• Thu, May 8 - 5:00 pm ET

Breastfeeding Ads Show Just How Gross Feeding Your Baby On The Toilet Is

Like most people, I like to eat my meals in a public toilet stall. While no dinner is complete without the ambient sounds of grunting and flushing, it’s the soupçon of poo smell and the constant shouts of “hurry up in there!” that really complete the culinary experience, amirite?

No, I’m not right. That’s disgusting, which is why I am always awed by the number of people who truly believe that breastfeeding should take place in the privacy of a foul toilet stall.

breastfeeding-in-public-texas

That’s one of the reasons I love the above “Private Dining” PSA. It was designed by two graphic design students at the University of North Texas as part of a mock client assignment. The two students, Kris Haro and Jonathan Wenske, created an ad campaign entitled “When Nurture Calls”, which features three women breastfeeding their babies on the toilet. The copy on each ad reads:

“Would you eat here? By law, breastfeeding mothers are not protected from harassment and refusal of service in public, often forcing them to feed in secluded spaces such as public bathrooms. To help take a stand, visit whennurturcalls.com, because a baby should never be nurtured where nature calls.”

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They made it to support a piece of Texas legislature-HB1706-that would protect breastfeeding mothers from harassment or refusal of service while breastfeeding in public. This is a campaign that’s much needed here in Texas, where women have been asked to breastfeed in alleyways.

Unfortunately, I’ve breastfed on a crapper before. It was awful. I did it because I was very uncomfortable feeding my daughter in public, and on this particular occasion I forgot my hooter hider, causing me to retreat into a restaurant’s single stall bathroom. My daughter picked up on my disgust, which made her fuss and she didn’t end up getting fed anyway.

It’s ridiculous to me that people are so horrified by nipples that they shame women into water closets, and the PSA is perfect because it shows the observer exactly what that looks like-gross and uncomfortable.

People are already starting to pearl-clutch about the ads, and one of the reasons hits very close to home. You can see that the women pictured in them are young. Monica Young, the woman in the blue shirt, is 21, but that hasn’t stopped people from freaking out about how the pictures promote “teen pregnancy”.

breastfeeding-in-public-texas

Ugh. Even if Young were a teen, I fail to see how promoting breastfeeding among young mothers is obscene or shameful. If anything, we need more images like this. Speaking from my own experience, I felt incredibly isolated when I was trying, and every poster, picture, and pamphlet had women in their 30s breastfeeding, causing me to feel like I must be the only freak under 20 giving it a go.

There’s a saying that goes, “You can’t be what you can’t see”, and I think that applies here. I’m not ashamed about my decision to ultimately formula feed, but had I known that there were other women my age who were successful at it, I might have felt less alone in my own attempts at it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go prepare a nice Coq au Vin and reserve the big stall at Chili’s.

(Images: Johnathan Wenske/Behance)

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  • Kendra

    I never did NIP because I felt uncomfortable doing so. What I would do, is go on my trips to town like normal, and whenever it seemed to be close to feeding time, I would park in the parking lot towards the back, go into the backseat, and I would nurse there. It wasn’t terrible uncomfortable and it was private. I have pumped in a bathroom before but it certainly wasn’t as nasty as those pictures look. I don’t know what my point is. Maybe my point is that I wouldn’t ever choose to nurse in a bathroom, because I have other options, but I’m sure there are women who don’t. I definitely don’t think anyone should ever be forced too.

    • nikki753

      As someone who has never lived in a place where it was possible to reasonably live without a car, it’s easy to forget that lots of people do live in cities where traffic is a nightmare, parking is crazy expensive, and the best/only option for many is to not own a vehicle and rely solely on public transit. Sure, a number of places have better options than sitting on a public toilet seat (gross! I try to avoid that when I’m using the bathroom for its intended purpose!) but, in some places, options are very limited.

    • brebay

      I don’t care if you own 16 cars and live in Montana, still nobody’s business where you want to breastfeed. The options are only as limited as places you’re allowed to stick a bottle in a screaming baby…which I think is pretty much anyplace.

    • nikki753

      Oh, I agree completely. I was just saying that I think a number of people think, “Oh, just nurse in your car” without considering a) city life or b) summer. It’s easy to say, “Just do X,Y, or Z.” when you don’t understand that person’s life. Cars, private jets, or whatever, no one should have to eat in a bathroom or other similarly nasty place. And every nursing mother should be allowed to nurse anywhere children are allowed. You shouldn’t have to get up and leave in the middle of anything because your kid is hungry. Even if other people are just being selfish, what is easier to ignore: A kid being fed or a hungry kid shrieking at the top of her lungs because her mom’s dinner just came out and she’d like to have a hot meal instead of getting up and taking her kid to wherever to eat? (Or she just wants to finish the grocery shopping or the other kid’s ballet class isn’t over yet or… whatever.)

