While there are countries that have laws to protect the right of mothers who want to breastfeed in public spaces, some look upon it as indecent exposure. M&B polled people on what they feel about mummies breastfeeding their little ones in public viewâ€¦
Fashion designer & BJP member
Breastfeeding in public is an absolute NO for me. I cannot see the reason behind such an act. A mother has to be well planned and she must schedule her day in a way that does not interfere with the feeding schedule. When my baby was small, I used to bring her along to the workshop where I had a small room upstairs. It was a perfect place to breastfeed her and also allowed me the convenience to work while I was close to my baby. I strongly feel that feeding time is a very private time between a mother and her child and is not meant to be an act that can be carried out in public. The mother-child bond gets strengthened through the act of breastfeeding and I would never want this to be a public act. The argument that sometimes it can be unavoidable does not hold for me as I feel the key to avoid such situations lies in being more organised. But having said that, I would also like to mention that I whole-heartedly endorse breastfeeding as it is the best for the mother and baby.
Womenâ€™s rights lawyer and co-founder of Majlis
Laws are made to punish people who are in the wrong and the choice to breastfeed in public is more to do with attitudes within the society, so I donâ€™t think laws come into the picture here. I also donâ€™t understand why breastfeeding in public should be made such a big issue. I see women feed their kids in public spaces a lot of times. Just the other day, a friend of mine was feeding her child in the Grand Hyatt, Mumbai. While travelling, I have seen a considerable number of women breastfeeding in airports and on flights. This is such a natural thing that this should not be made an issue at all. As for creating a society that supports a woman who wants to breastfeed her baby, I think we should have special areas assigned for feeding. If there can be special smoking areas in public spaces then there can also be a separate area for the mother to easily breastfeed her child without feeling conscious of the public eye. Many places have become child-friendly and there are baby-changing cubicles seen in malls or airports and this has made life more convenient for parents. Calling breastfeeding an act of public indecency or exposure is nothing but putting words in peopleâ€™s mouth or creating an issue out of a complete non-issue.
Varsha Vidya Vilas
Convenor, Ashleelta Virodhi Manch (Forum Against Obscenity)
When one travels in local trains or buses, one does see ladies breastfeeding their babies but they do not expose their breasts. A cloth always acts as a cover. And Iâ€™ve seen that even if men are present, they donâ€™t look at the breastfeeding mother as a sexual object.
Mothers who must breastfeed their babies in public spaces have to make sure that the breast is completely covered so that there is no unnecessary display of skin. There is nothing obscene about any natural act. The problem lies in the way it is depicted in the media. If anything regarding breastfeeding has to be communicated, then it must be a symbolic image and not a real life photograph. A few years ago, magazines would carry profile pictures of the mother's back and that would serve the purpose of depicting the act of breastfeeding. A frontal view is nothing but an insult to motherhood. The media has a tendency to make such images a source of entertainment for the public. This cannot be allowed. Living images used to train mothers about the correct way to feed a baby are nonessential. I have also breastfed my child and I can say that mothers do not have to be told how to breastfeed ones baby. From early times, women have done it and no training was needed then.
Home-maker and mum of two
I have confidently breastfed both my kids in various public places. But then what else do you expect? Mums are supposed to feed babies and it was my job to do it when my baby was hungry. Who cares about who was looking?! Breasts have always been a turn on for men and will continue to be so but how does that bother me? Itâ€™s the onlookersâ€™ option to look or not to look. However, feeding my child is not an optional thing for me. I think women should not have any qualms about feeding their babies in public view.
Senior manager, strategy & business development
I donâ€™t think that breastfeeding a baby in public can ever be perceived as an indecent act. A mother choosing to breastfeed is actually doing a very noble thing and this individual choice helps in building a healthier society. I am a bachelor but if my future wife wants to feed in public, I will provide her with support and encouragement but definitely cannot force her to do so if she is uncomfortable. As for the sight of exposed breasts, any image is perceived according to its context. A woman who is engaged in the act of feeding her baby conveys more about the bond between mother and baby and the practical need of that moment and I do not associate it with sexual stimulation.