Just another Minnesota Mom blog.

Should you ask Permission to Breastfeed in Public?

Posted: July 19th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Breastfeeding Blog Hop | Tags: Breastfeeding, Nursing in Public | 6 Comments »

Welcome to the Breastfeeding Blog Hop, I know it’s *really* late but it’s *really* crazy at my house so I’m happy to be getting this post up today at all.  And it’s a doozy of a topic this week!

For those of you who are new to the hop- this is a weekly hop, hosted by myself, Happiness Redefined and The Gnome’s Mom.  Each week we have a different topic pertaining to breastfeeding and you are welcome (and encouraged!) to link up your post, new or old, as long as it jives with the weekly topic.

So- this week I am asking: Should you (or would you) ask permission to nurse in public?

Nursing in Public (NIP) is one of these sticky subjects that is all over the news pretty much all the time.  Usually someone (manager, security guard, maintenance man) tells a mother she has to pack it in and either find her way to the restroom or hit the dusty trail: cover up your boobs!  Indecent exposure!  It’s making me uncomfortable!

Ugh.  Seriously?

I didn’t NIP to prove a point.  I nursed where it was comfortable for me, when my child needed to nurse.  I wasn’t out to give anyone a peep show.  Although, after a certain point, that nursing cover tended to land me in some sticky situations as flailing arms and legs under a cover tend to draw lots of attention.

Would I ask permission to nurse in public?


Not in the sense of “If you tell me I can’t, I won’t” anyways.

I might politely say something to whomever I am with like- “I’m going to nurse him, do you mind?” to which anyone worth their salt is going to nod their head and oblige.  But it’s more like an opening line, a warning if you will: avert your eyes if you will be so offended!

(And I’m at least polite enough to give a warning to those I am with, even if it’s kind of lame and unoriginal.)

Kind of like how every customer at Target asks employees if they work there when they need help finding something*.  They don’t really question whether or not you work there, they just don’t know what else to say and it feels impolite to just ask a random person where something is without a little small talk first.**

Back to the topic at hand!

I would never ask say, the person at the service desk at Target if I could breastfeed in the store, or some random person at a park or the people at the next booth at a restaurant.  What if they said no?

Number 1, by law, I can breastfeed in any public place, anytime, anyhow I see fit (ie- I do not have to use a cover).  Number 2, it’s just going to be way more comfortable if that person says no and I do it anyways.  And I’m going to do it, because my babies needs come before the comfort of adults who have the ability to extricate themselves from a situation they are uncomfortable with or, you know…avert their eyes and mind their own business.

Sure, there are times when I would go into another room and nurse, but that’s usually for the sake of getting away from distractions and also having a safe, comfortable, quiet place to go.  My options are pretty limited in a public setting so I usually went for comfort and as much discretion as possible.

I think the thing with asking permission is you open yourself up to being shot down.  You don’t always know what someone is going to say, they may or may not know that you do have the right to nurse your baby anywhere, they may know and just not really care that the law is on your side but since you asked…

So, just don’t do it.  Don’t ask permission, it’s more hassle then it’s worth.  Be discreet (anyone who has nursed a toddler knows this does not mean covered!).  Be confident.  Nurse your baby the way God intended and move on with your day. In my experience, most people don’t even notice.

Do you ask permission before nursing in public?
Do you think nursing mothers should ask permission before nursing their children in public?

*”Excuse me, I notice you are wearing red and khaki, a name badge that has a bullseye on it and carrying a walkie and a PDA…Do you work here?  I need to find…” Every. Single. Time.

** This may be a Minnesota thing.  I distinctly recall a woman looking for the toy department trying to get my attention by whistling like they she was calling a dog from the other end of the store when I worked at a store in Missouri.  She obviously had no use for pleasantries.  I ignored her because, um, really?


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6 Comments on “Should you ask Permission to Breastfeed in Public?”

  1. 1 Melissa Ryan said at 10:04 pm on July 19th, 2012:

    Just linking up. I love this blog hop and look forward to writing a post for it each week. Before having my son, I never imagined that I would become such a breastfeeding advocate.
    My recent post The Mom I Was, The Mom I Am

  2. 2 Melissa @ SNC said at 11:09 pm on July 19th, 2012:

    Your side trail about Target made me giggle 😉 I completely agree that there is no reason to ask for permission, and that doing so can just lead to more issues. Because really… I'm going to feed my hungry baby!
    My recent post Breastfeeding Blog Hop: Mother, May I?

  3. 3 erinclot said at 11:20 pm on July 19th, 2012:

    It's seriously one of the things that just drives you batty when you work there. You really want to just tell people "no, I'm actually just *pretending* to work here…I love Target so much!" lol.

  4. 4 Beth said at 1:40 pm on July 20th, 2012:

    The only person I ever "asked permission" from was my husband in certain situations-around certain friends of his, say. For the record, he was never, ever bothered. In those situations I would have just moved to another room or something if he had been. I'll feed the baby wherever she is hungry, and I personally choose to not to even say anything.

    Also-once (and never again!) I made the mistake of stopping in a Target wearing brown pants and a red shirt. OMG. Seriously it was like I had some sort of tracking device on me and I got asked three times where to find things. I was in office type clothes too, not even khakis, but a blouse and slacks.

  5. 5 Breastfeeding Blog Hop: Week 32 – Legally Speaking | Sisters 'n Cloth said at 7:26 am on August 9th, 2012:

    […] discussed whether moms should ask permission before nursing in public.  If not, can you read those here. There seemed to be a big resounding, “No!” from those who wrote about it, and many […]

  6. 6 larzze said at 2:30 pm on November 22nd, 2012:

    Nursing in Public is one of these sticky subjects that is all over the news pretty much all the time. Studio 1 RP Dance

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