    • Allyson_et_al

      I lived in NYC for the entire time I was nursing babies, so I definitely did not have the car option most of the time.

  • K.

    …Sitting on a toilet in a public restroom while a kid sucks on your tit is promoting teen pregnancy?

    Call me crazy, but I think this is more of a shit-just-got-real deterrent.

    • Kendra

      Yeah, clearly all the teens will see this and think “OH MAN! I can’t wait to do that!!!”

    • @Real_George_Clooney

      Plenty of other things go on in toilet stalls that results in teen pregnancies

    • Valerie

      Klassy!

  • @Real_George_Clooney

    That first chick is kinda cute… wonder if baby’s daddy is in the picture… metaphorically

    • Rachel Sea

      She clearly puts out.

    • @Real_George_Clooney

      Dream girl!

  • kay

    The closest thing to a bathroom I’ve ever nursed in is the Nordstroms lounge. Which while connected to the bathrooms is still the greatest-comfy chairs, out of the noise and distractions of the mall. I think I sell it to friends to a weird degree “Have you breastfed in Nordstroms? AMAZING!” But it really is.

    • Allyson_et_al

      I LOVED breastfeeding in Nordstrom’s! You are not alone.

    • Natasha B

      Yes! Nordstrom’s lounge is amazing!!!! We had a Bloomie’s when my boy was a baby, and their’s was fantastic also :)

  • Valerie

    I really didn’t have any qualms about nursing in public. Ben refused a bottle and I had to go out sometimes stretching longer than between feelings. I got very good at latching and unlatching him super fast and hardly anyone even seemed to notice what I was doing. I once nursed him at a high top table at UNOs while the waiter took our order and I really don’t think he knew. I didn’t go out of my way to do it but if I had to I did it without a second thought and never felt bad about it. Actually, I was proud because nursing hadn’t gone well with my first and I was thrilled to be doing it for Ben. I practically hoped someone would say something because I’m not the type to take that crap and would have gladly educated anyone who thought they shouldn’t have to witness the sordid act of a young mom nursing her baby. :-)

    • SunnyD847

      With my second, I could nurse anywhere. I was walking along talking to my SIL one day and she suddenly said, “Wait, are you NURSING her right now?” Yep. If anyone had dared say anything to me…well, it would have been ugly.

    • Valerie

      Rock on!! I feel like the bolder nursing moms pave the way as far as society’s acceptance! :-) I’ll take one for the team anytime!

  • http://ichasekids.com/ Litterboxjen

    Love the campaign, but the French on the last one is wrong. It’s “Bon apĂ©tit.”

    I think I’m super-lucky in my city; most of the major malls have nice nursing areas, so I tended to retreat there. I did breastfeed my first in the car on a few occasions, and otherwise at the table while dining out was a thing. I did have a cover and she didn’t mind it (at least for the first few months), and I used that pretty regularly because I was never great at fast latches. With any luck the second will be easier, but we’ll see.

    • https://twitter.com/FaintlyXMacabre Theresa Edwards

      ahh! this bugged me too. They’re students, though, so…

    • Sarah

      I live in a super BF-friendly city as well. I’ve never gotten side-eye for nursing in a restaurant without a cover, or anywhere else for that matter. On the flip side, I’ve seen women get accosted for FF in public so I guess you can’t win em all.

    • Andreas

      Bon appétit even.

    • http://ichasekids.com/ Litterboxjen

      Oh damnit, that’ll show me to be correcting people while tired. I knew it looked weird when I wrote it, too… :/

    • Greta Young

      Glad I wasn’t the only person to take issue with the misplaced accent… :-)

  • Kay_Sue

    Promotes teenage pregnancy? You know, they say that about everything under the sun and yet we continue to see the rates go down. I think we can release the pearls before we hurt ourselves…

    • ted3553

      I always laugh when I hear this. I can’t think of many things society does to truly promote teen pregnancy.

