Singaporean mum breastfeeding in public shamed by young women

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What are we teaching our youth when they feel confident enough to approach a breastfeeding mother, call her 'gross' and tell her to feed her children in the toilet?

Yvonne is a Singaporean mum of gorgeous 20 month old twin girls who she is continuing to breastfeed.

Recently, she was having breakfast at Toast Box at MBS and her little girls needed their morning milk. So like any breastfeeding mum would do, she proceeded to nurse them.

While the little girls were feeding, three young women -- probably in their late teens to early 20s --  who were sitting near Yvonne started to point at her and whisper.

Then, Yvonne tells us, one of them walked up to her and said, "Can you stop it? It's very gross. What you are doing makes me feel like throwing up!"

When Yvonne suggested the girl change her seat, she replied, "It's not just me. The whole restaurant can see you and everyone is grossed out. Can't you go to the toilet?"

In response, Yvonne told the young woman that she could have her meal in the toilet if she didn't want to see her little girls breastfeeding, to which the girl complained to a staff member, and told him to chase Yvonne and her babies away.

The staff member just looked at Yvonne, nodded at her and walked away. By this time, Yvonne's husband had returned with her meal and her little girls had stopped nursing.

But throughout their time there, Yvonne says the three young women would not stop talking about how "gross" and "revolting" they thought she was.

public shaming of breastfeeding mum

Breastfeeding is completely natural and normal, and certainly not "gross"!

What are we teaching the next generation about breastfeeding?

First, it needs to be made very clear that breastfeeding in public in Singapore is not a public offence. Breastfeeding mothers have the right to nurse their babies when and where they need to.

Also, not all nursing mums are comfortable using nursing rooms, and not all babies like being underneath a blanket or nursing cover, while feeding.

And let's also keep in mind that Yvonne needed to breastfeed not one, but two hungry little ones -- no mean feat for sure.

Some day, perhaps those three young women will become mums, and find themselves in a situation where they need to nurse a hungry child in public.

Then, perhaps, they may have a flashback to the day they shamed a mother who was minding her own business while quietly breastfeeding her babies.

But until that day comes, the biggest questions arising from this incident that we need to ask ourselves are, "what are we teaching children about the biological function of women's bodies?", and "why is breastfeeding in public still so stigmatised?"

After all, the girls were in their late teens to early 20s.  So one would imagine they would have had some formal education about aspects of the female body's biological function such as pregnancy and childbirth -- and connected to this, the role of female breasts in child-rearing.

Should we blame their school for perhaps not emphasising the critical role breasts play in nurturing babies?

Should we blame their parents, who maybe, one day, reacted in the same way when they saw a mother nursing in public, in front of their daughters? Should we also blame them for not teaching their daughters manners?

Or should we blame the media and the pornography industry for their huge role in the sexualisation of breasts, and along with it, breastfeeding?

Perhaps we should blame them all.

Behind all the discouragement and negative vibes breastfeeding mothers still seem to be getting when they nurse in public, governments, researchers, and health institutes around the world continue to study and promote the stellar benefits of breastfeeding for both mums and their little ones.

With all this authoritative backing behind why breastfeeding is so important, surely nursing in public shouldn’t be the issue that it is today, for some?

But it is. Isn't it time for change?

public shaming of breastfeeding mum

Ashley Kaidel breastfeeding in public, and staring down her 'shamer'

Shaming happens everywhere

Yvonne is not the only breastfeeding mum who has been publicly shamed in recent times. It happens, very frequently, in other countries too.

We read about Ashley Kaidel, the young mum who was publicly shamed by an older woman for nursing her baby in public.

The most recent breastfeeding shaming incident overseas involved an Australian mum, who was asked to leave the food court of a shopping mall for breastfeeding her baby there.

Along with Yvonne's story, these other incidents are just two among thousands of instances where mums have been shamed for feeding their babies in public.

And while it is saddening and disheartening to read about such incidents, at the same time, a spark of hope glimmers in the support that people have started to show to the mums involved.

Continue to the next page for more on why there needs to be more support for and awareness about public breastfeeding, as well as Yvonne's own message to the public.

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