Should Women be Able to Breastfeed in Public?

Doylestown is considering a breastfeeding ordinance to protect the rights of women to breastfeed in public.


In Pennsylvania, women have the legal right to breastfeed in public. But just because it is a state law doesn't mean that all businesses are aware of the law or uphold it.

To ensure businesses don't infringe on a woman's right to breastfeed, many places—including Doylestown—are drafting ordinances to protect this right.

At a meeting on Monday, July 16, Doylestown Borough Council president Det Ansinn asked his colleagues to look into drafting an ordinance that would make it illegal for Doylestown businesses to infringe on a woman's right to breastfeed.

"We want to protect women who breastfeed their children in town," Ansinn said. "It’s a public health issue. [Breastfeeding] is permitted by law, and we want to make sure that our businesses and public places are following the law."

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 45 states have laws specifically allowing women to breastfeed in any public or private location. Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware are among them.

In April, one northwestern city took those protections a step farther. The city of  Seattle passed an ordinance making it illegal for a business to ask a mother to leave or to cover herself or the baby while feeding.

And the new federal healthcare legislation enacted protections for employees who need to pump breast milk for their babies. The new law requires that businesses and institutions provide "a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk."

Let us know your thoughts by voting in our poll and commenting below.

Dori McCrane July 19, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Not sure how the comments went off topic. The question was about breast feeding in public. Whether you do it or not, will have no guarantee as to how well your child will do in school or in their career. It would be great to find a Ladies Lounge area away from rest rooms, but most places don't have them. I have no problem with breast feeding in public done discreetly under a cloth diaper. That being said, common sense should be used. It's better for the baby to find a quiet area.
Tom Sofield July 19, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Some more responses that were left on our Facebook wall (http://www.facebook.com/NewtownPAPatch): "Yes! They have all kinds of discreet nursing cloths and shirts available. People should mind thier own business. Babies have to eat. I would breast feed my child wherever we were if they were hungry." - Tracy Hollish Penland "Ridiculous that this is even an issue. Is it offensive when you sit in the food court and watch others eat? Do you stare at them or glance and look elsewhere? Is this any different?" - Cheryl Schrier
Lisa C July 19, 2012 at 05:26 PM
What do you think breasts are for? And what do you think women did before formula and bottles were invented? Why did rich women used to hire wet nurses? Never mind the fact that breast milk has more benefits than formula.
Lisa C July 19, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Why should they be covered under a cloth diaper? I personally wouldn't want something covering my face while eating and neither of my kids liked being covered and would protest. It was more discreet to not have them making a fuss.
Lisa C July 19, 2012 at 05:38 PM
I don't think having a mother working outside the home means her children are not a priority - whether or not the family needs her income or not. And it's up to the family to decides what's best for them - not someone who grew up when it was possible to live like the Cleaver's. Personally, I'm glad I don't live in that era.
Dori McCrane July 19, 2012 at 06:32 PM
@Lisa.: the cloth is placed over the breast making it more like a tent. The baby isn't completely covered up with no air getting to him or her. If this isn't your choice then feed your baby however you like. I was giving my opinion and I really don't feel like playing verbal volleyball in order to defend it.
Becky Evans July 19, 2012 at 10:15 PM
If a baby is allowed, breastfeeding should be allowed. Breastfeeding should not be done only when children should not be present. That said, if a restaurant allows kids, Mom can feed her baby too. My baby never had a bottle. I would not "express" and bottlefeed when she was hungry, as she never took a bottle nipple. Any basic microbiology course can convince you that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES FEED A BABY IN A RESTROOM. That's horrific. Also, there is no use for restroom "counters" in breastfeeding. I'm not seeing the connection there at all. Baby rests in Mom's arms. Breastfeeding IS "raising your kids properly." Bottlefeeding is the other alternative when there are problematic circumstances and the best option, breastfeeding, is impractical or impossible. Breast milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water and protein for growth, is easy to digest, fights disease, reduces the risk of type 1 diabetes, childhood leukemia and atopic dermatitus, is easy for the mother to do, saves money, feels great and lowers the mother's risk for diabetes, certain cancers and post partum depression, makes no trash or plastic waste, protects a baby from a contaminated water supply, is the right temperature all the time, is readily available, reduces the chance of obesity in the child, and promotes bonding. Negatives? Some people are offended. UGh.
Tommybella July 20, 2012 at 01:23 AM
