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Let’s Talk About It! Is it Wrong for Women to Breastfeed in Public?

BellaNaija.com

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Breastfeeding Photo - June 2014 - BellaNaija.com
Much ado about nothing?

If you are an avid follower of pop culture, you’ll have seen the trend about celebs including model Gisele Bündchen and America’s Next Top Model finalist Yaya Da Costa, sharing their breastfeeding photos.

Meet Karlesha Thurman, a California based mother who at her graduation ceremony last month, was snapped nursing her 3-month-old daughter.

Karlesha who posted the image on Facebook, is shocked by criticism she has gotten. It has been deemed inappropriate.

She says she didn’t know people had problems with breastfeeding in public, and that she didn’t have second thoughts about feeding her daughter while in the midst of her fellow graduates.

Speaking to Today Show, Karlesha says

“I was proud of the fact that not only did I graduate but that I got to share the moment with the one person who is the most important to me and that is my daughter.

I honestly thought that as a society, people were more understanding to breast-feeding and understood the importance of breast-feeding.

It’s not disgusting, it’s not a bad thing, it’s not a negative thing. It’s the best thing for my daughter. More people should do it.

I did it to show it’s natural, it’s normal, there’s nothing wrong with it. I didn’t even know there was a big controversy about breast-feeding in public until all of this happened.”

Although she was criticised, Karlesha says she will not stop breast feeding. “The connection that you have when you’re breastfeeding your child, it’s unexplainable.”

Karlesha obtained an accounting degree from California State University, Long Beach.  During her graduation ceremony, she began to feed her daughter, Aaliyah and a friend thought it would be cool to take a photo.

***

While commuting in Lagos, it has become a trend for a nursing mother sitting next to you, to feed her child, or while you are eating at a restaurant, or even in church.

So BellaNaijarians, do you find it offensive when women breastfeed in public?

Gisele Bündchen

Gisele Bündchen

Yaya Da Costa

Yaya Da Costa

56 Comments

  1. naana

    June 11, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    my view is that, it is not weong to breastfeed publicly and one can cover the breast with a cloth or scarf.

    • Sephora

      June 22, 2014 at 3:01 pm

      Do you cover your food with a scarf when you’re eating?

  2. desire

    June 11, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Aint think there is something wrong in feeding your baby in public. Would you rather let her cry all in the name of some sort of “Decency in public”??

    • Ben

      June 5, 2016 at 9:13 pm

      Perhaps some people would sooner hear a baby cry than see a breast . What has the world come to ? Did you also see the picture from Australia of the white lady breastfeeding at her graduation. She did get less negative comments but the picture looks in a more private area.

  3. sola

    June 11, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    nothing is wrong with breastfeeding your baby in public because it’s nature. however, I don’t like the idea of posting it for everyone to see. it’s meant to be an intimate thing between both of you. it’s just like saying sex is natural…so I want to share it with the public. …. just my own opinion.

    • Dupe Ola

      June 11, 2014 at 4:22 pm

      I quite agree with you!!!. . . . . .I fight my sister too who just without caring for who is watching brings out her breast in the name of feeding her son. Cover up a bit !!!. . .even for the husband, cover up. . .it’s still a treasure, not for public consumption.

    • Chimamanda's Main Squeeze

      June 11, 2014 at 7:02 pm

      I don’t get this mindset of “hide this for your husband”… What does it mean?

    • Iris

      June 11, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      I actually favour the opposite of what you said. I don’t care if you post a picture on Instagram of yourself breastfeeding. If you want to share your intimate moment, fine. If I don’t like it I’ll scroll down. As for public breastfeeding, if you have to do it please use some kind of cover and be discreet. Unlike with social media, I cannot click away from it if I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to be stuck next to you on a plane for hours and practically have your breasteses in my face for half the trip.
      I know this is not related but they also need to tackle screaming and crying children on a plane. It’s infuriating and the worst part is that these days parents don’t seem to care – as if because they are stressed with travelling kids everybody else has to endure their suffering. I think airlines should create baby-free sections of the plane. If they want to charge more for them I’ll be happy to pay.

    • RayRay

      July 3, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      You nailed it Sola.

  4. @edDREAMZ

    June 11, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    a.k.a EDWIN CHINEDU AZUBUKO said…
    .
    Seriously i dont think is appropriate abeg.
    .
    .
    ***CURRENTLY IN JUPITER***

  5. Ngozi

    June 11, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Absolutely nothing wrong I used a DP 2yrs back feeding my daughter my friends on BBM went for my head ,ooooooooo! trust me I gave it all back to their rotten minds # look @ it as food # feeding and not as a sex organ . I encourage it 100% mua mua to the critics lol lol!

  6. bola

    June 11, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    nothing wrong in it but the first picture is awful. What is she feeling like?

