A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

You Are Not the Center of the Universe

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder, breastfeeding in public, Often when I post about a woman who has been harassed while breastfeeding in public or a blog post advocating for the fair treatment of breastfeeding women I see comments such as these:

“I breastfeed in public and have never been harassed.”

“You all must be do something different than me because I have never experienced this.”

“People don’t say anything to me because I don’t just whip it out.”

“She needed to be more discrete and classy about it.”

Let me explain something to you. Your personal experiences do not change someone else’s. Just because something hasn’t happened to you doesn’t mean that it hasn’t happened to someone else. You are not the center of the universe. Further, when a woman is a victim of harassment of any kind it is wildly inappropriate, inaccurate and unsupportive to suggest that she did something to bring that on.

I have never been robbed. That doesn’t mean that someone else hasn’t been. That doesn’t mean that the person who was robbed did something to bring the robbery on. That doesn’t mean that I behave in some way that is better than someone else that prevents me from being robbed. That doesn’t mean that robberies don’t happen every day. Just like the harassment of women. Turn on the news. It’s all public domain. It’s luck of the draw. The stories are not being made up.

We are not the center of the universe. We are not the axis upon which Earth spins. Things are happening all the time to people that don’t happen to others. Breastfeeding women are being harassed, asked to go to the bathroom, asked to cover up and a million other things. If you want to ignore the facts and live in blaming-the-victim-ignorant-bliss then that’s fine, but your argument smells a bit too much like “she shouldn’t have been wearing that short skirt.”

I have never been in a serious car accident. I have never been raped. I have never been abused by my parents. I have never been to Mexico. And you know what? I have never been harassed while breastfeeding in public. Does it make sense then for me to deduce that these things do not happen in other peoples’ lives? Does it makes sense for me to tell myself (and everyone on the internet) that I am doing things right and everyone else is doing things wrong?

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder, breastfeeding in publicThere is no right or wrong way to breastfeed. Your opinion about how someone else should breastfeed is inappropriate. It’s actually very hurtful to the breastfeeding cause as a whole. If you choose to breastfeed in a certain way then we are all here to stand up for your choice. No matter what it is. We do this for everyone. This is the heart of this cause. Women should feel empowered to breastfeed no matter where they are no matter how they want. Despite what you or anyone else thinks. Despite how you yourself would choose to do it. “I support breastfeeding, but (as long as you cover, as long as you are discrete, as long as my husband/kid can’t see you, as long as you stop by 1 year old, as long as you act classy, as long as you don’t just whip it out, and whatever nonsensical limitations you want to try to put on someone else based on your own personal feelings) means you do not support breastfeeding.

Instead let’s try being grateful for the positive experiences that we have. Let’s try being thankful for the lack of negative experiences we have with a certain situation. How about:

“I am so lucky; my support and good thoughts go out to those who suffer.”

“I am so happy I have not had to deal with that type of harassment. I will continue to confidently breastfeed in public to do my part to stand up for other women.”

The reality is everyone has different experiences in the world. Believe them, support them, stand up for them.

Abby Theuring, MSW


  1. Love this! I personally choose to feed uncovered in public, and I know those who are more comfortable with being covered. If you are feeding your baby, don’t apologize! However you do it is fine. Judging those who NIP – not okay. Harassment – not okay. Feeding babies – very okay!

  2. I was once REVERSE harassed about Breastfeeding at a friend’s baby shower. As I discretely made off to the bathroom (where it was quieter and less distracting to my infant), my friend’s mother blocked the way and instructed me to sit down in plain view (among many people who I really didn’t know at all). She then proceeded to make a noisy point of telling me that everyone there was in support of breastfeeding and that I should not be embarrassed. I tried explaining that 1) it was getting chilly out (it was an outdoor event) 2) my child wouldn’t be able to feed well if too much was going on around her 3) I could use her support when it came to my personal breastfeeding decisions.
    The point of my story is to say that we all need to support each other’s decisions, whether that be to nurse in public, in private only or to breast feed (or not). Getting pushy about doing things ‘my way’ is destructive to the relationship a mother has with her child during feeding and can be harmful to her self esteem as well. Feed on!

    • I know!
      I started breastfeeding in public without cover and luckily I’ve never had a bad experience, but since my DD turned 4 mo she gets so distracted I now need to go somewhere quiet and a little dark when possible. Last week a friend of mine criticize me for that without even asking what had made the difference.
      We never really know the story behind anyone or behind any situation. What we need is respect.

    • Britta Spencer says

      I would never tell a mother that she HAD to breastfeed in public but I am a server at a restaurant, and to be honest, I find it annoying when someone hogs the only bathroom for half an hour to nurse their child. I mean you can do that anywhere! But there is only one place where it is acceptable to relieve yourself.

