10 Awkward Places To Breastfeed Kids

Breastfeeding controversies are back in the news, or did they ever go away? Recently, a Maryland casino kicked out a mom who was calmly breastfeeding her infant while standing in the casino lobby. Pope Francis encouraged moms to nurse their newborns during a baptismal ceremony. “Breast is best” versus “Out of sight, out of mind”?

image from clker.com
image from clker.com

Some women are more courageous than others when it comes to breastfeeding. While nursing my second child in public I would discreetly cover up with a jacket, a spread out newspaper, a small towel or some other camouflage. Many nursing mothers do this as a general courtesy. Some women nurse their babes and children without anything to cover up, and a few seem to be almost daring passers-by to make comments. Once while visiting near the Cable Car barn in San Francisco, a woman who sat at a sidewalk restaurant table with her blouse completely pushed up, baby at her breast prompted me to wonder (silently, of course) if she was intentionally being provocative or if she had no alternative?

Some people prefer not to see any public nursing, while others couldn’t care less, and others will cheer it on. Thinking on this led to a list of particularly awkward places and instances to breastfeed an infant:

1. Heavy metal and hard rock concerts. Not loud enough? Nurse the children and bop your heads along with the music.

2. Bars. Yes, in Brooklyn. Perhaps elsewhere? Hopefully the moms sip non-alcoholic drinks.

3. Houses of worship. This is a common practice in many houses of worship, and many often provide a side room, but it is also common in the main sanctuary.

4. Subway trains. Hopefully the nursing mother is sitting.

5. Shopping mall benches. Between jaunts to different stores, why not? Some people will eye you and even wince. Once I saw an elderly woman lay into a mother who nursed her baby. The nursing mom rolled her eyes, which only inflamed the old lady more.

6. While playing the piano. Why not? Reach over and tickle the ivories.

7. In a museum. Stare at artwork or science exhibits and lactate.

8. In the middle of Ikea. Heck, find a comfy piece of furniture.

9. At the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim at Coney Island. Kind of cold, huh? And mom can also snap photos of her companions running out of the freezing water at the same time.

10. While playing ping pong. Not easy, but doable. In doubles.

image from Erdekesseg.hu by Nathen Steffel
image from Erdekesseg.hu by Nathen Steffel

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BUT PLEASE DON’T nurse a baby while doing these things:

1. Cooking, and most especially while frying foods.

2. Driving a car, riding a bicycle or motorcycle.

3. Operating heavy machinery. No “oops” on your dime.

4. At the start of the New York Marathon, or any other major race. Find a spot to the side, okay?

5. While swimming. Too clumsy!

6. Playing most sports (baseball, basketball, jumping jacks, etc.) Shuffleboard might be okay.

7. While handling dangerous chemicals or nuclear waste. Hazardous.

8. Engaging in a gang fight. Again, hazardous.

9. On a job interview. At least the vast majority of interviews!

10. While taking the oath of office for a political position. Novel idea, but constituents might object.

And remember to burp the babe.


Ellen Levitt is the author of The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn (2009), The Lost Synagogues of the Bronx and Queens (2011) and The Lost Synagogues of Manhattan (2013), all published by Avotaynu. She is a lifelong New Yorker, a veteran public school teacher, writer and photographer. Bird lover as well.