Please join me in normalizing public breastfeeding in the U.S.

Austin Townlake Nurse-In 09

Boob on Mamas!

Wow.  Who would have thought that the mostly-meek me, and the particularly soft post-baby me, would develop a burning desire to fist pump on the subject of breastfeeding.

And that following this growling punch in the sky, I would then kick-start my Attachment Mama site with the subject. Life takes such unexpected turns.

You might look at the sweet, fairy tale feminine photo of me with my girls in the banner design and expect the first story title to be more like:   “Breastfeeding is Magic.”   It is!  It’s pure magic, love, and nutrition all wrapped up in one skin-to-skin connection between mother and child.

Holding that view, it was particularly disturbing to me to be attacked by another woman in Austin for nursing one of my sweet angels in public. The incident created the impetus for me to get moving on this web site that I’d been dreaming up for months and to write about breastfeeding in a marching sort of way.

This summer I was verbally assaulted on town lake trail for breastfeeding.  By a woman.  With her child in tow.

I was running with a new friend on the trail – each of us with our daughters in double strollers.  We stopped near Lou Neff point where many mothers stop with toddlers and babies to feed the ducks, turtles and fish.

While Sadie, my 2 year-old threw pieces of bread into the water, I sat down on a rock to nurse Izzy, my 9 month old.

A few minutes later,  a woman with her child walked up to me and said , “Excuse me.  I find what you’re doing extremely offensive and would like you to stop or at the very least turn away.”

I was in running shorts and a tank bra.  No draping material on hand to cover myself.  So yeah, I was a bit exposed — but I was using my other hand to cover most of my breast.

I was so shocked I didn’t know what to say but had no intention of stopping or turning away.  I had to feed my baby and keep an eye on my non-swimming toddler near the water at the same time.

She went on.  “I work in the corporate world and it’s because of women like you that men can’t see anything other than THAT (pointing at my chest because apparently she couldn’t utter the word, ‘breast’).”

I was then able to conjure up a short response: “Wow. What you’re saying to me is really rude.”

Her retort — complete with kale bitter eyes, “What you’re doing is rude. If you want to do that in a barn with the rest of the barn animals, you should.  Because that is what you look like.”

I was completely flabbergasted at this point.  I sputtered:  “M’am, what I’m doing is not sexual!”

She looked horrified and gasped, “NO!  IT’S DISGUSTING!”

And then she turned her back to me and walked away.

And though it took me several weeks to shake off feelings of shame that I took on when I nursed in public after this incident – I’ve gotten over it.  I’m not hiding in a poop-smelling bathroom to feed my baby or letting my baby cry with hunger if I’m out in public and don’t have anything to drape over my body.

When I reflect back on the experience, I wish I would have had something better to say to her.

I wish I would have known that Texas law entitles mothers to breastfeed in any f-ing location in which the mother is authorized to be.  (Chapter 165 Texas Health and Safety Code; they don’t include the f word in the law.)

That’s right mamas.  ANY location you are authorized to be!

Also in the law:

“The legislature finds that breast-feeding a baby is an important and basic act of nurture that must be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health and family values. In compliance with the breast-feeding promotion program established under the federal Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. Section 1771 et seq.), the legislature recognizes breast-feeding as the best method of infant nutrition.”

After attending and speaking about my experience at the Austin City Hall breastfeeding celebration event later this summer, I am now armed with some fantastic cards from the WIC’s “Breast Milk:  Every Ounce Counts” campaign that state the law and thank women for nursing their babies.

You can print your own copies here:

I’m in complete agreement with the hope stated on these cards:

“May future mothers never have to search for a secluded corner, dressing room, or rest room to nourish their babies.”


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8 Responses to “Please join me in normalizing public breastfeeding in the U.S.”

  1. erin ivey says:

    GO ON GIRL!!! Women unrepressed by corporate monoculture are right behind you!

  2. Mary Anne Connolly says:

    Go, Monica! I am so “f-ing” PROUD of you…it took so much strength to even respond to this woman (who didn’t even deserve a response!) and then to take action by organizing the “nurse-in” and speaking at City Hall! WOW, I am truly inspired.

    As a beneficiary of over 9 months of nurturing, selfless “ninny” (as my mother learned to call it) back in the still-repressed, conservative Catholic, Pentagon/Air Force-strict environment of Washington, DC where I spent my formative years, I can only imagine how many “stinky bathrooms” and private places like our Volkswagen Bug, etc. she must have had to find when it was time to eat! Still, I know she stopped at nothing to ensure I was fed and happy…especially since it was back before breast pumps! (1965)

    I can attest to the immunities to most childhood diseases I had throughout childhood, (I never got Chicken Pox and hardly much else), not to mention the unconditional love and devotion I was lucky enough to have bestowed on me to this day, as well as the amazing health I still experience and the deep bond my mother and I have we have as a result of all that nutrition and loving care! And all from a mother of 41…considered “old” at the time! (At 85 and 44, we are now closer and better friends than ever!)

