I Didn’t See Breastfeeding on the Syllabus?!

Yesterday I read a story, in the Washington Post, about a professor who breast-fed her sick baby while giving a lecture to her class.  Needless to say, this created a little controversy and sparked debate all over the country.  I bet when the students began their first day of class, they didn’t think that breast-feeding would be covered on the syllabus?!
Aside from the obvious subject of breast-feeding in public, let alone in a classroom during a class lecture...I think the broader issue surrounds balancing work and life responsibilities.  In my almost seven years of being a Mom, my perspective on the ‘work/life’ balance has definitely transformed.  I’d like to think that most times I juggle this act quite well, but truth be told, there are days I feel I won’t know the affect of my choices until my daughter is much older.  And, I’m learning even when I think I got it right, there is always room for improvement. 

I definitely support a mother’s choice to breast-feed.  After all, I nursed my daughter for the first year of her life, alternating nursing and pumping when I went back to work.  Although I wouldn’t have any objection to a Mom nursing her baby in public, I have only ever done it once at a rest stop (inside our car) during a long road trip.

As a working professional, I sympathize with this professor’s challenge.  There are days when we are forced to choose between work and life.  Many times, the choice has to be work to generate income to sustain life.  Was it the case in this situation, I don’t think so...

In the professor’s response via a blog post: Exposéing My Breasts On The Internet, she thought that the campus was family-friendly, especially during her first year as a working parent.  But, I think the story changes once it shifts to nursing in front of students during a class lecture.  Was this worth preventing cancellation of the first day of class?  Could she have prerecorded the lecture and had it play during the class in her absence?  Could she have began the lecture and ended the class early to tend to her child’s needs?  Should the baby have been outdoors altogether since she was sick?  Was she trying to be all things to all people...who takes priority? 

While my employer supports working parents (including setting up a “Nursing Room” equipped with breast pumps and refrigerators for moms returning to work); I doubt if they’d consider me nursing at my cubicle an appropriate solution for my work/life balance.  There are some that may question the professor and her management of handling her child that was sick.  There are others that question the professor and her management of her response following these course of events.  Everyone in that classroom and the administration had the right to have an objection to the professor nursing her daughter during a class lecture.  I thought the professor showed that she was a loving mother; but I also thought that her actions blurred the line of professionalism.

I am not naive to think that there is only one right answer that will work for all circumstances.  But I am a firm believer that some times, the right answer is to do what’s right for your children.

What do you think about the professor nursing during a class lecture?  Are you in support of her actions?  Do you feel that she should’ve made a different choice?  Please share your thoughts with a comment below.  

Thanks for reading!


  1. I am a professional wife and mother who breastfed all four of my children for about 16 months including twins. I breastfed my children where ever they were hungry, including in public. However, when I nursed my children in public I covered myself and the child(ren) with a very large scarf so that none of my personal parts were ever seen by the public. I did look like I had a huge, weird lump. My breastfeeding never made anyone uncomfortable.

    There is a time and place for everything, and breastfeeding while lecturing is not appropriate even in a family friendly atmosphere.


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