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Stop Telling Breastfeeding Moms to Cover Up

Photograph by Twenty20

Another day, another distressing story in the news about a mom being harassed because she's feeding her baby. This time, a mother in the U.K. was having tea at a cafe when she was completely embarrassed by the manager of the establishment.

Victoria Jones had asked the cafe manager if it would be okay if she nursed her six-week-old infant and was told that it was totally fine. However, once she started feeding her child, that same manager trotted over and said she should cover up. When Jones questioned her, she was then told that she should also have a bit of dignity.

Understandably upset, Jones got her meal comped and left the premises, and probably won't be back. When the cafe manager was questioned, she admitted that she had asked the mom to cover up, and said that she has no problem with women nursing in her cafe — but good grief, please cover your boob up!

That's the crux of my argument. When you say, "I support breastfeeding, but…" you're making your acceptance of breastfeeding conditional and based on the mother catering to someone else's wishes — and you really don't support breastfeeding at all.

Look, I get it. Everyone has their own level of comfort when it comes to a mother feeding her child from the breast in public. There are those who are fine with it, and there are those who would prefer moms just stay at home already and gosh can't you just pump and put it in a bottle?

The truth is, nursing a baby is feeding a baby. Boobs are just boobs, and babies need to eat, and the combination of the two shouldn't be considered inappropriate or indecent. So no matter how weird it seems to you, it's a simple task of turning your head and looking away when a mom nurses her kid. The cafe owner said that the top of this lady's breast was visible. Okay. So she's uncomfortable with cleavage hanging out? Of any kind? Does she go up to a woman in a low-cut top and say that she should have more dignity?

I doubt it. It's a double standard, and women who nurse uncovered don't have any less class than those who drape blankets over their babies. If a mom feels better with a cover, that's great. If her baby freaks out and gets hot with one, then she shouldn't have to use one if she doesn't want to. If a woman's body doesn't respond well to a pump, or her baby doesn't know how to work a bottle, then that's okay, too. We're mammals, we feed our infants milk (often from the breast) and for the love of the flying spaghetti monster, please stop asking or insisting that moms cover up when they breastfeed their kids.

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