The recent photo of a mum breastfeeding her child on the MRT without a cover (and in the process exposed her breast) caused a stir on social media, inspiring many to weigh in with their opinions.
While most are for breastfeeding in public as it benefits the child, many felt that she should have used a nursing cover or at least tried to cover her breasts a bit. That said, just as many mums empathised with her, and voiced out that they too, have (or had) children who refuse to nurse properly with a cover. And then there are those who are on the fence, believing that the choice is entirely the mum’s prerogative.
With so many differing opinions floating out there, we asked some mums to weigh in on the topic and here’s what they have to say:
Breastfeed with discretion
“Although I’m all for breastfeeding, I don’t think you should use the fact that it is important to feed your little one as an excuse to whip out your breast in public.
That’s why there are nursing covers, nursing rooms and various nursing tops, to allow you to breastfeed in public without exposing too much of yourself. The mother may have exposed herself for a worthy reason, but there should have been some restraint on her part, as not everyone would appreciate the flashing of her bare breasts. Just because she feels that it is not a big deal, doesn’t mean that others don’t, and she should respect the thoughts and feelings of those around her, and practice some modesty.
If it was urgent to feed her baby in that situation, perhaps she could have been a bit modest by lifting her top instead of pulling her top down. That said for myself, if I forget to bring my feeding cloth, I would find a secluded corner or a toilet to feed my child.“
Sophia Evangel Cheah, 37, stay at home mother of three boys, 10, eight and five, with one more baby on the way.
It’s completely natural
“I don’t think that a mother should need to cover up when breastfeeding in public as it is a very natural thing. As the mother mentioned, the baby’s comfort should come first and I think that Singaporeans should be more open-minded about this. I would have done the same thing if I were her.
There are also inadequate public nursing facilities in Singapore. So what should a woman do if her baby is hungry? Let him cry and fuss non-stop? If the baby were to cry excessively because of hunger, this could lead to the baby developing colic.
I hope that Singaporeans would not discriminate against breastfeeding mothers as all they are trying to do is love their child by giving the best that they can — breastmilk.”
Eve Lim, 27, online business owner with a three-month-old baby
Photo should not have been taken
“I don’t think anyone has the right to judge the mum’s actions and whether or not it was acceptable. I would have felt slightly uncomfortable if I saw the scene, but it wouldn’t have been a big deal as she was just trying to feed a hungry baby. If you feel uncomfortable, you can look away or move to another carriage — no one is forcing anyone to look at it.
There are some people who think it’s not right to do this in front of children. If this were the case, the onus falls on the adult who is with the child who witnesses the scene to inform them that the woman is trying to feed her baby as the baby is hungry. I think it’s presumptuous that children would link seeing a breast to something that it sexual and that this would pollute their minds.
In general, I don’t think that people are riled up because she breastfed in public, but because she did it with no discretion whatsoever. I personally do not really breastfeed in public because of the social stigma associated with it, and my baby hates nursing covers too.
The bigger issue I feel, is of the person who took the photo and tried to publicly shame her. There’s really no need to publicly humiliate someone who was just trying to feed her child.”
Fung Ai Leen, 32, regional commercial analyst and mom to a six-month-old baby
She was just feeding her baby
“I think that there has been too much fuss over this matter. After all, there are many women who dress provocatively in public, and yet, there isn’t as much fuss over their outfits. Isn’t it ironic that a mother has to find a discrete place to breastfeed, but no one is stopping provocatively dressed women? Though there are many negative comments, I feel she has the right to ignore them as all she is doing is to trying to breastfeed her daughter — she’s not doing it for any other reason.
The way she did it is purely because of how she is dressed. If she was wearing a shirt, I’m sure she would have just unbuttoned the top few buttons to feed her child, and if a nursing room was an option on the MRT, I’m sure she would have used it. I personally have breastfed in the MRT, taxis, restaurants and in a car in different countries without facing any issues.”
Noorhidayah Mazlan, 29, stay at home mother of a five-year-old girl and two-year-old boy.