrier that is very difficult to overcome. In fact, some moms are afraid to even try breastfeeding due to their concerns with nursing their baby outside the privacy of their own home.

Pope Francis recently invited mothers to breastfeed in the Sistine Chapel, in the heart of the Vatican. He told them during a recent baptism service, “You mothers, go ahead and breastfeed, without fear.” When a baby needs to eat, a baby needs to eat.

Breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby, and there is no shame in it. A nursing mother, by law, is allowed to breastfeed in any place she is allowed to be. What, then, are some ways you can make breastfeeding in public easier?

  • While there is nothing that says you must cover up, some mothers feel better doing so. Keep a breastfeeding cover-up, a blanket or a scarf handy so you can breastfeed more discreetly.
  • Wear clothes that allow easy access to your breasts. Try a knit shirt under a cardigan in colder weather. In the summer, wear a light, billowy top over shorts.
  • Out shopping? Look for a dressing room with a chair. Many larger department stores have a lounge connected to their restrooms. Malls, airports and other large public venues also have started to designate breastfeeding rooms for their patrons.

See more tips on how to make breastfeeding easier.

More moms in Kentucky are giving breastfeeding a try, but we still have work to do — Kentucky ranks well below the national breastfeeding average. If you see a woman breastfeeding in public, remember that the law allows her to breastfeed anywhere.

If you see someone breastfeeding:

  • Don’t stare
  • Don’t ask her to stop, move elsewhere or cover up
  • If she speaks to you, show support; tell her she’s doing a great thing for her baby
  • If your children ask questions about a nursing mom, educate them. Be matter-of-fact and urge them not to laugh, stare or act inappropriately. Say, “She is feeding her baby,” and answer their questions.

If you are a nursing mom and have a negative experience while nursing in public, there is help. Best for Babes, a nonprofit breastfeeding promotion/mother support organization, has a hotline for such issues. Call (855) NIP-FREE for support and help in understanding your rights.

Learn more about returning to work while breastfeeding.

Do you know about the Baby Bistro & Boutique at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital? Find everything you need for breastfeeding all in one place, including access to lactation consultants.

  • Convenient one-stop shopping for breast pumps and parts, breastfeeding bras, nursing pillows and many other items that make life easier for breastfeeding moms
  • A certified lactation consultant available by appointment to answer questions and educate new moms on how to properly use the equipment
  • Breastfeeding services, including individual counseling, breast milk analysis to determine fat and caloric content, and follow-up for infants with poor weight gain
  • Services for moms with special needs, such as feeding multiples, hearing impairment, vision impairment and needing language interpretation
  • Services for babies with special needs

The Baby Bistro & Boutique is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call (502) 899-6530.