The Breastfeeding Debate: Get Over Ourselves Already or Get a Room?

December 29, 2011  |  

If you ran into Target on Wednesday to pick up your usual products, depending on where you were, you might have been surprised to run into woman after woman breastfeeding around the store in areas around the country. It all started when Houston-area mom, Michelle Hickman, was repeatedly asked to relocate her feeding to a fitting room after she was found sitting in a clothing aisle trying to discreetly breastfeed her child. According to, when she reported the incident, guest relations told her, “just because it’s a woman’s legal right to nurse a baby in public doesn’t mean she should walk around the store flaunting it.”

Not a good move. Girlfriend rallied up friends, set up a Facebook account to organize a “nurse-in,” and yesterday, women showed up at Targets all over the country ready to feed in public–no matter who was looking. From one participant to more than 50, different stores attracted different groups of women to take part in the nurse-in. However, the reaction seemed to be similar all over: a few funny looks, some support, and for the most part, a lot of indifferent people too busy trying to get some post-Christmas deals. They came, they saw, they breastfed, and they’re hoping their small but courageous movement will change some attitudes about the very natural and healthy action.

The breastfeeding debate is and has been a tough one for a long time. While most mothers (I won’t go as far to assume all) just want to freely breastfeed their children with no fuss or muss, a lot of people still seem to be uncomfortable with boobs going free in public, even if they’re only out for a minute for a child’s sake.

If you ask me (which I know you didn’t), I think a woman should be able to breastfeed her child when she needs to, even if it’s in public, without feeling like people are giving her the death stare. It definitely is a very natural thing and while it definitely was something I had to get used to/comfortable with when I was younger, I’m not phased by it anymore (maybe just surprised though when I turn around and see a boob I wasn’t expecting). A child has to eat, and a mother has to do what she has to do. I understand that.

However, my only issue is with why the recommendation of covering yourself with a small towel or even going into a fitting room to breastfeed for others who might be uncomfortable with it gets met with such a strong disapproving reaction from mothers? I feel the idea that what your child needs is more important than what a grown a** person who should get over themselves already thinks. But for those who might not want to take their older children into an aisle and encounter an unexposed boob, I just want to understand why having an area for women to breastfeed without being bothered, just as there is an area to change young children in public places, gets met with such ferocious opposition? Especially when some mothers don’t even try to play discreet and literally just have their boob out to see, even when the child isn’t feeding on it. Maybe making a mother move and somewhat “hide” gives the idea that breastfeeding is somehow shameful, even though it isn’t, making some want to combat that feeling. But still…

While the struggle of the breastfeeding mother is very real, and the grown men who Tweet and make stupid or sexual comments about it should cease, we all know you can’t force people to be comfortable with something they’re not comfortable with. You can tell people that they need to look at it as something as simple as feeding a baby with a bottle, but if they still don’t see it that way, they’re going to feel a way about–and therein lies the problem. Therefore, I’m wondering, is compromising by moving to a breastfeeding-friendly area really all that demeaning and bad for a mom? Feel free to school inquiring minds like mine below (but BE NICE).

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