>Breastfeeding Not Protected in PA


You may remember my post a few months ago where I got all fired up over some poor woman being kicked off a Delta Airlines flight for nursing her child. I read in the news that this woman had a legal right to breastfeed her child and she was contemplating suing the airline. I mistakening assumed that the legal right to breastfeed a baby anywhere that eating is allowed was a federal statute, or at least something covered by all reasonable states.

Not so! I was recently horrified to find out that Pennsylvania is one of only 13 states without a specific law protecting public nursing. This is actually frightening to me, as I get ready to nurse my second child. I only found this out after a story about a woman nursing at the Berkshire Mall in Wyomissing, PA, where I used to live, who was harassed by mall security. When Nathan was born I lived two blocks from that mall and spent a LOT of time there, and believe me, I fed my baby there. Usually I chose to feed him in a department store fitting room. But boy, could that be uncomfortable sometimes. I would NEVER feed him in a bathroom. I still can’t believe people don’t understand how disgusting that is.

This woman claims not one part of her breast was exposed and frankly, I totally believe her. Women do not WANT to “let it all hang out” the way some people accuse lactivists of being. We just don’t want to be made to feel like second class citizens because we choose to follow our doctor’s guidelines to do what is healthiest for our babies. The following week some mothers organized a nurse-in at the mall. Take a look at the picture below and tell me how many nursing moms you count, and HOW MUCH BREAST you see?

I almost screamed when I heard four women call in to a radio show about this issue and all said “I just don’t want to SEE that!” Well don’t look! You can’t see anything anyway. One woman said the mother should have stayed home to feed the baby. The radio host replied “For an entire year? She shouldn’t leave the house when the baby has to eat every two hours?” To which the woman replied “She can go shopping in between feedings!” Uh huh, right. So with 45 minutes of feeding time you get a window of an hour and fifteen minutes to get the kid bundled up, go to the mall, accomplish something, and get home in time for the next feeding? RIGHT. One woman said “but nowadays they have those devices where the woman can express some milk and feed it to the baby in a bottle. So she shouldn’t HAVE to nurse in pulic.” She obviously never heard of nipple confusion, the reason some nursing moms never give a bottle.

I think this issue is so much about ignorance and lack of education. It’s just what current generations aren’t used to seeing, and if we don’t enact laws protecting the right of a baby to eat in the same place mom can, people will never get used to it. I do not buy the argument that nursing is natural in the same way that peeing and pooping and having sex are natural, but we don’t do that in public. Nursing is EATING. Plain and simple.
There is a piece of legislation waiting in Pennsylvania that would change the law to protect breastfeeding in public. That is one political policy I can get inspired to get behind.

10 responses to this post.

  1. >It is so horrifying to me that people would be so down on breastfeeding in public! It’s one thing if a woman would get half naked to do it… but that isn’t the case. Most women are very discrete about it, they don’t want their boob hanging out anymore then anyone else does!! I think one problem is the fact that breasts are seen as such sexual objects. Sure, they can be a sexual area of the body… but their main purpose is to feed offspring. I find it amusing that its hard to find maternity tops (unless you go the blouse or turtleneck route) that don’t show off “the girls”. No one seems to have a problem with that, but just the idea of someone exposing part of their breast in public (even if they don’t actually show anything) to feed their baby is apparently too much to deal with. Grr. Obviously this gets me a little riled up as well, especially as someone who hopes to breastfeed all her future children. Hopefully new, protective legislation will be passed in PA… very soon!


  2. >If you are interested, I responded to your comment on my blog.


  3. >I think the people complaining are the same people who think the sky should be green because blue is just not a friendly color, blah, blah, blah.these are the same people who don’t have lives and want to make a fuss about anything and everything they can. I’m shocked to hear woman complaining and especially saying “go shopping in between feedings”. I don’t have any kids yet but I know the logistics of feedings every two hours and trying to get kids dressed, fed and out the door in a timely fashion.They are a bunch of idiots.And I saw about 4 breastfeeding woman and no body parts.


  4. >and PA is still the “Quaker State” and probably won’t change much anytime soon.


  5. >I will sign your petition.


  6. >”I think this issue is so much about ignorance and lack of education.”I think that is part of it for sure. I think it also shows a cultural difference in Americans. I think the rest of the world (I base this on my own opinion and opinions voiced to me by Europeans) is much more liberal in sex and drugs then Americans. Americans are in love with guns but detest sex and drugs. My opinion and I don’t mean to offend.As for breastfeeding, I have never been offended. Nor do I view it as a sexual act. A loving act definitely as there is not much better to see then a mother’s love in action.


  7. >i think that a lot of it–beyond being cultural issues–is just that people dont’ know. you’re right about that.one thing that i notice is that people ‘assume’ that breast feeding requires nudity at some level, and that women who breast feed are not naturally “discreet.” thus, they take issue with it because of the cultural issues in relation to the breast itself (hypersexualization).also, PA is a “quaker state” but quakers have been pro public breastfeeding for years and years and years. many women will nurse in meeting–it’s not at all problematic to quakers. 🙂


  8. >Really, I like breast feeding because it gives me ample opportunity to expose myself, really. ;)No, meegs pretty much said it….we are so caught up in the notion of breasts as sexual objects that the idea of them being a source of food, i.e. what they were made for, seems foreign to us.Along the lines of breastfeeding, check these out, they are AMAZING!http://store.babycenter.com/p2p/searchResults.do?method=view&search=basic&keyword=lily+padz&sortby=shortdesc&asc=true&page=1


  9. >You said it. If you don’t want to see it, LOOK THE OTHER WAY. I nursed Nik all over the place, and I wasn’t flashing people. Hell, they should mind their own damn business.I won’t feed my baby in a bathroom. I don’t eat in a bathroom. People who are disgusted by a baby being fed just need to look away. Idiots.Texas has a law, thank bob. Not that the law stops idiots from staring.


  10. >It’s understandable that some people would be offended by seeing a breastfeeding mother. It’s actually quite embarrassing to find one’s self in the presence of a woman breastfeeding her child. No doubt that comes from this Victorian notion that some things just don’t belong in public and that is one of them. Our reaction isn’t to “just look away” as you suggest. It is to look at, almost to stare at because it is something so unusual. It is on par with a couple kissing in public and if that doesn’t do it for you, then a same sex couple kissing in public. Do we “look away” or do we stare and if we stare then is it really them who are creating the problem?The thing is, we need to get over all these phobias we have, all these hang-ups about the way other people choose to behave in public. We need to learn to look the other way when we see something that offends us but isn’t hurting anybody else. We need to stop trying to legislate morality based on what we personally feel is offensive. Live and let live.


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