I actually breastfed both of my children but it would bother me to see a woman breast feeding in public IF she didn't cover herself up. I think it is their right of course, but they should use the same discretion while feeding their child as they would use doing anything else in public. No one's child wants to look over and see another woman's breast, especially if they don't really understand what is going on in the first place! Children are very inquisitive and I wouldn't want to explain what is going on at the embarrassment of another mother, and why should I have to?
Tommybella July 20, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Oh and Ingrid, I am an educator as well, and my son graduated with first honors and my 2 year old daughter has the vocabulary of a 5 year old, how's that for balance? Please let's not get on the subject of working mothers and stick to the question at hand......with all due respect.
CMC July 20, 2012 at 02:35 AM
I am not sure what's embarrassing to explain. Yes, children are inquisitive. I see the scenario like this... "mommy, what is that mommy doing with that baby over there?" "Oh, the baby is drinking it's milk. It's called breastfeeding and that's how the baby eats. Some babies drink from bottles and others drink from their mama's breast....just like we saw the kittens and puppies do at the SPCA." I just don't see where the embarassment comes in. And with the newer bras available, once the baby is latched on, you see nothing at all, unlike in my day when one had to "unflap" and more breast tissue was exposed, which is why I chose to use a small blanket over my shoulder when I was feeding in public locations.
Tommybella July 20, 2012 at 11:43 AM
CMC, that is exactly what I am saying, IF they are covered up! Do you realize that you said 'what is to explain', then explained it? We are on the same side, I am for it, but I do not, nor does my child or any child want to see another mother's breast out in the open. I am sure if it was pointed out by a child, especially a 2 year old, that would not be focusing on what I said at that very moment, it would be embarrassing. The SPCA is a nice example and everything, but she has never seen that scenario so it would be harder for me is all I am saying. My kids were breastfed and it was the best thing I have ever done, but I did it discreetly not to make anyone uncomfortable, especially other children that didn't understand what was going on. That's just me.
StePhanie July 20, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Ingrid, feel free to wear a blindfold around me while I nurse my SIXTEEN month old in PUBLIC. Or hide in the bathroom with your meal. I'll alert you when I'm done.
StePhanie July 20, 2012 at 12:24 PM
I was offered the bathroom to nurse one time. I politely refused. I don't know about you, but I would never eat in a bathroom. YUCK.
StePhanie July 20, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Umm... It doesn't bother kids to see a baby nursing. It might bother you for Some reason. It's normal and when little kids get close to me while im nursing I tell them "I'm nursing the baby. The baby is drinking my milk" that's simple enough for them to understand and they smile and walk away.
Tommybella July 20, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Stephanie, I guess that's why this is an opinion poll, different opinions. I would rather women be discreet, that is all I am saying. If your way works for you, then great. Different strokes for different folks. At least with all of this, the importance of breastfeeding is getting out there. Good luck to all mothers whatever method they choose.
StePhanie July 20, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Tommybella It is totally what you (as a nursing mother) are comfortable with. I have pretty much been nursing straight for 5 1/2 years with a 3 month break. I am so comfortable nursing anywhere, I don't even think about it. Sorry. I didn't mean that every nursing mother needs to nurse uncovered. The very first times nursed in public I tried nursing under a receiving blanket and i Couldn't get my baby to latch. After. a long time I ditched the cover.
vonna1 July 20, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Tommybella, glad that you are supportive but I would ask you read what you wrote and consider another point of view. You are saying that your child nor you wants to see a breast. have you ever seen a nursing mother? you don't see the breast at all! your child is seeing more breasts at the checkout line at the supermarket, at the local eatery because women are dressing to show breasts these days, at the swimming pool because women are wearing bikini's barely covering anything....having your child see that breasts are for nursing and nourishing and bonding with a child would be HEALING! our children and especially our boys should be taught that breasts are for nursing. This really isn't an issue in so many other countries and cultures, but because we have allowed the objectification of women, you don't speak out about these indecencies seen all the time, yet speak out that a nursing mother should cover herself. my baby won't allow it for one and secondly, I am modest and most are but I should not have to feel that I NEED to put a tent on to nurse. if someone feels uncomfortable it is because they see the breast as sexual instead of what it is intended. my 5 year old is so used to seeing nursing that another mom nursing would grab his attention at all. but a child who has been taught that nudity is something to be ashamed of and that a breast is sexual (they get these messages all the time with the magazines and what you bring into the home) then that is your problem.
