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Monday, September 7, 2009

Breastfeeding Moms Hold Nurse-In

Dozens of women gathered in Lincoln Square Friday to publicly breastfeed their babies in a nurse-in protesting against harassment.

Rogers Park mother Lauren Trost says she was threatened when breastfeeding her infant son last month at a public fountain in Lincoln Square. Illinois law ensures that women can breastfeed, without a cover-up, in public. Friday's demonstration was intended as a very public affirmation of that right (Huffington Post, 9/4/09).

Since I have been Ecological Breastfeeding, I nurse on demand and I don't use bottles or pacifiers. As you can imagine, this means that I pretty much take my baby with me everywhere I go, unless I can go and come back in a very short time.

As a result, I definitely am a proponent of public nursing and was a little appalled that this Rogers Park mother was harassed for nursing her baby on a park bench. Breast are for nursing. Nursing is natural. Furthermore,when my kids gotta eat, my kids gotta eat, right?

The women in the nurse-in commented on the fact it is the over-sexualization of breast in this country that causes people to view breast as "men's toys" instead of the equipment God has given us to nourish and comfort our children. I agree with that statement, but after reading more into this story I discovered a twist.

Lauren Trost, the woman who was threatened said that she was asked by the other women:

“...‘Do you have a blanket?’” Trost recalled Friday. “I said, ‘It’s 90 degrees out -- of course I don’t have a blanket.’”

The offended woman threatened to call the police, Trost said.

“She was very unhappy that I continued breastfeeding--so unhappy that she approached all of the other women on the benches and said, ‘Look at that woman. It’s indecent and it’s illegal,’” Trost recalled(Chicago Sun-Times, 9/4/09).

Then a man who was interviewed nearby the nurse-in said:

“I just don’t think it’s proper for women to show their breasts out in public unless they’re on the beach,” said Jeff Hooker, 47, recently unemployed and living in Lincoln Square(Chicago Sun-Times, 9/4/09).

AH-HA! It seems like this debate is not as much about public nursing as it is about modest-public nursing!

While I am all for public nursing, I don't think that public nursing is an excuse for flashing! If you are nursing your baby in public without a blanket or a nursing bib, then I can see how others would feel uncomfortable. Furthermore, I think that if women were more discreet and modest while they nursed in public, it may be more accepted by the general public.

Even when it is hot outside, a thin receiving blanket or nursing bib can help a mother nurse modestly in the heat. I have sat at a table with a blanket over me while nursing in public, and strangers have come up and held an entire conversation with me, never realizing that I was not just holding a sleeping baby under the blanket! When I didn't have a blanket , I have sat in the air-conditioned car and stood up in a public bathroom stall in order to feed my baby while out. Wearing the right clothing and nursing bras can also aid in the feasibility of modest-public nursing.

Breastfeeding is God's design for natural mothering. When it is done modestly, we can actually glorify God by being examples of women who are nurturing, comforting, and bonding with their babies in a society that frowns on children and has lost sight of the importance and dignity of motherhood.


  1. I agree that it is important to be modest when nursing, but I also feel like our culture is twisted. The man commented that women should not show breast unless at the beach. Actually, many people including me, think that is not modest at all. I feel like if there was ever a time when a breast should be seen is when a baby is being nursed. Again, I dont think you should purposely flash others when nursing,but people also get offended just at the thought that you are nursing a baby in public. Even when covered. It is sad that our country thinks it is more appropriate to walk down the street with clevage showing or to be on a billboard with only your nipples covered than to nurse a baby in public.


  2. The man's comment about seeing breasts on the beach being okay really is the problem. He didn't have any problem with breasts unless they were being used for their intended purpose. He is twisted.

    I have had someone ask me to cover up when nothing was showing! It was what I was doing, not how I was doing it, that caused consternation.

    I don't usually feed my current nursling in public, she refuses to be modest about it. All of my other 5 nurslings did and I very rarely used a blanket and I believe I was modest about it.

    So I disagree that it was about modesty, it was about the act, at least for most people. And the women who made a scene was just wrong, that did not help the situation and it didn't make her look very good either! :)

  3. Well said. Just found your blog; it's lovely!!

  4. Darnetta-

    I agree that the culture is twisted. I agree that the man who made the comment about it being okay for women to show their breast at the beach is totally warped in his ideas about modesty/breast etc.

    I have also had people gawk at me even when I was nursing modestly because of the "thought" of my nursing. It is sad!

    Thanks for adding your comment on this!

  5. Joyful Momma-

    Thanks for giving your thoughts on this. I agree with you about the man who made the comment!

    I do think that there are some people who would be okay with public nursing if it is done modestly and there are others who are just against the whole "idea" of it, which is problematic!

  6. Tracey-

    Thank you! I'm glad you stopped by!

  7. I believe its accurate to say that breasts are sexual-- which is perfectly normal and holy in the context of marriage as outlined in Song of Solomon. Likewise, breastfeeding is completely normal, natural, and godly as there are countless references to it in the bible. I think the problem is our society is contrary to God...and the things of God. period.

    At first glance I thought "Yes, they should protest! They can't tell me I am not allowed to do what God has created my body to do to nourish and bond with my child."
    Then, I started to think buried in this debate is the ever present feminist ideology. Some believe "its my body I can show it to whoever I want whether it be while breastfeeding or wearing my favorite tank top." I support breastfeeding and believe its the best start you can give your child. However, I am hesitant to join in "protest" like these because usually its not based on moral convictions. Its perfectly legal to breastfeed in public uncovered. The question is it morally expedient?


Your ideas, questions, and comments are welcome!