  3. This is so very true! Excellent post. Until we support one another and stand up for one another these things will continue to happen 🙂

  4. I breastfeed in public uncover! My now 18mo old baby loves it! I am also guilty of harassing my sister in law that hides in a room to feed her baby! I will be more supportive of her breastfeeding style. I am sorry, but I think that breastfeeding in public brings awareness and hopefully we can prevent been harast by strangers. Whatever way you like to breastfeed? Go on ladies!

  5. I think we need to be more supportive and less concerned about things being done “my way.” If one of my friends wants a quiet room to nurse her babe then so be it. If she wants to whip it out in front of me then all the power to her. It’s what’s best for her and her child!!

  6. I love this post !!! It talks only the true . My daugher is 26 months and I still breastfeed her. I hearded so many of those coments in the past … But at the end what matters is my princess

  7. Agreed! I admit I have asked Mother’s nursing in a bathroom if they were told to do so or if they are comfortable in there and I normally get the answer that they aren’t comfortable out in the main public area. So I just say “ok, right on. If you’re cool with it so am I. Thanks for breastfeeding your kiddo!” And I leave them alone. Not my choice. Theirs.

  8. Kimberly Voland says

    I choose to cover in front of certain family members only because I personally am not comfortable feeding my son in front of them. They are not big supporters of my bf’ing longer than 6 months or past teeth. They have even joked around saying that when he starts to talk they are going to teach him phrases to embarrass me. Other people (friends and family) I don’t mind nursing without covering. I do nurse in public without covering too, but I do it discretely. I understand that there are many uneducated people out there. A lot say things like “oh you are a pervert” “how can you enjoy something that hurts” “doesn’t he bite” “after 6 months your milk isn’t good for him anymore” “you look foolish nursing in public, you should take that to the family restroom or back out to your car” “what do you think that is going to do to him socially” I’ve heard all these things. That was with my first son. This time I’m not taking any crap. My motto is breast is best and if anyone wants to try and tell me different, go ahead because anything they have to say is uneducated irrelevant. I had someone tell me the other night, haven’t you heard of a bottle? Why yes I have, I don’t pump because I stay home with my baby, therefore he will nurse anywhere and everywhere I go. Breast is best. When he’s hungry he will get boob enough said. I think everyone at the dinner table agreed with me. It shut that person up real fast. I don’t care to embarrass other people, they deserve it! I am first and foremost a mother, my priority is to take care of my sons. My oldest is 5 and what I have pumped I give to him. He loves it. He doesn’t tell his friends that he drinks mama milk, but he knows that he is getting the best 🙂 My youngest is 9 months old today. He is definitely and boob baby 🙂 He gets excited for feeding time, especially bed time. How can you not want your child to have the best, to be healthy, happy, and the bond? I can tell you that there was no other choice for me to bf. I knew before ever having kids that that is what I was going to do. Both times we had rough starts, but it all worked out in the end. I hate to hear that women are bullied to not nurse or made to think that they can’t, their milk isn’t enough, or they had to go back to work and their work place wouldn’t help them continue to do what is best. I understand that some women, their milk never comes in, they get infections that they can’t get passed or they have to take medications that isn’t good for baby. I totally get that, but when a mother is capable of nursing and is told by family and friends that their milk isn’t enough or they should stop after teeth or at 6 months bc their milk isn’t good for them anymore I get so mad. I have had people tell me all this stuff. I also can’t stand a mother having a child and no motherly instinct kicking in. Her only goal is to hurry up and lose the baby weight and be able to go out and drink. And those being the reasons why they don’t nurse. But that is a whole other subject. My point is, we aren’t the center of the universe, but our kids are our center of our universe and therefore doing what is best (bf’ing) for our children is more important than worrying about making other people uncomfortable. Oh sorry for my rant, I’m just very passionate about this and had to get this out 🙂

  9. <3 love it!! and shared it, too. 😀

  10. Britt wills says

    I was discretely nursing my one year old in a hallway of the crystal bridges art museum. I had a cover on and a stroller parked in front of me. I was instructed to stop by a museum official which causes my hungry daughter to start screaming so they could relocate me across the museum in a nursing suite. (Fancy word for coat closet) I was escorted while people on walkie talkies acted like I stole a painting. I laugh about it now, but I was horrified.

  11. I LOVE this post. SO true. I have been lucky and in 5+ years of nursing I’ve never been bothered by anyone about it (other than family), but I know it happens a lot. I almost wish I would be approached just because I’d rather it be me than a newer or less confident breastfeeder. I feel like I’m comfortable enough now (finally; it wasn’t always the case) that I wouldn’t be intimidated and I feel like I could keep calm and help educate the person about breastfeeding and nursing in public.

  12. The only thing I’d add is that it’s helpful to mention that the majority of women don’t get harassed for NIP, I always worry a new Mum will read these stories and think, “oh I’d be mortified if that happened to me, I’d better hide in the bathroom”.