    • Kay_Sue

      That label gets applied to everything. Even Teen Mom has been tentatively correlated to a decrease in teen pregnancy rates where it has the strongest viewing populations. If that doesn’t do it, I don’t know what would…

    • Sarah

      Yeah, I’ve never understood the criticism leveled at this show for promoting teen pregnancy either. I think it’s actually a pretty great deterrent, their lives look terrible. I know they canceled it but there was one season with a girl whose sister had an abortion and I thought it was nice that they showed the result of the other option – a kid who gets to be a kid, go out with her friends, go to college, etc.

    • Kay_Sue

      I agree. I never found it to be a particularly appealing version of that state of events at all.

  • raeronola

    I had no qualms nursing in public…until now at 11 months when he literally does backflips while nursing and I latches every three seconds to chat or look at stuff. It’s just not worth it to even try, especially since if he’s hungry he can eat some goldfish until I can get to a quiet, boring room.

  • jan

    Years ago there were ads around Australia promoting public breast feeding. I think I would have been quite young so around 15-20 years ago?
    I’m trying to google it but can’t seem to find it.
    But basically it showed a well dressed man in a business shirt and pants balancing his meal on his lap on the toilet. And it basically said “we wouldn’t ask you to eat your meal in here”. It really struck a chord with me even at that young age.
    I think I would be too self concious to breast feed in public- but I am definitely not against any one who wants to do it themselves.

  • RW

    Another pro for Canada – breastfeeding is a legal right here and you cannot be refused service in a restaurant (that allows minors) or asked to leave anywhere for breastfeeding.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    I can’t think of a less glamourous depiction of motherhood. This promotes teen pregnancy how?

  • jenstar

    I nursed my son on the toilet just once. And that was because I had a terrible case of the runs when he was seven weeks old and as a first time mother I couldn’t face letting him cry for however long it took me to get done.. So I took him with me (also he was mid way through.. O.o) it was just.. awful. Felt disgusting! I’ve never done it since. I am quite lucky in a way though that now at ten months he only takes milk from me when he wakes and right before bed. So I no longer really have the public breastfeeding issue.

    That said, I rarely let it be a problem after my son was about two weeks old and I realised I could not closet myself in the house for a year.. It angers me that some people make such a fuss about it, particularly when you consider how shy some mothers are about it in the first place. Women need supporting not condemnation!

    • Guest

      That is some intense multi-tasking.

  • val97

    I honestly was so naive that I did not know people had a problem with breastfeeding in public. In 1999, I did not even own a computer, so I didn’t get to see crazy articles about bf mothers being asked to go into a bathroom stall or alley. I didn’t get to see trolls in comment boards talking about how gross and selfish (?) breastfeeding mothers are. I never had to hold back typing out a response (that wouldn’t get read anyway) about why bf mothers can’t just bottle feed while they are out in public. In my ignorance, I happily bf everywhere – the mall, restaurants, the park. I usually used a cover, so I don’t think it was that obvious. Anyway, ignorance was bliss.

  • Zorbs

    I would have willingly BF in a stall if my parents and husband had not shoved bottles in my hands every time my son wanted to be fed in public. *I* feel disgusted to show myself in public, legal or not and I am one of those people who do not want to see random nipples while out and about.

  • Tis2

    No no, people are horrified by WORKING nipples. Bedazzled nipples, hard sexy nipples, advertising nipples…those are all blown up four stories high and cover every surface of every mall in North America.

  • http://QAGplus.com/ QAGplus

    Olala!! This is Something new!!!, I hop my mother never did something like that!!

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  • Lynae Eakett Greene

    I’ve never breastfed on a toilet. I must say I’m grateful to be from Canada, where we have a law that states all breastfeeding mothers have the right to do so in any establishment that they can enter with their baby. They can do so covered or uncovered, and harassment is prohibited. Personally, I choose to use a cover. I would never be comfortable with the idea that someone might be staring at me and actually see something. Plus, there are a lot of scary people out there and you never know who is watching.

  • tsukinon

    I agree with your article 100% and I usually try very hard not to police someone’s language, but this jumped out at me:

    “on this particular occasion I forgot my hooter hider”

    Part of the reason breastfeeding is so contraversial is because breasts are sexualized to the point that a large number of people are unable to see a breast in any situation without thinking SEX!!!!! Referring to breasts with highly sexualized euphimisms in this context (because, really, what do we think of when we hear hooters?) undermines the entire argument that breastfeeding is not sexual. Add in “hider” and it just emphasizes the idea that breasts are sexual and should always be concealed.

    Obviously, women should be able to use whatever terms they want, but I thinks it’s important not to hand these people more ammunition .