A recent study by Aeroflow Healthcare found that 1 in 4 people consider public breastfeeding as "inappropriate".
Breastfeeding in public became legal in all 50 US states in 2018, but a large section of the American population still sees the act as indecent. According to Romper, Aeroflow's new research highlights the prevalence of negative sentiments towards breastfeeding.
In May 2019, Aeroflow Healthcare conducted a private study of 1,048 adults living in the United States in order to collect information on general sentiment towards public breastfeeding and public pumping, and the results were less than encouraging. The study found that 25 percent of women and 22 percent of men consider the practice inappropriate. That translates to 1-in-4 women and 1-in-5 men. Researchers also found that 41 percent of men and 34 percent of women don’t believe new moms should be able to breastfeed or pump in a restaurant, despite being a place where people eat.
These results are surprising as they indicate that, on the whole, women have more negative connotations towards public breastfeeding than men do. The results show women are more likely than men to feel uncomfortable when seeing a woman breastfeed or pump in public because they find it "too personal" — about 1-in-3 women (30 percent), as opposed to just under 1-in-4 men (24 percent). However, the research did find women are more likely to advocate for breastfeeding mom's equal rights in the workplace than their male counterparts.
This difference in beliefs about lactation rooms and work breaks for pumping seem to demonstrate men's lack of understanding of the demands of breastfeeding on the body. Moms cannot simply wait until they clock out to pump-- breast pain, engorgement and leaking are realities of not pumping when your body demands it.
"It’s discouraging that new moms still do not have the broad support from both men and women in this country to breastfeed in a public setting," Jennifer Jordan, Aeroflow Healthcare Director of Mom and Baby, explains in a press release. "These attitudes make it challenging for women to confidently return to work, run errands or visit a restaurant without the fear or anxiety of being shamed."
Jordan also told Romper that "the more we can offer increased accommodations and support, the faster breastfeeding in public will become normalized." She added, "We need to protect new moms and their infants, which can be done with measures as small as supporting the breastfeeding moms in your life or encouraging your local government to pass legislation that explicitly protects moms’ rights to breastfeed in public."