Military Moms Should Not Breastfeed In Public While In Uniform

Surprised to hear that coming from the gal that hosted the Breastfeeding Blog Hop for a year and opening supports nursing in public?

You shouldn’t be.

Military Moms Breastfeeding

Photo Credit: Brynja Sigurdardottir

You may have already seen the articles online about the military moms who are “proud” to breastfeed in uniform.

Here’s the deal, folks. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with breastfeeding in public. Just don’t do it in uniform.

One commenter said it best:

The military is not a civilian job. We go to combat and we make life or death decisions, and not just for ourselves but for those we lead. The same reason I would never nurse in uniform is the same reason I do not chew gum, or walk and talk on my cell phone, or even run into the store in my utility uniform. … We are warfighting professionals. Women before us have worked too hard to earn and retain the respect of their male peers. I don’t want my Marines to look at me any other way than as a Marine.

I think she’s right. Woman have fought too long and too hard to be part of our armed forces. The military isn’t about men or women and what each sex can or cannot do. It’s about our troops, performing an amazing sacrifice on behalf of their country.

Other professions have the luxury of different rules and norms. Although there isn’t any official policy about breastfeeding in uniform, I think it goes without saying that if you are nursing in public, it should be as a civilian, not a soldier.


  1. I totally agree. I don’t mind women breastfeeding in public, but I don’t think they should be doing it in uniform. To me, being in uniform means you are on the job and on duty.

  2. I can see where she is coming from on that. When women are in an authoritative position, they want others to look at them accordingly and with respect. I guess breastfeeding in uniform would show something as not being as strong as your fellow soldiers, I guess being kind of “weak” from what I’m getting from the quote.

  3. I don’t see a difference at all. Clothes are clothes. Professions are professions. Women in general have had a tough go at proving equality and it doesn’t just apply to soldiers. Babies are breastfed. Whether you are a doctor, a lawyer, a stay at home mom, a soldier or a student, you should have the right to feed them regardless of what you are wearing.

    I have to wonder if this would be any different if the photo was of two doctors, in uniform, feeding their babies. Or, women politicians, in business suits, who just came out of a policy meeting and decided to breastfeed their babies. Women in the military don’t have to be portrayed as being “tough” all of the time simply because they chose a “tough” profession. They are still moms, daughters, sisters and wives and are still allowed to have softness to them.

    I think this photo is beautiful and I am appreciative of what those moms do for your country.

  4. Rebecca Smith says:

    I agree with you, a woman who knowingly signs a contract with a strict dress code and code of conduct should know that bfing in said uniform might not be authorized. If these had been personal photos for private use, good for them, but they’re not. This is from a proud bfing mama who lived the military life (as a spouse, not a soldier, but familiar with military life) for 4 years.

  5. My brother just came home over the weekend from training, he is in the army, and he did not wear his uniform home. He felt that it would take away from the soldiers that are fighting or are active duty in other countries and he has barely been out of basic. He also felt it makes him a type of “target”. Not just for people that are anti-military but again, drawing attention to the fact that he is in the army alone is not a real reason for him to get special attention. There are certain things you can and cannot do in uniform. Military is held at a higher standard. While I understand that doctors may hold the lives of their patients in their hands military is a different level altogether. I agree that breastfeeding in uniform might be a personal decision but I wouldn’t do it if it was me. Not because it is a sign of weakness but because there is such a fine line that has been established for “equality” in that area. It’s not that I don’t think it should be “allowed” it’s just that I don’t think there is a place for it. When exactly would a woman in uniform have time to be breastfeeding her child? They have a job to do, and all of the women that I know in the military are proud to do that job, just as proud as they are to be parents.

  6. I disagree. I think that breastfeeding needs to be seen as a normalized activity by any person, just like eating, sleeping and using the restroom. While I completely understand that taking on the duties of a military person you give up certain freedoms and certain abilities to tend to family needs. However, if the mother is in a position to breastfeed, in uniform or not, and wishes to, she should take that opportunity. I see many people who go to the store or talk on their phone in uniform (I don’t know about gum chewing, I’m not watching that closely) and to me it doesn’t reflect on their professionalism or their ability to make life or death decisions and seeing a woman breastfeeding her child while in uniform wouldn’t make me think any differently about her, her ability to do her job or her commitment to her job. And I think if nursing was more open and public in our society anyway, it wouldn’t even flash on anyone’s radar at all.

    I don’t see how nursing while in uniform would send a different or worse message than bottle feeding an infant while in uniform would, I guess that’s really what it comes down to.

  7. Being a marine and being an airmen are two completely different things. I am in the Air Force and I know my fair share of Marines and their policies which are not the same as the Air Forces. I nurse my 2 month old in uniform just as I did with my 2 year old. I’m not going to change into civies run to the daycare to feed, change back into uniform and go to work. No one has ever made a negative comment but rather how much respect they have of the sacrifices we make.

