For one reason or another, some people feel awkward when they see a woman breastfeeding her child in public. This does not necessarily make them bad people. Their feelings can be perfectly valid; it takes a unique set of nature and nurture to arrive at the point of feeling awkward with a specific trigger such as this.
For those who aren’t accustomed to seeing breastfeeding in public and are largely uninformed about how it all works, a little patience may be needed as they adjust. After all, few of us have been spared from American culture’s mixed messages about women’s roles and heavy promotion of both infant formula and breasts as sex objects.
That said, misunderstanding and ignorance are acceptable; projection of fears and lashing out with harassing or discriminatory behavior are not.
Here are a few ideas about what to do and not do if you’re not yet comfortable seeing breastfeeding in public (but you’re working on it, right?).
Put yourself in the mother’s shoes.
Put yourself in the child’s shoes.
Consider your feelings. Where does your discomfort come from? Is this a new sight for you? Do you feel angry at the mother? Do you feel sorry for or disgusted by the child? Do you feel offended? Are you worried you’ll see the mother’s skin? Do you feel ill-prepared to handle the sight of breastfeeding?
Learn more about breastfeeding.
Remember this is nothing new. You’ve seen this before: You’ve seen a baby eating and you’ve seen breasts. If you’ve never seen the two together, you’ll likely be surprised how un-shocking it is.
Remember it’s a mother and child’s right to breastfeed wherever they’re legally allowed to be. That means on the bus, at the library, beach, pool, mall, restaurant, church — a wide array of places. Almost anywhere, really.
Tell the mother to cover up.
Offer the mother something to cover up with.
Ask them to leave or move.
Make a face that signifies your discomfort.
Make a formal complaint.
Get involved by making comments. Especially ones like “That’s a private matter, stay home to do that.” If it is truly a private matter, you can mind your own business.
Okay Im here because I looked up how to not be awkward. So here for guidance not to argue.
I think women should be able to breastfeed wherever Im even a supporter of free the nipple but Im always awkward.
I either talk to the mother while making weird eye contact fighting the reverse psychology of me telling myself not to look down. Or I stare at somewhere else while theyre talking to me.
Ive seen a boob before I just dont want to look like a perve of I look, or like an asshole if I look away unnaturally.
This is just in the scenario that theyre trying to have a conversation and dont particularly want to be left alone
Not trying to be funny
Please dont be mean to me
If your intentions are good, this will probably be clear whether you’re awkward or not. And I suspect you feel more awkward than you come across. With more experiences with nursing families, you’ll grow more comfortable in time. Don’t be so hard on yourself or worry too much. It’s okay to look at a mama’s baby while s/he’s eating. Just say “Aw, your baby is so cute” and the mother will probably feel relieved that you seem comfortable, and proud that you noticed her baby, taking pressure off her as some kind of spectacle.