Breastfeeding in Public

Most new mothers worry about the idea of nursing in public. While we at Bebe au Lait believe women should have the right to nurse in any place where they see fit, there are a surprising number of people and organizations that do not share this belief. Most of these anti public breastfeeding arguments boil down to the fact that the breast is exposed, and as such, can be considered offensive. The voices on the other side of the argument deny these claims, and of course have several arguments to counter the anti public breastfeeding movement.

Let’s take a quick look at these arguments:

Anti-Public Breastfeeding Movement says:

  • Breastfeeding requires baring a breast, and as such, can be considered offensive.
  • Breastfeeding releases bodily fluids, and is not appropriate for the public.
  • Breastfeeding attracts too much (wrong) attention.

Pro-Public Breastfeeding Movement says:

  • Because it is essential to nurse a baby several times throughout the day, it is not always practical to nurse in private.
  • Private spaces (such as bathrooms) are not always clean and comfortable, or even set up properly to allow women to breastfeed.
  • The breast is not exposed during breastfeeding, as the baby usually covers the nipple, areola, and lower portion of the breast.
  • Babies have the civil right to be fed when necessary, and mothers have a civil right to provide breast milk to their babies whenever necessary.
  • Women should not be ashamed of breastfeeding, or the attraction it creates.
  • The law is mostly on our side.

We have now seen both sides of the argument, and you probably already know what side you’re on. Let’s take a look at the legal side of the argument, and more specifically the laws governing public breastfeeding.

In general, the law is on the side of women who choose to breastfeed in public. However, here are some important facts to consider:

Private property is different from public property. In other words, owners of private property have the right to decide what appropriate behavior on their own property is. Because of this, some businesses have been known to deny women the right to nurse on their property. Always be respectful of a private property’s owner’s policies on breastfeeding.

Nursing in public is likely to draw attention to you at some point. Please understand that some people have strong opinions about this practice, and by breastfeeding in public, you may be subject to negative reactions, comments, or stares.

In many cases, the argument against public breastfeeding is nullified if some sort of cover-up is introduced. You will find that businesses are much less likely to have a problem with you breastfeeding on their premises if you cover up. In addition, you will likely receive fewer negative reactions and fewer stares if you cover up.

For a detailed summary of the laws in place governing public breastfeeding, please click over to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ page about the 50 states’ specific breastfeeding laws.

If you do choose to nurse in public, let’s take a look at some courtesies and solutions you can extend to those around you while engaging in public breastfeeding.

  1. Please try to be discreet in public. While we believe in a woman’s right to decide how much (or how little) to cover during nursing, many people do not share the same view. It does not help our position if we offend the people we are trying to convince.
  2. If nursing on private property, please ensure it is OK with the owners or managers of the property. If you happen to be a patron at a business, please be respectful of the policies in place. However, don’t forget about your own position! Make it known that you have no intention of returning or referring your friends to a business that discriminates against you choosing to breastfeed on their property.
  3. Try to avoid arguing with people who take offense to breastfeeding in public, as it will likely anger the offended person, upset your baby, and do nothing for your cause.


Our Bebe au Lait nursing covers are excellent solutions for women who wish to breastfeed in public without exposing the breast to people in the vicinity. Even some of the anti-public breastfeeding crowd has embraced our nursing covers as a solution for mothers who wish to nurse in public.

We have a wide variety of designs available under two brand names: Bebe au Lait, and Hooter Hiders.

The opinions expressed by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Bebe au Lait or any employee thereof. Bébé au Lait is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers.

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