All the Buzz: Public Military Breastfeeding


Lately boobies have been creating quite the commotion. Not because of breast cancer awareness — “save the ta-tas” is now a household phrase — but because of breastfeeding. While it may seem a little weird for a man, and a MANspouse, to be chiming in on this subject, I feel like I should.

Over the course of the last two years breastfeeding has been put in the public eye. Not from the sense that we are getting an eyeful of milk, or even because breasts are being inappropriately exposed at every turn, but because there seems to be a question as to when and where breastfeeding is OK.

I’ve got to admit, as a guy, when I see a woman flop her boobie out so her baby can have a meal/snack, it still weirds me out. When I walk by someone nursing their child at an airport or in a restaurant, I find myself purposefully looking the other way so I don’t appear in any way to be some sort of perv.

But I also must admit, I am a lot more comfortable with it now than I ever was before. I am even more comfortable with it today than I was when my wife was nursing our son. Why? Because now I get it.

Being a MANspouse who tries to stay active in our military community, especially being active with my toddler, I come across quite a number of women with breastfeeding babies. It never fails that if I go to a playgroup, I am almost guaranteed to have a mom in the room nursing her child. When these occurrences first started happening I thought to myself “do you really have to do that here?”  But the more it happened the more I realized it was OK. No … no … it wasn’t OK …. it was RIGHT! Their right.

Whenever someone new shows up to playgroup with a child that is nursing you can always tell they are even more weirded out about nursing in front of me than I am of them. The baby will cry for a bit and then this “oh crap, what do I do? There is a strange man in the room” look will overcome not just the mom’s face, but their entire body language. The mom will become increasingly more uncomfortable until she knows it’s either pack up the rest of the kids she brought to playgroup to go somewhere else, hope I leave or … LET THE PUPPY LOOSE! More often than not the mom will give in to nursing in front of me. Out of respect, once that happens, I do my best to stay on the other side of the room to allow her to be as comfortable as possible.

But every once in awhile you will get the mom who is none the weary of me being in the room. She may in fact even continue to engage me in conversation. The first time a mom who engaged me in conversation while she was feeding her child, I swear, I nearly threw up because I was so nervously uncomfortable with a stranger having a portion of her breast exposed in front of me (even though it was completely covered).

But it only took one mom who would not allow me to escape conversation to make me realize there was nothing weird about the situation. It was all in my head. There was and is nothing sexual about a mom feeding her child. The only people who make it sexual are those who haven’t got a clue. Because, honestly, is there anything more amazing than the fact a human being can provide everything a baby needs (love/affection/food) without having to go to a store?

By now most of you should know about the article talking about servicemembers being proud to breastfeed while IN UNIFORM! This has created quite the stir. But to me, this story is only getting the hype it is getting because of the pictures that were taken. The story in and of itself about moms who wear the uniform breastfeeding in public is not a real issue. Nearly every person in the world is considerate enough to be at least a little modest while feeding their child. That modesty comes in the form of feeding/pumping in a car, locker room, behind the closed door of an office or a host of other places out of view of the general public. Of course actual nursing is a bit different than pumping so it’s a bit more socially acceptable to see a woman in the lobby of an office with her baby on her boob than it is to see her pumping.

But the only thing I can wonder is if this would even be a hot topic if it weren’t for the mom on the left in the picture being almost completely exposed?

I have witnessed several dozen women who were breast feeding while I was in their presence. And I can not recall a single one who showed as much skin as the woman in the picture did. So what that is telling me is that picture was taken for one reason, so all of us fools would be blogging, reading and talking about it. That picture was taken as part of an ad campaign for an organization started by a military spouse. To me, I want that woman who organized this to be my publicist because look at all the talk she has going because of the way the picture was STAGED. It’s making national headlines for goodness sake.

The question coming out of all of this is whether or not it is right for a female servicemember, in uniform, to breastfeed her child. My answer, simply put, HELL YEAH it’s OK. As long as she has respect for those around her. The same respect 99.9 percent of the other moms who nurse have for the general public.

