Thursday, December 15, 2011

Women breastfeeding in public: What's the big deal?

Media was abuzz last month when Natalie Hegedus was reprimanded by a judge in Michigan for discreetly breastfeeding her five-month-old son in the back of a courtroom. Now another mom, Simone dos Santos, has come forward after being scolded by two security guards for breastfeeding her four-month-old son in the hallway outside of a courtroom in Washington, D.C. She contributed an article to The Washington Post detailing her experience.

These stories are both getting national attention, and while everyone will have their own opinion about why this happened, I think it goes back to the general population's lack of knowledge about breastfeeding in public.

As I've said before when I've spoken about breastfeeding in public, it's important for moms to know their rights. Each state has different laws about breastfeeding in public, but in many states, it's a mom's right to feed her child wherever and whenever she needs to.

If every mom is aware of her rights, like Simone, she can help her family, friends, and employer become more comfortable and familiar with this completely natural and normal way for moms to feed their children.

Recent studies have shown that more moms are breastfeeding, and almost 75 percent of moms want to breastfeed. But despite this, sometimes the social pressures to breastfeed only at home or out of sight of the public are too much, and this might cause moms to stop breastfeeding before they're ready.

We need to take a look at our priorities as a country and work harder to support women who want to do the best they can for their child by breastfeeding. This is an issue for moms both in the United States and beyond. For example, after a breastfeeding mom in the U.K. was shamed for feeding her baby in a cafe, she organized a breastfeeding flash mob in Brighton today to bring awareness to the issue and support other breastfeeding moms.

We've covered a few breastfeeding sit-ins, and we support all moms in their efforts to educate their community about breastfeeding in public. Hopefully, more people will become aware and comfortable with the benefits of breastfeeding. In the meantime, we'll be doing our part to continue bringing awareness to this issue.

Is your community supportive of breastfeeding in public? Has it made any changes recently to increase support for breastfeeding in public?

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