Stigmas Against Breastfeeding in Public

17 May

Throughout my time in Botswana, I saw and experienced many stigmas, including surrounding breastfeeding. It was expected that all new mothers should breastfeed and that if she did not breastfeed it was assumed that she was HIV-positive. Therefore, mothers would proudly breastfeed wherever she was – at a shop, on the bus, or at a restaurant. 

In Canada, we still have the expectation that all mothers should breastfeed. However, it is stigmatized whenever a woman does it in public. I worked as a lifeguard at a public pool and since it is legal in Ontario for a woman to be topless (regardless of if she is breastfeeding), we could not ask a woman to not breastfeed. But, if another customer complains about it, then we were instructed to tell the breastfeeding mother that she was making others uncomfortable. I have heard similar stories of this happening in many public areas.

So while society expects women to breastfeed, women are shamed for doing it publicly. They are expected to breastfeed – but only in private or with a scarf or blanket covering their breast.

Why does this stigma exist?

Please read the rest of this post, originally published on the International Women’s Initiative Survivors’ Blog

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2 Responses to “Stigmas Against Breastfeeding in Public”

  1. Laila October 28, 2013 at 3:11 am #

    I am sick an tired of feeling ashamed of feeding my baby in public. It is not a sexual act, and I am determined to feed my child whenever they want and wherever we happen to be at the time. I don’t care if it makes others around me uncomfortable, it’s not about what is wrong with me, it’s about what is wrong with them that they feel so uncomfortable.

    • kylamckee November 1, 2013 at 8:51 am #

      Thanks for your comment Laila! It is crazy how sexualized breasts have become in our culture. I have lived in many other countries where they are not, and it is completely normal and usual for women to breastfeed wherever they are when their child needs to be fed.

      Keep feeding your baby and being an awesome, assertive mother 🙂

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