  7. Mz Socially Awkward...

    June 11, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    I very much doubt that the hypothetical public thinks there’s anything wrong with breast feeding in public spaces. If anything, you often see situations where a nursing mother’s carrying a wailing child in a shop or on a train or something and she’s looking quite embarrassed because you and her know that child’s screaming its head off because the poor little being is hungry, and you feel like telling her, “sister, open ya cloth and feed the child, na, stop punishing the innocent pikin because you’re shy”.

    However, what the public is against is the actual flinging out of the boob for the whole world to also partake in. Nursing cloths are available for such a purpose, my sister Karleesha of God. The boob is just kinda all out there for everyone’s assessment and you can’t wonder why a photo like this wasn’t completely embraced on Facebook. If you’d just packaged it under one well placed cloth between your neck and the child’s head, you should have been good to go. 🙂

  8. pp

    June 11, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    As a mother breast feeding is just like when a pregnant woman is pressed and want to ease her self, you will see her doing it any where. those people criticizing is those that do not have mother child relationship. it is a common thing.

  9. Nuna

    June 11, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Ofcos there is nothing wrong in breastfeeding in public. There are fashionable nursing covers used these days to to do it, just so people’s sensibilities are not offended 😀

  10. ao

    June 11, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    When my child was an infant, I breastfed in public. It’s not a big deal. Just be discreet since we all know that the general public attach a sexual meaning to female breasts; though they are meant for feeding babies.

    • Iris

      June 11, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      But the issue isn’t how the breastfeeding mother feels about it. She’s probably comfortable or at least so desperate to make the child stop crying that she doesn’t care. The issue is how people around you feel. But like you said they should be discreet. If you’re in a park and you don’t have a cloth, maybe go to a relatively quiet area of the park to breastfeed.

  11. Dee

    June 11, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    I’m a woman and while I’m an advocate of breast feeding babies I’m also an advocate of you being modest while at it. I don’t need to see your whole breast in the name of breast feeding.

  12. mia

    June 11, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    @ PP, not every pregnant woman takes the liberty of pregnancy to wee anywhere. it’s just indecent. on the issue of breastfeeding in public, one can do it but not bringing it to everybody’s notice. there are nursing clothes and scrafs or veils that can be used to cover the cleavage while the child latches on to the nipple.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      June 11, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      In Scotland, if a pregnant woman has to pee and there isn’t any toilet within reach, a policeman/woman is obligated to take off his/her hat so the pregnant lady can pee in it. Fun fact, which I’m randomly throwing in there 🙂

      [N.B – although, if there are no toilets or police officers around, the pregnant lady might be on a long thing… Plus, I haven’t been informed of exactly what the police officer does with the contents of the hat after the deed is done….

  13. Robin Hood

    June 11, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Its only bad if the breasts in question are as flat as badly made pan cakes…. Not smiling.

  14. fashionandstylepolice

    June 11, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    There is nothing wrong with breastfeeding in public as long as its done discreetly. I don’t understand why they have to take pics while doing it though.

  15. justwakapass

    June 11, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    if na say d lady wear cloth wey dey expose her breast and other parts of her body, dem go say na fashion, but as she show only one breast without even the nipples, that na CRIME. HMMMMMMM………………..

  16. niyoola

    June 11, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    I have no issues with breastfeeding in public. You can use a nursing cover if you want, but as far as I’m concerned it’s not really necessary unless you are the shy type.

    You’ll see a babe with a nasty cleavage baring top, with only the nipples covered judging you for breastfeeding in public, mscheeeew

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      June 11, 2014 at 4:42 pm

      (It’s clearly a slow Wednesday afternoon at work as the 5pm countdown gets underway, but here’s another random observation)

      I always find it curious about how protective women (as well as print media, the fashion industry and the general public) are of the areola. What I mean by this is that, as you’ve observed, you’ll often see a chick with her cleavage baring all and mamaries mostly exposed but it seems that to her mind, as long as the nips are covered, she’s good to go. Or you see a celeb on the red carpet (hello RiRi) and she’s in a dress which is just mosquito netting in basic terms but as long as her stylist has taped down anything which threatens us with pointiness from the chest area, nobody thinks she’s porno-grade exposed. Or, I should say, the fashion world and print media don’t consider her to be exposed…

      … so there’s clearly a responsibility which the world sees itself as owing to the areola which isnt similarly owed to the rest of the boob. A bit like how i consider those scraps of things called thong bikini bottoms to be a serious exercise of self deceit as you’re simply 0.0001% away from arriving at the beach in your birthday suit.

    • niyoola

      June 11, 2014 at 5:47 pm

      The level to which people have taken ‘scanty dressing’ is what makes people think it’s okay to expose boobs as long as the nipples/areolas aren’t showing. Sometimes, the top is usually cut so low, you’ll see the darkened edges of the areolas.