Now, should a woman attached to an infantry unit just whip it out and start feeding her child in front of all the guys? Ummm … no. But would she? If the uncomfortable feeling women at a playgroup get when it is just one strange man in their presence hinders them from nursing, I can only imagine what it would be like with a platoon of men staring her down.

Discretion. It is an incredible thing. Luckily for us there is an honor and integrity that comes from wearing a US Military uniform. Discretion is something all servicemembers should have.

It bugs the crap out of me when I see all these people talking smack about women disgracing the uniform by nursing in it.

Where are all the critics for those folks who dress in drag to make a funny video while wearing a uniform?

Where are all the critics when I am in a restaurant with my family and a group of soldiers (all ranks for the most part) are sitting on the other side of the building using foul language loud enough everyone can hear them, while IN UNIFORM!?!

Where are all the critics who are tearing apart the thousands upon thousands of YouTube videos of servicemen in uniform simulating sex acts on other men, just in the name of fun? (You may call it “dancing,” but we ALL call it “ridin up on somebody and smackin’ dat ass.”)

And don’t even get me started on the immaturity of servicemembers in their PT ‘shorty shorts’ uniform who don’t wear underwear and purposefully rest their leg on a wall so their dingaling dangles inches from another mans face.

This whole thing about women in uniform breast feeding … it got it’s run. I am blogging about it now. And I am just one of dozens. Hundreds of military related Facebook pages have posted about it. Tens of thousands have shared the link. It got it’s play. It’s time to let it go. Servicewomen should without a doubt be allowed to breastfeed in public while in uniform. Just as they have been doing on very rare occasions for a very long time. Providing they are conducting them self in a professional and courteous manner of course. And if you are one of the one’s who really wants to start nitpicking about unprofessionalism in uniform, then go make me a sammich, cuz it’s ‘Peanut Butter Jelly Time’ for you to realize that a disgrace to the uniform does not come in the form of a mom doing one of the most incredible things that the human body can do.

***And if you didn’t get the “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” reference, it’s a link, click on it.***

Editor’s note: seriously, click on that link. Hilarious.

Wayne Perry and his wife reside in Fort Riley, Kansas where his wife serves as a combat medic in the US Army. His wife enlisted in 2010 and they were married in 2006. They have two children, ages 2 and 11. Wayne is currently a stay at home dad. He blogs under the name TheArmyWife(DUDE) and you can find it here. Wayne is honored to be part of the core team for the Army Wife Network. He also is one of the founders of the group MANning the Homefront that works to connect MANspouses. The group at Fort Riley meets once a month for dinner just for the guys and at least once a month for either a family or MANly event. They hope to see similiar groups start across the globe at all military installations. You can find the facebook page for MANning the Homefront here.

About the Author

Wayne Perry
Wayne Perry is a male military spouse (or as he likes to say, a MANspouse). He and his wife have been married for nearly seven years and she has been in the Army for three. Wayne is a stay-at-home dad with two boys that keep him extremely busy. Wayne is also an advocate for MANspouses, inspiring them to get involved in the military community and support each other. Through the facebook page MANning the Homefront he hopes to connect MANspouses with one another.

43 Comments on "All the Buzz: Public Military Breastfeeding"

  1. I liked your blog! Good for you! Well-stated and to the point, especially considering the profanity issues that most folks in uniforms don't seem to care about at all….

  2. WELL SAID! Thank You!

  3. Tips From The Homefront | June 1, 2012 at 1:53 pm |

    Thank you for writing this!!!

    When I was still on AD, one of the officers I worked for walked in on me nursing my young son. He didn't know I was in my office and lucky for him I was covered up. Awkward for him, not for me. After that he was very understanding of what I was doing and often let me leave to nurse my son during the day.

  4. There are many things that men do while in uniform that are disgraceful, yet nothing is done about them. The old saying 'boys will be boys' is said in those situations, yet women are shafted and treated differently.

