Breastfeeding and Formal Events

By Andrea K. Clark

Okay, so by now you have probably seen the highly-controversial cover photo for TIME magazine current issue. If not, you can find it and a short article regarding the topic here. For many, the photo has sparked some heated conversations both online and offline whether breastfeeding toddlers (ages 3 and up) is appropriate or not. While attachment parenting and extended breastfeeding are the topics discussed in the TIME article, this really isn’t what the real controversy regarding the photo is all about.

I think the big issue for many is not only the manner in which this mother is breastfeeding (no doubt TIME used this picture because it would spark interest and controversy) and the fact that it’s being done so blatantly in public. Now, before I get myself in trouble here, please understand that I truly believe that breastfeeding is a wonderful thing for a mother and child to experience and I don’t have any problem with it being done in public whatsoever.

I’m simply stating, that for most people, the big issue with breastfeeding is whether or not it should be done in public and, if so, to what extent a mother should conceal herself and her child from others during this time. So, what does this have to do with formal events?

If you are planning a formal event, such as a wedding, bridal shower, graduation party, work social or some other formal event, keep in mind that you may have some breastfeeding mothers in attendance. As the host or hostess, it is your job to make sure that all of your guests are comfortable for the entire duration of the event.

While your breastfeeding guests may be perfectly comfortable breastfeeding in the same room as all of your other guests (covered or not) this may make some of your other guests very uncomfortable which can cause tension to quickly spread…something you want to avoid at all costs as you want all of your guests to have fun!

So, what can you do? The best option available to you is to choose a venue that has a small room off of the room where the main event will be held and designate this room as a Mother and Baby Room. Then, once your guests begin to arrive and you begin taking their coats, briefcases, etc. you can offer to take the diaper bags from the mothers with infants and tell them that they will be in the Momma and Baby Room, or whatever you choose to call it, and that this room is already set up for diaper changes and breastfeeding.

When you do this, you are letting your breastfeeding guests know that there is a place available for them to nurse in private and that this is where they are expected to do it. No one should be offended by this, especially if you set the room up with a small changing table, air-tight trash can and a rocking chair suitable for breastfeeding.

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