    • COCS

      June 11, 2014 at 9:37 pm

      Where is the love button? Lmbo!!!

  17. eby

    June 11, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Breast feeding is the best nutrition a mother can give her baby. It is highly recommended. Abroad they have breastfeeding rooms in public places like malls or offices but not here in Nigeria. Mothers should please cover up with scrarves or handkerchiefs while breastfeeding in public. Its the modest tin to do. I covered up well when I nursed my babies. Afterall sex is natural and we don’t just see everyone doing it in public. My husband and I had a dinner outing with another couple friend and the woman kept grabbing her breast out about 4times to feed her little baby. My husband and I were so shocked and embarrassed. We secretly exchanged horrified looks while her husband kept telling us stories, oblivious of our suprise.

    • jcsgrl

      June 11, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      omg I have a friend who shall remain nameless who does that. On couple dates, visits to their house or ours, She whips them and feeds the baby. Her man doesn’t send and neither does she. Hubby and I were shocked. Well he will just look away or excuse himself…he he he he

  18. gh

    June 11, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    There is nothing wrong in brestfeedn ur kid in public .

  19. Love your courage

    June 11, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Please critics let her be. Breast feeding her baby and flaunting it is no crime, people applauded Rihanna when she recently wore a see through dress with no underwear, calling it ‘fashion forward’, I applaud you an congratulations….double congratulations

  20. naana

    June 11, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Mz Socially Awkward i am in FULL support of the third comment.

  21. Anon

    June 11, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Those of u saying Breastfeeding in public is wrong(ori da fu eh-una head no correct) So my baby should starve bcos society doesn’t want to see my cleavage,shei u dnt kno dats d main purpose,or my cleavage(cos baby would b sucking d nipples)is d first u r seeing in d public shei? Wen I start having kids I would breast feed anywhere,Church,Plane,Bankinghall,eatery,taxi as long as my baby is hungry.shikena! If u dnt want to see us get blind*peace*

  22. vee

    June 11, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Der is no big deal breastfeeding my child in public wen he or she is hungry,I can’t staff my baby just bcos I don’t want to expose my breast.God plss bless me wit a husband so I can breastfeed my child anywhr I want.

    • Plush

      June 14, 2014 at 6:22 pm

      No be ‘staff’, na ‘starve’.

  23. open mind

    June 11, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    when did it become indecent to breastfeed ones baby in public biko. will it be a surprise if an older woman breastfeeds in public, just thinking sha lol .whats decency in breastfeeding and suffocating a baby. biko free breastfeeding mothers to breast feed their babies anywhere they want. at least we were all breastfed whether man or woman. if you choose to cover or not to cover your breast while breastfeeding OYO is your name.( in Rita Dominic’s voice in ”the meting”)

  24. nene

    June 11, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    gisele and that other woman started this rubbish. why is this girl breast-feeding during her graduation? breastfeeding in public is ratchet behaviour, unless it’s an enclosed place or a place where not too many people are walking past.

    • MC

      June 12, 2014 at 11:45 am

      Breastfeeding in public is rachet behaviour????? so I guess that means baby being hungry in public is also rachet behaviour???
      oh how the human brain thinks…

  25. jcsgrl

    June 11, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    All we are saying is please cover the boobies (food, object of pleasure) whatever you choose to call it while breastfeeding and bonding with such child. I mean on a recent trip to Nja this woman pulls out her “food” when plane landed to feed her child. Mind you this was when people were scurrying to grab their suitcases and standing on the line waiting for plane door to open. the shock on especially the male passengers. To make matters worse the baby decides she wants to play with the “food'” so she sucks, leaves it smiles, coos, gestures, sucks while mom just leaves the thing suspended in mid air in the presence of igwe mmadu. Oh I neva finish, when the baby now decides she was done what does mommy do? she proceeds to stand up “food” still on display to get her bags from the baggage compartment while passengers passed by. Oh did I mention her hubby was also there oblivious to the whole assault on our eyes. GF no send. Gotta give it to her boobies, the food was still standing attention. Olympus surely hadn’t fallen!
    On another note, what about women with boobies who don’t wear bra..I mean to work. How??? Why?? Why should your boobies be doing jangolova during a team meeting? Why naa? Fear God o!

    • COCS

      June 11, 2014 at 9:41 pm

      You have got to be kidding me!

    • Ben

      June 5, 2016 at 2:45 am

      Was the lady Nigerian or from elsewhere as in some places breastfeeding in public is no big deal even without a cover ? .

  26. Kina

    June 11, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    I think breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world and to be honest it’s the only reason why they should hang out. If one is not breastfeeding they should be tucked away safely.

