Riding The Subway To Support Breastfeeding Rights

While browsing the New York Times City Room blog for the first time in a few days, I spotted a story about a subway ride to support breastfeeding rights. Here is a small sample of Sewell Chan’s article:

Today is the start of World Breastfeeding Week, and partly to mark the occasion, about 30 women nursing infants rode the A train from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia in Washington Heights to Nostrand Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. There, they exited the subway and joined a rally at Restoration Plaza.

But the women were not taking part in the annual subway ride, held since 2004, merely to demonstrate their right to breastfeed in public. (Since 1994, it has been legal for women to breastfeed anywhere in public — “irrespective of whether or not the nipple of the mother’s breast is covered during or incidental to the breastfeeding” — under the state’s Civil Rights Law.)

Click here for the entire article.

Let me state for the record that I have absolutely no problem with women breastfeeding in public. I feel it is their given right to make sure their child is nourished to their satisfaction & I nor anyone else should have the right to dictate when such an action takes place.

After reading the article, I decided to check out the responses. I was not the least bit surprised to find at least one person spew utter nonsense about how breastfeeding in public is wrong. Check out what I feel is a typical close minded response by a poster named “Barbara”:

For pete’s sake, keep that kind of thing out of my face. I do not want to see this anywhere in public. Keep it at home PLEASE! Having a baby comes with lots of sacrifices. This is one of them.

So let me get this straight, a new mother should stay out of public until her child no longer needs to be breastfed? So it would be just fine to have the mother & child become hermits & unproductive citizens. While you are at, why not take them out back & euthanize them. Seriously what kind of idiot would suggest such an idea? If seeing a legal & natural activity gets you that upset, maybe you should stay inside your home. Lets see you “sacrifice” something Barbara!

For the most part, the responses supported a woman’s right to breastfeed in public. However someone named “Ed” posted an interesting comment:

breastfeeding in public is not in any way offensive but why on earth a woman would choose to nourish her child in the stink and filth of a subway car is beyond comprehension.

Two responses down we had “Dan Stackhouse” see what Ed’s point was when he stated:

Another good point here by Ed (#27), and I’d extend it to wonder why any mother would want to subject an infant to the incredibly loud, dirty, crowded, and infectious-germ-laden subway system at all. Wouldn’t the bus be better until their immune systems and inner ears are more robust?

My response to Ed is a rational woman does not want to breastfeed in public much less the subway if it was completely in their control. Unfortunately when a child is & is not hungry is something that not even the most prepared mother could control.

As far as Dan is concerned, what makes the bus any cleaner than the subway? I highly doubt a bus is much cleaner than a subway car if it even is cleaner. For all we know it could be much dirtier. With that aside, I ask why should a mother have to commute out of her way just to avoid breastfeeding on the “dirty” subway? They shouldn’t & as I said if they could make it that they would never have to breastfeed in the subway, they would in an instant.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Weirdly enough, this is that same Dan Stackhouse, stumbling on this over a year later, and what the heck I’ll try to answer the question posed to me.

Buses are cleaner than subways simply because of the air. All the air in subways is mixing around down underground, and in the tunnels. If you’ve ever taken a gulp of the air in, eg: the Lincoln Tunnel, you can tell right away it’s bad air. The tracks are still filthy, people are more crowded together (usually), and there are tons of other differences, but subways are dirtier. Also they’re definitely more noisy, enough to damage eardrums permanently over time, and that’s another reason to keep infants out of them.

I’d suggest that mothers shouldn’t commute with infants when at all possible, and when they do, to take the bus or better yet taxis. Walking is even better. Not at all to keep breastfeeding out of the public eye (I’m all for breastfeeding in public), but for the health of the babies.

Sorry for this much delayed comment out of nowhere, but after all, you did ask me way back when. Cheers!

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