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Debate: Breastfeeding in public

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Should women breastfeed in public? Should it be legal and protected?

Background and context

Breastfeeding in public has been a topic of debate for years. Many laws around the world make public breastfeeding legal and disallow companies from prohibiting it in the workplace.
But, some people are uncomfortable with seeing a mother breastfeed her baby, and feel that private businesses and places should have the right to discourage and prohibit breastfeeding as a means maintaining the comfort of their customers. The main questions involved in this debate include the following: Should it be legal and should it be specifically protected in all walks of life, both in public places and private businesses? Is it fundamentally important to babies health? And, what about mothers' health? Is it important to the bond between mother and child? Is public breastfeeding decent? Even if some people feel uncomfortable about it, should they be made to tolerate it? Should the onus be on onlookers to overt their eyes, instead of on breastfeeders to go somewhere else? Is public breastfeeding a fundamental right for women? Does restricting it limit the mobility of women and their right to raise their children how they see fit and on a consistent breastfeeding schedule? A separate but important topic is whether women should breast feed in full-view (with the whole breast showing) or "discreetly" while in public? (See: Debate: Full-view vs discreet breastfeeding in public) But, this article starts with the basic question of whether any kind of breast-feeding (discreet or full-view) should be allowed and legally protected in public places?

Contents

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Babies' health: Is breastfeeding important to babies' health?

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Pro

  • Breastfeeding is best for the health and development of babies According to the World Health Organization, “Infants should be exclusively breastfed – i.e. receive only breast milk – for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. 'Exclusive breastfeeding' is defined as giving no other food or drink – not even water – except breast milk.”[1]
  • Public breastfeeding allows feeding whenever baby is hungry Lindsey Nelson. "Breastfeeding Mothers Deserve Freedom of Movement." FirstRight Advisory Council Member on Opposing Views: "In order to achieve an optimal breastfeeding relationship, it is recommended that women breastfeed their child directly from the breast at the first hunger cues[2]. Children, especially the youngest babies, do not often have predictable feeding schedules and should not be required to wait to be fed or nurtured. It is not uncommon for a child to nurse for twenty or more minutes at a time and sometimes as often as once every hour or two[3]. Pumping milk into bottles for when the family is away from home, attempting to time outings around feedings or to slip away to a restroom or vehicle force mothers and children into isolation, may be detrimental to a successful breastfeeding relationship and are unrealistic expectations."


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Con

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Mothers' health: Is it important to mother's health?

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Pro

  • Breastfeeding can help new mothers lose weight Some believe that breastfeeding during the first six months of a child's life can help women lose weight during this period. This is because the body has to expend significant energy in producing milk for the child, and because the milk itself is made of significant quantities of fat, which must be derived from food that is eaten. If it is not given to the baby, it is retained inside a woman's body.
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Con

  • Breastfeeding does not necessarily help women lose weight Salma Hayek argued: "I gained a lot of weight, I had gestational diabetes. The pregnancy was really difficult for me. I thought, as soon as this baby is out, I’m just going to lose the weight super fast, because I’m going to breast feed, and everybody tells you that if you breastfeed it’s going to come out like this, it’s a lie! It’s not true. Except for a couple of exceptions, the only reason people lose weight like that when they’re breastfeeding, it’s because they’re not eating and they’re breastfeeding, and this is not good for the baby. You know how they tell you it takes nine months to get it, nine months to lose it? There are shortcuts, but it’s not good for the baby. So I’m taking my time. I’ve lost a lot, most of the weight, and I’m very proud of it because it’s been really hard work studying what kind of food to eat that’s healthy for me, healthy for the baby. But I’m still losing even if it’s slow, and I’ve been working out… and the rest is going to go when it’s time to go.”[2]
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Legality: Should/is breastfeeding be legal/protect?

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Con

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Decency: Is breastfeeding decent?

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Pro

  • Public breastfeeding spreads beneficial breastfeeding culture Breastfeeding in public helps desensitize people to the practice, increasing their understanding of and tolerance for it over time. This helps make it easier for future generations engage in breastfeeding in public. And, it also generally spreads awareness about the important health benefits of breastfeeding and encourages more women and families to adopt this practice. This is nothing but good for society.
  • Breastfeeding is by nature a discreet activity. The baby's head is blocking the breast and certainly covering the nipple. Skin is often completely not visible, but if it is, it is only a very small amount, revealing nothing indecent, or what could not be seen on a beach or in a even gown.
  • Breastfeeding is about the baby, not onlookers. When it's done in public, despite what people seem to think, it's all about the baby, not onlookers.
  • Public breastfeeders are not exhibitionists. Despite accusations, are rarely exhibitionists.
  • Onlookers can easily look away from breastfeeders. If you don't want to see someone breastfeeding, don't look. It's simple. This is the responsibility of onlookers. Requesting that breastfeeders move is far more onerous a burden.


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Con

  • Breasts are also for sex; public breastfeeding indecent. Laurence Thomas. "Breastfeeding in Public and the Question of Sexism." Moral Health. 25 March 2009: "Unequivocally, breasts are also sex objects; and this is a fact that does not change simply in virtue of the reality that a woman is breast-feeding. [...] Of course, any decent man (not married to the woman) will look the other way should a woman pull out her breast in order to feed her child. And that, interestingly, enough is just the point. A decent man would look the other way precisely because he would want to avoid the schizophrenia of the situation, namely that of admiring the woman’s breast while she is in the midst of engaging in a motherly function. The woman’s husband, on the other hand, might very well admire her breast while she is breastfeeding. And there is a very straightforward way in which his doing so can be just right. That is the woman whose breasts he caressed and fondled as she and he were engaged in the very act of love-making that gave rise to the very child that she is presently nursing."
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Women's rights: Is public breastfeeding a right?

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Pro

  • Ban on breastfeeding violates female reproductive rights. Women have a right to reproduce and a right to raise their children how they see fit. This includes taking actions to breast feed them, in order to optimize their child's health and growth. This is part of a woman's reproductive rights.
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Con


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Tolerance: Should breastfeeding be tolerated?

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Pro

  • Those offended by breastfeeding should tolerate it. Many things offend individuals. Wearing baggy clothing, sporting tattoos or piercing, or wearing revealing clothing are all some of them. But, this does not justify banning these items. The same goes for breastfeeding. Discomfort is no justification of a ban.
  • Breastfeeding is a privilege. Breastfeeding is necessary for a child who is in his mothers lap, but the others watching it do not feel as the child. All other people will find themselves looking at the breasts in a feel of the child's father. So it's a mans' privilege to watch his wife breastfeeding. Should all people interrupt in his rights? Or should we all be the virtual fathers of the child?
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Pro/con sources

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Pro


I think it is not a good look on the mother. You should always have respect for others and go to a bathroom stall and do it or car etc. somewhere where perverts and other people who may think its disgusting. Just go to the bathroom!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You won't miss anything!!!

See also

External links and resources

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