British Columbia

Breastfeeding debate: from endorsements to calls for cover ups

A CBC story about a Burnaby woman who said she was embarrassed by a flight attendant when she started breastfeeding her baby has prompted an outpouring of reactions about breastfeeding in public.

Kristen Hilderman's experience on a United Airlines flight has sparked yet another debate about breastfeeding

The issue of etiquette and attitudes towards breastfeeding in public is up for debate once again. (iStock)

A CBC story about a Burnaby woman who said she was embarrassed by a United Airlines flight attendant when she started breastfeeding on a recent flight has prompted an outpouring of reactions about breastfeeding in public.

Kristen Hilderman alleged that when she started feeding her five-month-old son, a flight attendant addressed her husband, tossed a blanket at him, and then told him to "help her out."

Hilderman's story has attracted sympathy, outrage and criticism about breastfeeding in public. Here are some comments that appeared on B.C. Almanac:  

It's only natural

"It's completely natural and normal. I think it's a real shame that women feel that they have to cover up and do it behind closed doors and whatever else. If they choose to do so, that's great, but to force people to do that is absolutely ridiculous."

Just cover up

"I'm a father of two and I endorse mothers breastfeeding in public as long as it's tastefully done.

"We do not know all the details of what was said by who and when. We do not know exactly what could be seen by whom and from what angle. I personally do not believe it to be an unreasonable request for a mother to gently apply a suitable blanket to herself with intent of shielding her breast from public exposure regardless of what public venue she is in."  

Covering up isn't as easy as you'd think

"You're working with a young baby who is pulling on cover ups and blouses and bras and they're not making it easy to be discrete. It's easy to say, 'Be discrete when you're breastfeeding,' but actually being discrete is quite a challenge."

Think of the baby

"It's not about baring your breast to the public, it's about feeding your child. It's the only way for mothers to feed their children if you choose a breastfeeding route. If people are uncomfortable about it, they can look away."

To hear the full debate on breastfeeding in public, click on the audio labelled: Breastfeeding incident on United Airlines flight prompts debate.


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