I remember the day I first cared about the topic of breastfeeding in public. My daughter was 3 months old and I went to see my older daughter compete in her school’s spelling bee. In an effort to not offend anyone I turned away and covered both her and myself with a blanket. The next day, I received a call from the school reprimanding me for my behavior. I had simply been trying to feed my hungry baby!
Thankfully, I knew the law*. I knew that wherever I was allowed to be, I was allowed to nurse my daughter. I knew that breastfeeding in public is not considered indecency and that any accidental exposure of the breasts to a child is not considered sexual abuse of a minor. I knew these things and I fought back.
After getting over my shock, I called the Florida Breastfeeding Coalition. This coalition acts as advocates for breastfeeding across Florida. They wrote a letter outlining the law to not only the principal of the school, but also the superintendent of the district, and the school board’s attorney. In addition, I was encouraged to call and speak to the attorney myself. He was woefully unaware of the laws regarding breastfeeding in public.
After several years of working with women, I have found that most don’t realize there are laws in place to protect them while they feed their children in public. A quick Google search easily pulls up any laws for any given state.
The main issue that we need to address is that breastfeeding in public is never done for show. These parents are simply trying to feed their child(ren) in the manner they feel is best for their family. Whether they are covered or not, their right to feed their baby in public is protected by law. So, if you happen to be out and about, and you see someone nursing their baby, either thank them for normalizing breastfeeding, or move along.
*Each state has its own set of laws regarding breastfeeding in public.