    You have truly inspired me to never be ashamed if I ever have the opportunity to breastfeed my own child one day and to never judge any mother out there who does! Rather, I’d be happy to confront anyone who approaches them with disdain on the mother’s behalf!

    • admin says:

      Mary Anne –
      I love hearing the story of your mom nursing you — especially her ninny name for it. Adorable! Yes, eventually I’ll get web-savvy enough (I’m so behind the times) to post the little shaky video of me speaking at City Hall. TOTALLY preaching to the choir – audience was comprised fully of nursing moms with loud toddlers running around. You can barely hear me over the noise. But my message was simple. Keep nursing in public so people get used to it and don’t worry if part of your boob shows! 🙂 See you tomorrow night at rehearsal! Tra la la!

  3. Shy LaNef says:

    I don’t usually comment on blogs but had to on yours. You have a very easy to read writing style. A lot of people don’t have that touch, they just drone on and on in the most boring way. But not you – thanks! I love visiting other sites about raising a baby! It seems like there is constantly new things to learn about it. I don’t have time to read everything here right now, I found this site while I was looking for something else on Yahoo, but I’ve bookmarked your homepage and will come back again soon to read the latest. Please take a look at at and let me know what you think of it. Thank you again for having this blog. Very educational!

  4. Melodie says:

    As much as I am disgusted that she assaulted you for breastfeeding, I am saddened that she did so in presence of her children and other children. Good for you for using your voice for the rights of breastfeeding moms.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    As a bottle nurser, I would like to respond. OMG! What kind of person finds breastfeeding DISGUSTING? Seriously???? What is even remotely disgusting about it???? That woman sounds like a deranged and dangerous person. I’m so sorry you had to endure that experience, but I’m glad inspired you to start your blog and increase your efforts to support breastfeeding moms.

  6. Emily Barlow says:

    As a mother who has breast fed for nine months (so far), I find it disturbing that someone with issues would even dare to challenge you on your right to breast feed, its arrogant. Feel sorry for her child, obviously if its a girl she will give her a very hard time when she grows up and tries to breastfeed. More importantly, for her own safety she should not have commented the way she did. People should be warned about verbally attacking a breastfeeding woman, because women, like animals in nature, have a strong desire to protect their young, especially while feeding them. If a woman feels threatened, while feeding her vulnerable infant, she will do what it takes to protect her child. That’s something that’s not discussed because everyone thinks of a breasfeeding woman as a “soft target” but its not always true. Tolerance and compassion, people, that’s what’s needed. For some reason, the general public sees pregnant women and women with young children as “fair game” to voice their opinions on everything from how much weight you’ve gained, to how to feed your child, to whether you clothed the child correctly for the weather, I’ve seen it all. Quite frankly, its none of their business how we, as mothers, choose to feed our children. I get offended every time (because it happens so much). I was taught to be polite, but that’s changing because my patience is wearing very thin…. I do feel a bit embarassed about breast feeding in public, so I normally try to feed my daughter in the car. But people still, very often, peer into the car and try to snatch a look, both men and women, sometimes the looks on men’s faces can be quite lewd. What has surprised me the most is the number of young women who will stare into my car, when I am nursing in the back seat. Some guys on the street have even openly hung around the car for no good reason and plain stared. I will then have to lean over my child (I have long hair to cover my boobs) and glare back at them, and in recent months have been tempted (but have not yet) to roll down the window and shout something nasty to them (I live in NYC so I know how to curse). I am waiting for the tipping point because one of these days someone is going to go too far and I’m going to get nasty with them. I should also mention that the baby simply refuses to nurse most of the time with a cover up over her. She is older now and has her own preferences, like she wants to be able to look me in the eye when she feeds, and recently has taken to nursing off of each breast randomly every few minutes, so the cover-up gets tangled up. I’m fed up of my breasts being “hijacked” by being sexualized by the general public. I actually view it as a form of mental disease: what species wouldnt want a mother to feed its young? In my experience only rude, overly horny, mentally ill people stare at breastfeeding mothers. Can’t the drug companies please come up with a drug for people who stare at breastfeeding women??? They have come up with a drug for all other mental disorders…..!

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