Opponents of breastfeeding in public suggest a breastfeeding mother pump and use a bottle, go to the bathroom to breastfeed, plan around the babies eating schedule, or, at the very least, cover up with a blanket.

 

All these suggestions make anybody who has spent time around infants certain that those in opposition have not.

 

Pumped breast milk must be refrigerated and then warmed before it can be given to the baby. Mothers already carry diaper bags, purses, and at least one baby. If opponents were offering to lug the extra accoutrements required for carting around pumped breast milk for the mothers, this might be a viable option.

 

A mother planning her errands around an infant’s eating schedule flies in the face of decency. Some babies will nurse about once an hour for the first couple weeks of life, and at least every few hours after that. Starving a child or holding a women captive in her house both qualify as abuse.

 

The suggestion that they should go to the washroom to nurse is best defended by the mothers themselves with the often repeated “do you eat in a room where other people poop?”.

 

Covering up with a blanket would work wonderfully if mothers were nursing inanimate objects but some babies will use all their strength to put up a fuss until they can see their mother’s face. And they should!

 

Baby is learning important things about non-verbal communication by watching his mother’s facial expressions and his eye muscles are getting stronger as he learns to focus on different parts of his favourite person.

 

Besides, mother and child are simultaneously releasing important bonding hormones that will become even more important as the child grows up. We evolved that way.

 

And the benefits go on. Breastfed babies have stronger immune systems, are less prone to obesity, and some studies suggest they have higher IQs. Mothers benefit from the most natural way to help shed the baby weight, a decreased occurrence and duration of post-partum depression, and, for those who breastfeed for at least two years, a significantly decreased risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer.

 

The World Health Organization, Canadian Paediatric Society, and American Academy of Pediatrics all recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life as best for the baby. All three actually recommend nursing even longer.

 

Whatever the objections, watching a baby scream of hunger is surely more offensive than seeing what is, really, a modest amount of skin.

 

Elise Thomsen (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) is a contributing reporter and photographer for the University of Regina’s  School of Journalism 2012 news service for weekly papers in Saskatchewan. She is from Michigan, and has spent 16 weeks in the newsroom of Jamac Publishing in Kindersley and another eight weeks at the Weyburn Review on internship. She will graduate this spring with a particular interest in reporting on important community developments, the arts, and human rights issues.