    I am 100% for breastfeeding in public, private or where ever your CHILD needs to eat. Regardless if the mom is in the Army, Marines, AF, or Navy she is still a mother. It's not disgraceful as some people are saying it is.

    I understand the need to uphold the military to a higher standard than their civilian counterparts. I have no issues with that, but this situation is not disgraceful, disrespectful or demoralizing what it means to be in the military. I also understand that you may not want the men in your unit to see you nursing, which is fine too. However, being a mother does not mean you can not be a fine military member.

  5. Eatmybutt | June 1, 2012 at 4:04 pm |

    Whatever. Im not gonna shave because its natural and beautiful.

  6. Sorry totally disagree. Professional setting must be maintained. I agree its a natural human act. So is deficating and urinating, each has its time and place. They (the women nursing) knew what the standards were when they joined the military. This will be another situation that will end up eating up a lot of a Commander's time. Exposure is exposure,

    • Are you seriously comparing BF to shitting in public?? Grow the eff up dude!!

    • ihaveboobsANDsense | July 4, 2012 at 5:29 pm |

      This is my favorite comment in the entire thread. Good way to put a little perspective on it.

  7. Wait, why are you talking about other instances of troops not properly wearing the uniform when we are mainly discussing what the Airman did? Look, what those Airmen did in public view while in uniform is just plain dumb and not the image the US military needs to have seen around the world. We already know about other times where troops are not doing the proper things in uniform, but the breast feeding thing is the latest.

    I have female Soldiers that have to breast feed and guess what? They go do it in private, like they are supposed to. Personally, I find it funny that I see many female servicemembers speaking out saying what's the big deal, but they don't even realize that damage that it does to them when an image like that is presented. Right now, we got a lot of women (mainly outside the military) pushing hard for them to be in combat units and the such, but when we see photos of them in this light, do you feel comfortable knowing that we could send them to their deaths in the name of equality?

    • How does BF not make them right for a combat role?

    • IHaveBoobsANDSense | July 4, 2012 at 5:35 pm |

      It's not direct damage he is speaking of. It is just another example of how women scream for equality while simultaneously disgracing themselves publicly. These women took and oath exactly like every other service member ever has. They made an exchange- some civilian freedoms for honor and pride in uniform. This is not an issue about breastfeeding at its core, it is an issue of women making harmful choices and then saying THEY are the only ones who matter. The military is a family and what one member does, the others pay for together. I am not against breastfeeding in public when it is done with discretion and common sense. A breast is a breast no matter what is attached to it. To expose oneself in public and then counter attack the person pointing out that more discretion should be used is ignorant and selfish. These women had enough sense to know that what they were doing could bring some disciplinary action. They made a choice to go against the oath they took and for such a silly purpose. They bring the name of women in the military ONCE AGAIN under scrutiny. They fight for combat roles but then show their tits to the world. I speak for myself when I say that the uniform deserves more respect than these two Airmen showed it. Misjudgment? Maybe. But whether you know that stealing is illegal or not, you will still be punished when caught. IF they are not, it will be ANOTHER instance of women asking for a double standard and getting it.

  8. If it's not indiscreet or rude for a woman in uniform to feed her baby with a bottle, then it's not indiscreet or rude for her to feed her baby with her breast. That's it. It's food, not porn, people. End of story.

    • It's one thing to feed your baby in privacy while in uniform, it's another to have 'professional' photos taken such as those. This is not an argument about breastfeeding, it's about professionalism in public while in uniform. So, if a guy has to pee, I guess he should just pull it out and pee where ever he is since it's "natural".

      • yeah cuz peeing is exactly the same as BF. Get a clue!

        • Bottom line, it was VERY UNPROFESSIONAL for those two women to have pictures taken like that. Standards are there for a reason and those who only meet those standards or don't meet them have no business in the military.

      • Christ, how many people are going to compare EATING to PEEING. It's not the same thing. Natural act, yes. Same thing, no.