  13. Amy Terry says

    Being a large-breasted woman (lucky me…grrrr), I always felt extremely too self-conscious to breast feed in public, and too scared to throw a blanket over me because I always wanted to make sure there was adequate air pocket for my daughters to breath (these dang boobs are no joke) 🙂 That being said, I always escaped to either a nursing room (which all too often don’t exist in public places), or would retreat to my car and feed them. HOWEVER, I could care less when another woman breast fed w/o cover. I mean seriously, to each their own! For me, it came down to my own insecurities with larger breasts and not wanting to call even more attention to them.

  14. Kayla DeMay says

    I wish I could share this on my wall! I recently had a big argument on facebook about this exact thing and I preached your point til the bitter end.

  15. I am all for breastfeeding in public, just cover up. My husband and sons go pee outside on our 20 acre property. No problem. They do not nor are they legally allowed to pee outside openly in public places. It’s a bodily function, it dries up quickly or absorbs into the ground, no harm done. It is not acceptable.

    My husband doesn’t so much agree with my comparison of the two things but he brings up an interesting point from the male side. He likes legs but a lot of his friends are breast men. His point of contention is that while he is fine with uncovered breastfeeding in public he thinks it’s a double standard that it is not acceptable for men to have a look (more like a good ling stare) at the breasts while it is going on. Apparently some men are actually turned on by lactation above and beyond breasts alone.
    I personally think it’s disgusting but he does have a point. If you go to the beach you are going to get looks. It’s just part of the territory.

    I originally read the headline and thought it would finally be about covering while feeding publicly. The newer covers are a lot easier and more roomy than the blanket I used with my first child. You are not the center of the universe, so please simply cover everything, especially in front of extended family.

    • Really did you read it at all…

    • Elyssa Quinones says

      Wow, just wow. This blog piece was written for people like you. SMH.

    • You weren’t paying attention to this article at all! Comparing feeding your child to a male urinating is awful.

    • Nope. Not even a close comparison. Please go back and read the article.

    • Agree!!! 100%… I have teenage boys, and if you’re going to flop a tit out, don’t get offended when they stare or pitch a tent… to me that’s pedophilia… It’s not classy… I also think it’s a bonding moment between mother and child, not for the entire world!!!

      • yes we read it and it sounded like…if your trashy be trashy and if your classy be classy!

      • just please god tell me why your are going out of your way to stretch out the neck of your shirt and expose your breast through it?? you notice that a majority of the instances where people find this distasteful is when its done in this way? i agree. its perverted. only pervs do that and drunk chicks on spring break. access your breast like u got some sense. dumbies. if i ever see anyone in public doing that imma ask them about all the shirts they can’t wear because they insist on breastfeeding in the most inane way possible.

    • What it’s saying is the babies are the center, not you. That being said no matter what way they get fed it is perfectly 100% ok. Is it your baby or your boobs? It isn’t?! Well then don’t tell someone how they should breastfeed just to make you comfortable. Some babies and toddlers do not like covers and will pull them off. I think of it this way, I wouldn’t like to eat with a blanket over my head and not be able to see. Some babies do great with covers but it’s not for everyone. What’s next telling moms if you don’t feed them in a certain breastfeeding position you are a pervert? I mean come on that is just idiotic

  16. Love it. I totally need everyone else to be doing what I am doing in order to feel okay about my self. I probably shouldn’t equate my value as a mom to my ability to breastfeed. But all you ladies know about that already. Especially you Abby. I need to get a life

  17. I have never had a bad incident breastfeeding in public.

  18. Also comparing feeding a baby or toddler to peeing is just plain stupid. It isn’t the same at all not even close. Don’t know who u r trying to make believe that u r supportive of breastfeeding when u say it has to be discrete or I have issues with it. Well then u are not supportive of people feeding in public not 100% supportive. Besides nothing u say or do is going to make the world revolve around u. It isn’t about u anyways it’s about the babies and toddlers needing to eat. Also my lil one hates covers and it is hard to get her latched while wrestling around with a blanket, etc. So I feed her without a blanket. Yes I am discrete doing so bc u can’t see anything except maybe for couple secs in order to get her latched. But it wouldn’t bother me to see someone else bf differently than me. I don’t see feeding a child as being sexual bc it isn’t and anyone who thinks it’s sexual is an absolute moron. By the way, I don’t see you saying a word to the woman wearing a very low cut top and shorty short shorts over there. U can see just as much boob. U can see her buttcheeks hanging out. But I bet u just walk on without saying a thing. Is she not being sexual? Does she not need to cover up? The way I see it is if u wouldn’t say a word to her then you should shut ur mouth if you see someone bf in public no matter what way they want to do it that’s their business and there is nothing wrong with it. Just like the woman who isn’t nursing and is barely wearing a thing. Who cares? It’s her body. Leave people be.

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