StePhanie July 20, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Vonna exactly. Our kids SHOULD be exposed to breastfeeding so it become the "norm" my 5 year old loves seeing babies nurse. It's so normal to her. She doesn't even feed her dolls a bottle. Breastfeeding is the norm. We shouldnt even need to discuss this. Maybe when our kids are parents, nursing in public won't even be an issue.
Tommybella July 20, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Hey guys, points all taken, It is just my opinion. I think as mothers, we should all be supportiveof each other, no matter what we do. It's hard enough being a mother without people scrutinizing us for what we do, Kudos to those mothers whatever they choose. I would never give an opinion if I wasn't a mother and breastfed myself. We all do what is best for us and our families, and there is never anything wrong with that! Take care everyone:-) Wow, what a hot topic! lol!
Jennifer July 20, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Opinions don't really matter here, because the law states that mothers may breastfeed their babies anywhere mom and baby are allowed to be. Indecency laws do not apply even if the nipple is exposed. That means your opinion about whether the mom should or should not be covered, should or should not be allowed to feed st a restaurant etc, is meaningless because she is allowed to do it. So if you don't like it, it is your own responsibility to deal with YOUR feelings about it. It is not the mother's responsibility to worry about whether or not YOU are uncomfortable or YOU are too embarrassed to explain real life to your kids. The motherms responsibility is to feed her child. That's it. The law is on her side, so there is no debate.
Jennifer July 20, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Not all babies enjoy being covered. I can walk around while breastfeeding my baby in her ergo carrier and no one ever notices. People smile at me and just think I have a sleeping baby. Or maybe they don't care and think it is cute that I can walk and breastfeed. Who knows? If I try to cover her, she gets very upset and tears at the covers and un latches to look around, exposing my whole breast. It leaves us both frustrated and the breastfeeding actually becomes way more of a spectacle.
Tommybella July 20, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Um Jennifer, opinions matter if this is an opinion poll. Im not bashing you or any other mother for your choices, I am simply stating my opinion, as this poll asks. If that is what you are comfortable doing, by all means continue doing so. I was in no way saying that it wasnt the law or anything else, just stating what I thought. You don't have to deal with my feelings at all, nor do I have to deal with yours.
Jennifer July 20, 2012 at 05:32 PM
My statement wasn't directed at you specifically, Tommybella. It's actually directed at the fact that there is an opinion poll about something that is a law. It's like asking whether black people should be allowed to sit wherever they want to on the bus.
Tommybella July 20, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Point taken Jennifer. Please know we ARE on the same side! We are both mothers taking care of our children!
Nichole July 20, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Why would anyone NOT want to protect babies?
jess July 25, 2012 at 12:21 AM
I breastfed my children until they were at least a year old, which is the recommended MINIMUM amount of time to breastfeed a child. Are women supposed to stay indoors or pump because you are squeamish? I used a cover, but many babies will refuse to eat if something is covering them, especially when it is warm outside. Don't punish the hungry baby for your immature inability to avert your eyes. That is what breasts are for, after all.
Tommybella July 25, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Jess you don't have to give me the statistics about breastfeeding, I breastfed myself. I never punished my hungry baby by the way and I have better things to do than stare at a nursing mother. I thought we were all mature adults just giving our opinion. I am so done with this topic. I also can think of other things breasts are for!
Seth Martinez September 01, 2012 at 01:47 AM
hey. i am a man and i am all for women breastfeeding. i think thats it is great that women are not going to bathrooms to feed their child, that is gross. Women should be allowed to breastfeed their child whenever they are hungry and wherever they are hungry. Ingrid, oh ingrid. i have read your comments but i think that it is disgusting that you even recommend women to go to the bathroom to breastfeed a child. it is the most natural act a mother can do to breastfeed her child, if you don't like it, don't look. simple as that.
Vido October 04, 2012 at 05:13 AM
Wow. That woman Ingrid!!!!makes me wonder what kind of household she was brought up in????? Do you have any children of your own?????? Do you keep your babies locked in a room with a bottle of formula???? Honey... This is life and nature at its best. The first and most natural thing a human does since birth!!!!! Wake up and smell the flowers ....... They're actually pretty nice and smell good too!!!!!!!
Elle November 24, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Ingrid, how can you possibly suggest mothers feed their children in the restroom? If you wouldn't eat in there then why would you suggest a baby eat there? I am sorry you are so ignorant as to what is best for a baby. What is a mother supposed to do if her baby will not take a bottle? Not all babies are able to, or their mother doesn't want them to. Nursing in public is a natural and beautiful thing so if you dont want to see it, then why not stay home?


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