  9. How are you bringing a child into an industrial enviroment, Children do not belong in the work place.
    Were these Airman not Reservist? So what little time they spend in Uniform they take even more away to breast feed. Sounds like money well spent. The mission also has to be completed, so who is taking the extra load when that troop is not at their station.
    The other main and MAJOR problem with today's troops is they are Social media idiots first and something else second. They do not get clearence for media interaction, they post mission damaging info and pics online, and the same answer always comes up. "I did not think that this was a problem". First there in no "I" in the military, your actions always effects someone or something. Secondly you are not the one to decide what is good or bad for the military, that also goes for you MANspouse, shut up do your job and follow orders. Like them or not, that is what you promised with the OATH OF ENLISTMENT, unless your word is useless or you are a liar.

    • I was with you on the fact that work is not really an appropriate place for a child, and that service members need to think before they post, but you lost me at personal the insults.

  10. Lori Volkman | June 2, 2012 at 9:46 am |

    The Air Guard had a problem with the photo, not nursing in uniform. Did they get approval to use the uniform to promote a personal cause? I’ve heard the answer is no. The rest is a brilliant publicity campaign, that’s what I think. Because now the ANG will be crucified if they try to enforce the rules. Unfortunately that could breed even more hate and

  11. The Air Guard had a problem with the photo, not nursing in uniform. Did the women get approval to use the uniform to promote a personal cause? I’ve heard the answer is no. The rest is a brilliant publicity campaign, that’s what I think. Because now the ANG will be crucified if they try to enforce the rules. Unfortunately that could breed even more hate and

  12. That's the nice thing I like about living in Europe. Over here people don't make a big deal about see a woman's breasts – and they can't understand Americans how "they" make such a big deal of it.

    Now the subject of breast feeding in uniform, some sense of professionalism needs to be adheared to. The pic of the two ANG ladies posing for the pics – NO GO.

  13. I never really had an issue with the act. What bothered me was how they are blatantly out of uniform for being outside, staged photo or not. Per AFI, the coat is to be on and buttoned unless in the immediate work area and authorized by whoever is in charge of the area. The undershirt is to be tucked in at all times unless wearing the maternity uniform. And you're supposed to have your hat on at all times when outdoors unless in designated "no-hat" areas. The last one is particularly irksome because there is no reason to break that rule for what they're doing.

    On the whole, if they'd simply been in an area, such as an office, where having your uniform undone is more acceptable, I wouldn't have given the image a second thought.

    The whole being in uniform for an unofficial, unauthorized cause is another issue altogether.

  14. If you have a problem with a mother feeding her kid. Then you have a problem with a mother dog and her puppies or a new colt and her mother. What is a farmer to do move the colt and the mother to the barn at feeding time?

  15. ColdWarVet75 | June 3, 2012 at 12:01 pm |

    This is just another example of women in the military screaming that they want equality and then wanting special privileges. Do you think the military would consider a single father to bring their kids onto a base to feed them. These women are looking for their 15 minutes of fame and the PC military is giving in to them.

    • They’re not asking for special privileges, they’re asking for they’re god given right to feed their child in the most most natural way. Breast feeding is not a walk in the park that some people make it out to be, it is painful for the first month or so especially if it is your first time nursing. These women are sacrificing more than people realize for they’re children by breast feeding. They can’t take common medicines such as cold medicine, they can not drink whenever they want to, they have to think about if a shirt they are wanting to wear will easily be moved for them to nurse. Trust me it is way more awkward for the woman than it is the men. And if men were able to breast feed I can almost guarantee that you would be not be pitching a hisssy fit like a small spoiled child about them doing it in public. It is impossible to tell a baby that they can’t eat what god intended for them to eat when they are hungry because some ignorant person decided it makes them uncomfortable. Women don’t have blogs and idiotic comments all over the Internet when men pee in public or scratch there balls. They are not breast feeding they’re children just for publicity and if you think that you are a moron.

