Breastfeeding in public is a major debate, and many a mother has been booted out of a restaurant for offering her baby a breast while she enjoys her own meal. There is no law that states that you aren't allowed to nurse your baby while you're at a restaurant, but that doesn't mean you should just whip out your chest in front of the other diners. Discrete breastfeeding can be done no matter where you are, and chances are it'll also make you feel more comfortable about nursing your infant when you're on the go.
You have every legal right to breastfeed when and where you want. In fact, 45 states have laws that expressly state that you're permitted to breastfeed in public places, and 28 states exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws. While many women have claimed that they've been hassled for breastfeeding in public, not one of them has gotten into legal trouble for nursing in front of other people, according to the AskDrSears website. If you're comfortable breastfeeding at a restaurant, rest assured that you have every right to do so.
When You're Criticized
Chances are, not everyone will catch sight of you breastfeeding and publicly or privately cheer you on. Certain people feel that they are well within their rights to criticize and belittle you for breastfeeding at a restaurant. Remind these naysayers that you're feeding your baby, and that's a natural and appropriate thing to do. The AskDrSears website suggests that you stand firm in your beliefs and never apologize for doing what you believe is right for your baby. You might also inform the person criticizing you about the benefits of breastfeeding, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends. If all else fails, simply ignore the person and continue nursing your baby just as you were before.
While you're permitted to nurse in a restaurant if you want, you might consider doing it discretely. Think about how you would feel if you were dining and another diner near you had her chest exposed for everyone else to see. You might feel embarrassed or a bit nervous. You certainly don't have to cover up, but you might feel more comfortable doing so. Bring along a large blanket or a nursing wrap to cover your chest while your baby eats. Wear a shirt that you can pull up or unbutton easily, too.
You might ask the host at the restaurant to seat you in a corner booth or table so you're less exposed to other diners. Sitting with your back to the rest of the restaurant is another discrete option. If you're just not comfortable nursing in public, even if you're covered, don't give up eating at restaurants. You can slip out to your car to nurse or even use the bathroom. Many restaurants, particularly ones in large shopping centers and malls, offer rooms specifically for nursing mothers, and these are a good option, too.
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