Women’s Experiences Breastfeeding in Public Places Journal Articles uri icon

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  • This two-part field study compared researchers’ recorded observations to mothers’ perceptions of attention they received while publicly breastfeeding. In part 1, four breastfeeding and four bottle-feeding mothers each made eight restaurant visits. On average, there were more neutral looks from customers ( P = .01) during breastfeeding visits, but no differences in the amount of overtly negative or positive attention given during breastfeeding versus bottle feeding. In part 2, four breastfeeding mothers made a total of 24 visits to shopping malls. There were more neutral looks given while mothers were breastfeeding and more smiles and comments while they were not feeding, but no difference in total amount of attention received. Breastfeeding mothers acknowledged they had anticipated some undesirable attention but instead received little attention. Nevertheless, they felt “vulnerable” nursing in public. Certain proactive behaviors and personal attributes as well as support from otherwomen enabled them to breastfeed successfully in public.


  • Sheeshka, Judy
  • Potter, Beth
  • Norrie, Emilie
  • Valaitis, Ruta K
  • Adams, Gerald
  • Kuczynski, Leon

publication date

  • February 2001