      • Shawna joining the military is not your God given right. You must qualify and follow the rules like everyone else. I don't compare this to urinating in public but, if you want to use that analogy then lets go there. Say I urinate in front of a camera while standing next to another guy urinating also while facing the camera? Your comparison is idiotic at best. If the women had their back to the camera it would tell a more realistic story. It would also have been more professional and a more accurate representation. It is not professional in the military. If soldiers started to urinate on a tire right next to some female soldiers they would get slammed. If not they risk serious trouble. So don't tell me men aren't held to a standard. I could go on about examples but this whole things is stupid. It was a publicity stunt pure and simple. They should be discharged from the military for it.

        • Since when does urine = baby food. Is that what you've been feeding babies?? Cause thats not good!

  16. Will. I didn’t say joining the military was a god given right, breast feeding is. If god hadn’t intended women to breast feed then they would not lactate. For the women to turn their back to the camera would be for them to say they are ashamed of doing what is natural. Even though it was a publicity stunt it was needed. They probably would not have had to do a publicity stunt if they had not been harassed or criticized for breast feeding while in uniform. These women are obviously proud of the fact that they are in the military while raising a family I personally think that they are very strong women and am damn proud to have them fighting for our country. To discharge them for taking a picture to advocate a cause that they believe in would be ignorant. Not once did I say that men were not held at a standard in the military, I was referring to the whole breast feeding topic in general.

    • "To discharge them for taking a picture to advocate a cause that they believe in would be ignorant."
      You keep saying that when a couple of people decide to appear in a web ad for the American Nazi Party, or for Polygamy United, or some other cause THEY believe in but you do not support.

  17. Good lord yes!! Awesome article. The pictures were staged to bring awarenesss. They were not candid shots but not everyone can read all the way thru when theyre are boobs. As for dishonoring the uniform?? Come on?! Theyre not stripping in it theyre feeding their child. Nothing not honorable about that. Great post. I completely agree with everything you said.

    • What if they had decided they would appear in uniform on the American Nazi Party instead because they support that "cause"? The rule is SIMPLE. You DO NOT appear in uniform for things not endorsed and approved by the military. PERIOD.

  18. John Murray | June 4, 2012 at 7:28 am |

    The question is NOT if a woman should breast feed in uniform, it is if people IN UNIFORM are allowed to be IN UNIFORM and promote an activity not approved and sanctioned by the military. You can't be in uniform and be in an advertisement for Winchester, Honda, a Gay Pride parade or other things so why are people willing to give these two women a pass just because it happens to be a site promoting breast feeding.
    NO. That standard applies EQUALLY otherwise it is no standard at all.

    • Thank you!! As soon as you put breast feeding in the mix, alot of people become blind to the basic issue that you have pointed out. You are right. There are regulations that dictate standards to uphold while in uniform and that is exactly what is at issue here.

  19. To all of you who support this remember that if you support people in uniform endorsing breast feeding websites because you support breast feeding then be prepared to accept, without complaint, people in uniform supporting the KKK, the American Nazi Party, or some other "cause" you find equally offensive. There is a reason the rule exists that you cannot appear in uniform in solicitations for things not endorsed by the military.

  20. Carrie Sullivan | June 4, 2012 at 10:36 am |

    Breastfeeding is natural and women in uniform have every right to do it, however, it is NOT professional in any way, shape or form, to expose your breast in uniform, (two babies attached or not) AND take a picture while doing so. Where is the professionalism in that? Where is the discretion?

  21. Oh wow. After seeing that picture, I can see what the big deal’s about. Since when do women basically show everything while breast feeding?! The lady on the right wasn’t so bad, but the one on the left was letting a lot show. And I do feel that’s wrong. As a female in the military, I wouldn’t be deblousing and pulling up my shirt outdoors to feed my babies (if I had any). It’s not in the regs. The base I’m at now has lots of private rooms for breast feeding mothers to pump and feed their babies while in uniform. If you’re in civvies, anywhere is fine. But if you’re in uniform, stick to the rules!

