Breastfeeding in public is a topic that is frequently discussed in society. While many mothers choose to breastfeed their babies in public, the controversy over whether or not they should cover their bodies while doing so continues to be a subject of debate. This story serves as an example of the ongoing conversation around this issue.
One of the most magical experiences of motherhood is breastfeeding. Mothers know that hungry babies can’t be ignored, no matter the time of day, the mother’s activity, or the public nature of the place.
When a baby needs to be fed, it’s important for the mother to respond promptly, regardless of the circumstances.
Breastfeeding is crucial and beneficial for both the mother and child, yet the topic of nursing in public remains controversial.
Although it is gradually gaining acceptance, breastfeeding often draws more attention than bottle-feeding, and unfortunately, not all of it is positive.
In 2018, a nursing mother’s story went viral after a stranger approached her while she was breastfeeding her son in public and asked her to “cover up.” However, the mother’s response to the stranger’s request made her story even more heartwarming.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE RESTAURANT
Melanie Libson Dudley, a Texan and new mother, made an effort to breastfeed discreetly, even turning her back to other diners while nursing her three-month-old son in a restaurant corner. She had a nursing cover, but removed it due to the hot weather. However, during a family vacation in Cabo San Lucas, a man asked her to cover up while they were seated in the back of a restaurant. Despite her usual discretion, Dudley was unable to comply with his request.
“I had the cover on, but it was just so hot. It was like 95 degrees, and my little boy was sweating. So, I said to myself, ‘I’m on vacation, I’m taking this off,'” Dudley explained. When the stranger confronted her, she was caught off guard and didn’t know how to respond.
“I just placed it over my head. I don’t know why. It wasn’t like a scandalous situation or anything. It was just my reaction. I was speechless, so I thought, ‘let me cover my head instead,'” she recalled. Despite her efforts to be discreet, Dudley was unable to comply with the stranger’s request.
THE INCIDENT IS POSTED ONLINE
Dudley’s husband captured a humorous moment on July 30, 2018, after his wife covered her head while breastfeeding.
The photo was later shared on Facebook by Carol Lockwood, a friend of Dudley’s mother-in-law, who captioned it with praise for the woman’s response to being told to “cover up.” Lockwood encouraged others to share the post, noting that she had obtained permission to make it public and expressing her frustration with the shaming of breastfeeding women.
In addition, Lockwood disclosed that the person who asked Dudley to cover up was a man, and clarified that she was not in a Muslim country where such traditions might be expected. The post quickly gained traction on Facebook, receiving over 136,000 reactions and 224,000 shares. Numerous internet users also shared their opinions on the matter in the comments section.
One user stated that those who want to breastfeed in public should go ahead and do it, and those who don’t like it should simply look away. They added that a few seconds’ glance at a breastfeeding mother shouldn’t cause any permanent psychological harm.
Another user praised this approach and suggested using a pretty handkerchief to lightly cover the baby’s head instead of using a breastfeeding cover, which they deemed excessive.
One respondent expressed their admiration for the woman in question by saying, “I absolutely adore her! No mother should feel ashamed for nursing her child in public. I have witnessed many mothers doing so, and it has never seemed inappropriate or shameful to me. In fact, I think it is a beautiful and affectionate gesture between a mother and her child. I commend her for it!”
In contrast, some respondents disapproved of both Dudley’s public breastfeeding and her response to the situation. “I appreciate the beauty of breastfeeding, but I also think there should be some degree of modesty. Sorry, I’m just old-fashioned,” stated a Facebook user.
A different internet user elaborated, stating, “I am unsure why it’s necessary for her to expose her entire breast while breastfeeding. Providing nourishment to your infant should not justify a lack of modesty or consideration for fellow individuals.”
Expressing disapproval, a third individual commented, “It’s extremely discourteous for a woman to unveil her breast and breastfeed her child in public. What’s unfortunate is that many people no longer recognize the value of maintaining some aspects of our lives as personal and private.”
Following the post’s viral spread, Dudley stated her belief that it resonated with women because public breastfeeding was a topic that had been excessively debated. With the approaching National Breastfeeding Month, Dudley hoped that mothers would prioritize what was best for them and their babies.
According to the mother of three, the primary message was to support nursing mothers, regardless of their choice to cover or not.
Dudley’s experience is not unique as many women face criticism for breastfeeding in public. In 2017, Nicole Blackman encountered a similar situation when a stranger asked her to cover up while nursing her son. Like Dudley, Blackman responded creatively. Avery Lane also faced a similar request to cover up with a towel while breastfeeding her baby four months prior.