See Why Making Moms Breast-Feed in Bathrooms Is Gross

You wouldn’t want to eat your lunch in a restroom, so why should women have to nurse their babies in one?

(Photo: Tamar Shugert via Facebook/52 Frames)

Mar 11, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

Even the least germophobic among us would probably balk at chowing down on a meal while sitting in a stall of a public restroom. But that’s what some moms who have been shamed over nursing their babies in public do. Now a photo-collage by an Israeli woman is sparking plenty of conversation about how mothers are forced into gross situations just to meet their infant’s basic needs.

In the image on the left side of the collage, Tamar Shugert, a 28-year-old mother of two who is also a professional photographer, pretends to feed her baby in a bathroom stall. At the same time, in the picture on the right, an unhappy-looking man (Shugert’s husband, Daniel) in the next stall pretends to devour a plate of pasta.

“I should feed my baby where???” Shugert wrote in the photo’s caption.“My baby eating is not a gross side effect of having children,” she continued. “If you are not willing to eat your lunch in the bathroom, then don’t expect me to feed my kid there.”

In late February Shugert entered the image into the “Make a Statement” photo challenge run by the Facebook photography page 52Frames, and it won the challenge’s Audience Award. However, the ongoing reaction to the picture reveals the conflicting opinions about whether (or how) women should breast-feed in public. Some commenters are angry that Shugert covered up her baby while nursing it instead of allowing her breast to be exposed. Others are taking issue with women they see who expose some of their breast while feeding their infants.

“I am a mom and I see nothing wrong with breastfeeding in public but you don’t have to make a scene or [big] deal about it,” wrote Facebook commenter Kristina Critelli. “Don’t just whip it out for the world to see,” she added.

Critelli’s attitude is a common one. Last month a manager at a Walmart in Oklahoma took a mom to task for openly nursing in one of the store’s aisles. A week later a group of women returned to the store and held a nurse-in protest—they walked around breast-feeding their babies.

“Whatever a mom does in order to feed their children is a personal choice,” wrote Facebook commenter Meaghan La Plante about Shugert’s photo. “Don’t shame moms into feeding in a bathroom, without a cover, with a cover or bottle feeding or whatever. It’s a choice that each mom makes for themselves and their baby and shouldn’t be ridiculed for their choice,” La Plante wrote.

And as Shugert’s image reminds us, it would be nice if there were always clean and sanitary public places where a mom could make the choice to nurse a hungry infant.