  22. No, not every time a male military member does something wrong it's splashed everywhere. There are tons of instances that are not made public. Even then some people say 'oh they're just acting like boys' and what have you as if nothing is wrong. Again, women are put in a different standard then men.

    I've been harassed for breastfeeding in public, as well as many other women. It gains media attention because people can't grasp that it's a natural act between a parent and child who is in the care of said parent. When formula was introduced there was a shift from BFing being accepted to it being something 'shameful'. Put a women in uniform and have her BF and oh no no! It's a 'disgrace', and 'shameful' towards the military.

  23. I'm guessing you didn't read the article linked to this one. A pro-breastfeeding blog hired the photographer to shoot various different mothers nursing for National Breastfeeding Awareness month that were going to be turned into posters. One of the sessions was the two service members.

    You can't control how, and when something goes viral. This is not TIME magazine shoving breastfeeding in your face, this was for NBFAM.

    Within the article I'm talking about, one of the service members states this "I have breast-fed in our lobby, in my car, in the park … and I pump, usually in the locker room," she says. "I'm proud to be wearing a uniform while breast-feeding. I'm proud of the photo and I hope it encourages other women to know they can breast-feed whether they're active duty, guard or civilian.".

    There's nothing wrong with a military member breastfeeding, nothing. People like you, and a lot other assume that because a photo like this is circulating it must all be for media attention. Did it ever occur to you that maybe some military members might feel ashamed to breastfeed because of their station? Did it ever occur to you that maybe these women who've posed for posters for a national campaign to show BFing is a right , and not disgusting are trying to help a cause greater than their own?

    Did I suggest YOU said it was a disgrace??? Where in my response to you did I say YOU said that? Please don't ASSume I meant YOU, it's a general statement regarding MANY opinions I've read.

    I'm sorry you and many other people feel the way you do about this. These women are not 'octo mom' wanting to cash in.

  24. So were you against Burning of the Bras as well? These women were just trying to make a statement that Breast Feeding is ok. Maybe they think by bringing some attention to it people will loosen up and not freak out about breast feeding mothers. Just putting out there that this might be a possibility.

  25. For whatever reason SpouseBuzz would not post my first reply…

    These photos come from a set that shows nursing mothers, not just the two in uniform. It's for a national campaign for breastfeeding awareness month. They're not octo-mom trying to earn a paycheck from media attention. This went viral because of that one photo. No one can control how, and when things go viral.

    The whole issue is about women being able to FEED their children regardless of their personal, and professional circumstances. This had nothing to do with moms in the military having the right to nurse, or the negativity people keep spouting. Women, regardless , should be allowed to FEED THEIR CHILD whenever, and wherever.

    For the record, I didn't say YOU did I? No. I was making a general statement of how some people feel about this.

  26. Regardless, they used the uniform as a tool to promote a non military agenda…it was WRONG. I don't care if they breast feed or where, but to ask a photographer to come photograph them and post the pictures to a public forum while in uniform is a disgrace! Frankly they should be booted from the military completely, then they can be free to breast feed wherever they want wearing whatever they want.

  27. yea except for us spouses that are former military…you know…we do exist and frankly…this is just a disgusting publicity stunt that these women need to be kicked out of the military for. I would NEVER have dreamed of pulling a stunt like this while active duty.

  28. Except that the rules are clearly spelled out in the AFI. It doesn't take a genius to find them, read them, understand them. It also doesn't take a genius to understand that the picture was meant to cause a stir… in uniform, while promoting a cause. A cause that the USAF does not have an OFFICIAL interest in. So put those two together:

    taking a picture in uniform + furthering a cause not officially endorsed by the USAF = against regs.

    I may just be "some spouse" but at least I can fully understand that despite their good cause, the way they went about it was wrong.

    I don't need to wear the uniform to tell you that certain things are not appropriate to do while in it. You should know that already.

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