Should Public Breastfeeding Be Banned To Avoid Offending Muslims?

By  | 

I recently shared my politically incorrect views that “lactivists” take things a bit too far. I’m 100% in favor of breastfeeding but I think it’s not too much to ask women to cover up or otherwise feed their children inconspicuously. I have breastfed in public many times and always with concern for modesty. It doesn’t chap my hide in the least.

But this story out of the United Kingdom is getting people all in a tizzy. And it goes much further than just asking a woman to cover up. According to the Daily Mail, Emma Mitchell was in a multicultural community center and was told to leave after she tried to breastfeed her five-month-old son. She was asked to do her feeding in the restroom (yeck) and she declined the offer.

Seriously, the restroom? I mean, I guess I would do it in an emergency, but I certainly wouldn’t want to eat anything in the restroom. Anywho, she was told she had to do this because otherwise she would offend Muslims. I’m not even sure if that’s a true claim — that Muslims would be offended by public breastfeeding — but that’s what the story claims.

She finally was offered another room but said she was so upset she just went and fed her baby in the car. She was seriously displeased:

“If someone from another culture started praying in the waiting room, I wouldn’t say, ‘Excuse me, you‘re offending me’ I would respect it because it’s their culture.

“So I shouldn‘t be made to feel what I wanted to do was wrong just because it’s not in their culture.

Local councilman Shoab Akhtar defended the community center. On the other hand, he later issued a statement saying that the action was completely inappropriate.


  1. Somnilee

    July 17, 2011 at 3:27 am

    While I generally appreciate these pieces on “lactivism” and the right to breastfeed, I would just like to point out that in the UK, the Daily Mail is NOT a respected news piece. To quote the Fry & Laurie Quote “I read the Mail every day…it’s easier than a newspaper” – pretty much its only purpose is to shock and ire the conservative middle classes who think everyone is trying to take away their little patch of England (Murderers! Terrorists! Paedophiles!), while the readership themselves wouldn’t know what they stood for if you asked them.
    I’m sorry if this comment offends anyone but I really thought I ought to point it out.

  2. Armadillo

    July 17, 2011 at 5:38 am

    Why we shouldn’t ask women to cover up breastfeeding

  3. Barb

    July 17, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Muslim babies breastfeed too – they are just like any other baby in the world. They all have a right to eat.

  4. juliewashere88

    July 17, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    I would appreciate it if breastfeeding women would be discreet. Either everyone should be able to bear their breasts in public, or no one should. Breastfeeding shouldn’t be a special exception. I don’t think that it’s unseasonable to use the bathroom to do it (seriously, grow up, simply being in the room while eating isn’t gross. It’s not like the baby has to lick the toilet while in there.)

    However, no one’s activities, whatever they are, should be controlled by others based solely on the religions of others. Religion is NEVER an excuse to control other people. Period.

    • Dee

      July 25, 2011 at 12:17 am

      Amen. Glad to see I’m not the only one that thinks this way.

    • Myriam

      May 21, 2013 at 2:51 pm

      It might not be gross for the baby, but it really unconfortable for the mother to be seating on a toilet (often without a lid), with no armrests for an extented period of time. Also, it means the mother will be blocking a stall from somebody else needing to us it. A toilet is not an appropriate place to breastfeed in. Period.

    • paul cook

      August 13, 2014 at 4:56 pm

      most bathrooms have baby changing stations and rooms set up for this, or use a sheet to cover up.

  5. diane

    July 18, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    aaaack… ‘juliewashere88’, you can’t be serious… delegating nursing moms to the restroom is not reasonable! irrespective of toilet licking, where am i to sit while nursing? on the toilet?! have you breastfed an infant? it can easily take 30 minutes or more… i should have to sit in a bathroom, with all its natural but often unpleasant smells and sounds to feed my child? and babies feed every few hours! so in order to leave the house, this is my fate?

    its not about equal opportunity boob baring… i doubt many nursing mothers are thrilled about exposing their giant milk engorged breasts to ogling strangers… its about being able to feed our child and have the public forgive a sliver or glimpse of breast that may escape while we juggle one of the many demands of motherhood.

  6. Pingback: Mom Breastfeeds Baby At American Girl Store, Told To Move Elsewhere | Mommyish

  7. Safiyyah

    December 28, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I ran across this post doing some research for International Nurse-In to protest the treatment of the nursing mama at the Houston, TX, Target store. I, as a Muslim woman, am sad that the mama in the UK was asked not to feed her baby in public to avoid offending Muslims. I don’t know about the UK, but in America, women have a legal right to breast feed in public. But I hate to see the UK store blame the Muslims. People are really really ignorant, and attitudes like those of the UK store do nothing but increase Islamophobia.

    • julie

      December 28, 2011 at 7:09 pm

      A store is not public property. You might be “in public” in the sense that the public is around, but the store is private property, belonging to the owner. And they get to make their own rules. Or have you never seen any signs reading, “No shirt, no shoes, no service”?

      Those nurse-ins protesting that breastfeeding women aren’t exempt from the rules that everyone else must obey are nothing but exhibitionism and nothing to do with nurturing babies. I can think of no worse treatment of a child then to use them as unwilling props for political gain. At that point, it’s not about the baby anymore, it’s about YOU.

      My own mother was better than that.

    • Myriam

      May 21, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      Walking around shirtless is not a right : breastfeeding a child is. Banning someone for the skin color is illegal, so is breasfeeding.

  8. S. Abdul-Malik

    February 17, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Peace everyone,
    I am a Muslim women, mother of 9 who has nursed all of my children where ever I went. Never in a bathroom nor would I ever. Most of the Muslim women I know breastfeed. The thing is I lay my vail over my child when I nurse my child so no one is the wiser. No one needs to know if you are being modest. I think that is more the point.
    I don’t think it’s ok to just open your shirt for the world to see & stick it in the babies mouth, you have to be modest / lady like in all that you do. I also don’t think it’s ok to see people walking around in bikini bra tops. Or tops that cut down to the navels either. It’s the same to me. Not lady like at all!!!!

  9. paul cook

    August 13, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    just cover up if i need to pee and am in public why cant i just pee on the street, or on a tree next to a female, thats because its public nudity, how about a guy sitting across or next to you watching you breastfeed, would that make you uncomfortable, well thats how the rest of the world looks at it, people that bottle feed deal with crying babys all the time and get them to stop with no bottle why cant these mothers until they can get to a bathroom that has a nice baby feeding room in it for that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *