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Warped Priorities

Remember the story about the protest planned at a restaurant whose manager had the gall to ask a breastfeeding mother to make an attempt to cover up?

It prompted a question in the Patrick’s Place Poll:  How do you feel about breastfeeding in public?  Here were the results:

  • 60% – Moms should breastfeed in public, but should try to be discreet.
  • 23% – Moms should do it in public and everyone should deal with it.
  • 10% – Moms should do it in public, but should be very discreet.
  • 7% – Moms should go somewhere private for the sake of others’ feelings.

The majority here are the ones I agree with; those who feel that everyone else should just “get over it” are really in the same boat as those who would banish moms to a restroom and have them “get over it.”  A little compromise goes a long way.

When I’ve talked about breastfeeding before, one of the main arguments I’ve heard from moms who seem to think that no one else should have any opinion whatsoever about the practice is that when a hungry infant needs to eat, nothing is more important.

This story might be enough to make them rethink that little line of reasoning.

An Ohio mom was given a ticket for breastfeeding her child while she was driving her other children to school.  And apparently, for at least part of the time she was driving and breastfeeding, she was also talking on a cell phone.

The mom actually agreed to a television interview, admitted she’d been breastfeeding while driving, and added, “If my child’s hungry, I’m going to feed it.”

If nothing is more important than feeding a hungry baby whenever and wherever its stomach calls, then I guess there’s nothing wrong with this scenario.

She then added this line of screwed-up logic:

“Walking down the street can be dangerous.  I’m not going to say that this one incident was just going to put us in harm’s way.”

Well, sure, walking down the street can be dangerous.  That’s why we walk on sidewalks, not in the middle of an interstate.  Driving a car can be dangerous, too.  That’s why most conscientious drivers don’t allow themselves to be distracted in any way, especially when they have young children in the car.

I think keeping the baby safe — by keeping it in a child safety seat while a car is in motion — is at least as important as its next meal.  I also think that endangering a baby by placing it between a mother and a steering wheel, which would have resulted in serious injuries at the very least had she been in any kind of collision, isn’t justified by that “critical need” for food.

Why didn’t she get up a little earlier to breastfeed before taking the kids to school?  And what was so important that she needed to further distract herself from driving by talking on a telephone en route?

I’m guessing the judge is going to throw the book at her.  Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but it’s not worth that level of risk.


  1. Kim, I don’t think I referred to anyone in the poll as being “crazy.” What I did suggest is that that the mothers who want to breastfeed completely out in the open without any regard for others’ feelings are no better than they think those who’d banish them to a restroom are; that is, both sides want it their way or no way, and both are being unwilling to listen to any kind of reason.

    I agree with you that most moms do have a good feel for what their baby needs. I don’t see, however, how a mom can be so focused on her baby’s need for food, and put them at such a high level of danger while driving to get them that food just that minute. Assuming the mom’s other kids live relatively close to school, what would have been the harm in getting the kids to school, parking somewhere at the school and then breastfeeding in the car there?

  2. Well, I’m probably one of the crazy mothers you referred to in the poll. But let me start by saying *I would never, under any circumstances put my child in my lap while driving… let alone breast feed.* But I have traveled via airplane with babies in tow. And an infant cannot equalize pressure in their little ears like adults can, so hence the need for the sucking reflex. For the record, not all babies will latch on to a bottle or pacifier. I think the circumstances of the mother in the Ohio case are warped. But most moms have a good feel for what their baby needs. And hopefully those needs can be met as discreetly as possible. I just think Americans are so appalled by a breast in public. *gasp* By the time I had my third child, I could feed and no one would be the wiser. However, I have shown some breast occasionally… and if anyone was offended, then they probably should never watch prime time television either.

  3. Not sure what the law is in Ohio or elsewhere, but here in Ontario, the law is very strict. All children falling under a specific age/size restriction are required to be securely strapped into a government approved child restraint seat while in a car. Public opinion is very supportive of this law. Up here, this woman was breaking three or four laws, all at once. In addition to endangering her child and herself, she was endangering other people on the road with her. She deserves a harsh sentence.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.