  27. Iphie

    June 11, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Lwkmd!!! That lady wants everybody to know Olympus has certainly not FALLEN

  28. demashi

    June 11, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    I don’t see nothing wrong with it, as long as it’s been used for it’s originally intended purpose, which is breastfeeding. A long while ago, I took my young son for his immunisation when my wife couldn’t do so due to work commitments. While at the waiting area of the general hospital, a number of women put our their breasts to feed their young babies. I felt a bit awkward initially but later came to terms that there’s nothing embarrassing about feeding your young suckling one in full public glare.

  29. Lola

    June 11, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    I’m saddened that people are ignorant of the benefits of breastfeeding. Sadly many women endure negative comments whether a mother is covered or not. What is worse is working mothers like me who express during work breaks get discriminated against in the work place and it can derail a woman’s career if working with ill mannered people. I have decided that when God elevates me in my profession to ensure nursing moms get the time and dedicated space to express milk and have no stigma doing so, breastfeeding IS the best milk for our children. Our children are worth it.

    • Mandayyxx

      June 12, 2014 at 10:32 pm

      Who is saying it’s not a good thing for the baby? We know it is. That’s not the point here… It’s a matter of modesty and discretion. Don’t let that fly over your head.

  30. Miss jay

    June 11, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    As a nursing mother, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with breastfeeding in public, my grieve with this however is the way some women take it to another level. Like most people have already said, for Pete’s sake get a nursing cloth or better still, use a scarf or hanky.

    I use a nursing cloth and there is always the option to pump and save breastmilk anyways, your child still gets the nutrition and you save yourself embarrassing looks.

    Pls remember your husband is still a major shareholder of the twins!

  31. NNENNE

    June 12, 2014 at 1:38 am

    My city stipulates that a woman has the breastfeed any where she so pleases.

  32. Este

    June 12, 2014 at 3:27 am

    Public breastfeeding isnt wrong but one should try as much to be discreet and whyyyy in the world would u post a pic of u breastfeeding on facebook :/

  33. ada1

    June 12, 2014 at 10:46 am

    rotfl! lmao. wow, i wouldve been mortified on her behalf, lol

  34. lily

    June 12, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Well Breastfeeding a child in public is no wrong thing as long as it is done in a discreet manner , which use to be the trend back then but nowadays people go to the extent of taking pictures all in the name of breastfeeding. Really there are some things feelings that should be cherish personally and breastfeeding creates a unique attachment bond between mother and child. If pictures are taken, kindly cherish it as a special moment not necessary for public admiration. Also, if it needs to be shared let it be done appropriately from ur own angle. God will teach us the right thing to do

  35. Mandayyxx

    June 12, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    I agree that breastfeeding is natural. And I support it 150% in public or not.. But it’s a matter of discretion and modesty. Why does it all of a sudden Make it ok to show everyone your breasts just because there’s a baby attached to it? It’s not ok. There are so any pervs out there and not to mention… Camera phones. Why has the respect level gone down so much? People just don’t care what they show or who they show it to anymore. Wouldn’t ladies want that privacy to feed and bond with their babies? I just don’t understand… And like a woman commented above … Your husband is probably still using those twins. So keep that in mind. I wouldn’t want to go to a fancy restaurant or a park to play with my daughter and husband and turn over to see some strangers breasts. It’s completely rude and disrespectful.
    All we ask is that you cover up. They make plenty of covers where you can still see your baby and the baby can see you. No excuses for you to pull your breasts out like some women do.

  36. Mandayyxx

    June 12, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    Call me old fashioned but… I wouldn’t want strangers seeing my breasts. Child attached or not!!! Again, pure disrespect for other people and children who don’t need to witness you bonding with your child.

  37. Peter Ernest

    June 15, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Well it’s your body, thus your right..yes!,..but all East be a bit discrete about it

  38. Misi

    July 5, 2014 at 1:23 am

    I think that when people stop focusing the attention on the mother and more on the defenseless child who doesn’t know and doesn’t care where yyou are then this can stop being such a big deal. Everyone wants the very best for their child and breast milk is the best so let the mother’s feed their little children!!! I’m also not saying that mother’s should also fling their boobs about making it uncomfortable and at some points downright disgusting for those around. if your child is hungry find a discrete and quite place to feed your child and if you cant please cover ur boobs and show some decency. I

  39. Muna

    August 28, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Yeah! here we all do it – breastfeeding in public, including me- but as most people are saying, its all about being discrete. I don’t think the backlash was not really because of the breastfeeding but because of the exposure. there are tops/blouses that allow you to breastfeed more discretely, the one you open from under not from the top. and if there are no secluded areas, I try to back the crowd or cover up with a scarf, esp on the airplane.

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