    • I am in the Air Force and my husband is in the Marines, I don’t see how they are two completely different things. I totally agree with the original comment, and have never breastfed in public while wearing my uniform. When I am on lunch break I go to the CDC and breastfeed in private. I have 3 kids all whom I breastfed while on Active Duty in the Air Force for at least a year. When I’m in my uniform I am not a civilian, I’m in the military so I do not have the same freedoms. Air Force, Marine, Navy, and Army are all military. Not one is held at a different standard than the other. I am pro breastfeeding in public, not pro breastfeeding in public while wearing your MILITARY (which ever branch it may be) uniform. Military members in uniform regardless of sex should be viewed as a soldier, not a mom, not a dad, not gay, not lesbian, not married, not single….just a soldier.

  8. I have to say, I think anyone should be able to breastfeed openly in whatever they are wearing. Women are biologically different from men. It is fact. Feeding a baby in uniform does not make a woman look weaker or less liberated, nor can it compare with “chewing gum.” It is a biologically normal thing for a woman to do.

  9. Fireless says:

    Has anyone considered that this photograph was simply posed? It’s a professional photograph, it’s a staged shot; my guess is that it’s got less to do with breastfeeding in uniform and more that mothers serve in the military.

  10. Does this mean that fathers that come home from deployment and surprise their children at school shouldn’t be doing this “fatherly” thing while still in uniform?

  11. I have to agree with you! While I try not to get involved in debates like this, and don’t really understand much about Military practices and policies, it really isn’t just a profession. And a military uniform isn’t just clothes, it’s a symbol and a responsibility as well. There are tons of things that aren’t appropriate for a soldier to do in uniform, and as much as I support breastfeeding AND breastfeeding in public, I think it’s one of them. It’s not about women’s rights or equality or how natural it is to feed your baby.

  12. I’m a guy so my opinion may not carry the same weight as if from a woman but I could not disagree with this premise more if I tried.

    Women fought long and hard to get the right the full rights of men in the US and are still tightly, sadly, for those rights. One of those rights is be in the armed forces.

    Just because a woman decides to join the military does not mean that she leaves her being a woman at the door. Women get pregnant. Women have babies. Women breastfeed those babies. Women should be able to feed their hungry children anywhere, anytime regardless of what they are wearing.

    So, let’s flip this question on its head:

    Should a man in uniform be allowed to bottle feed his child?

    If the answer is yes, then a woman should be able to breastfeed. If no, well, then there are bigger issues that need to be addressed as to what is or is not permitted behavior while in uniform.

  13. I’m going to have to say that I’m with Roger on this one. I come from a large military family. No one who has served in my family finds anything wrong with this. I strongly believe that breastfeeding is a normal, natural bodily function that women were designed for. To say a woman can’t breastfeed simply because she happens to still be in uniform is like saying you can’t go urinate/relief yourself while in uniform … another natural bodily function. I respect everyone’s opinions … I just don’t see anything wrong with it. For all of you service members and family members of service members, thank you for your many sacrifices. Know that you are appreciated!

  14. I don’t care who breastfeeds and what they are wearing, but I do not agree with these women posing for a picture to get attention for it. I don’t think that they are really in the military either. Who cares if someone in the military wearing a uniform wants to breastfeed, just don’t blast a picture of it on social websites. Do that while you are wearing your civilian clothes.

    • The photo was for a campaign that an Air Force base was running on breastfeeding at that base I believe. So it wasn’t just for social media sites. It just went viral.

      • Then why did the Air Force allow them to take a photo while the girls were not wearing a cover (hat)? This is such a fake photo! This photo was made to go viral from breastfeeding in combat boots. They scheduled an interview with CNN today about it…your info is wrong Alison. This is crap we are all even talking about it. These girls are a mockery to the Military. No wonder they are Air force Reserve…they don’t care about Military guidelines and lifestyles…they are fake.

  15. I know that I am going to take some real hits for my comments on this one, but here goes….

    My first reaction to this photo was pure laughter. I was like, for real? She sits with both of her babies pressed into her boobs like that at one time in the uniform she wears all day long and breast feeds? Get outta here.

    I thought the mom on the right looked more real breastfeeding. I couldn’t have cared less that they were in uniform. I didn’t even get that it was a statement piece – women in the armed services do not take breaks during the day to go breast feed. This is a purely after work pursuit and anybody who has been in their work clothes all day long and is an experienced breast feeder (as I am, and in the vernacular of the onceier – I speak for the nursers) those clothes are the first thing that go when you walk in the house. Nobody nurses in the clothes they wore all day long, least of all if it is a uniform. Period.

    The photo is really nuts. The mom on the left looks like she was once a Playboy bunny, but then went into the armed forces, and then became a nursing mom, with perfect boobs that shoot milk out straight forward. Get outta here.

    • These were women taking a break during drills. Their children are often on base when this happens and yes many do take breaks to breastfeed. The Air Force, the Marines, other branches support this. If they’re dropping off at daycare, visiting afterwards, they will nurse they’re children if need be. Often times this happens while in uniform.

      • Barbara says:

        Then wear are their hats? I’m not 100% sure I’ve decide how I feel about this shot, but they are NOT in uniform per se if they are not even wearing head dress. Plain and simple. So, if this is not posed, where are their hats?

  16. I love that Elizabeth. So… it’s really just to get us talking about it… and I agree, no one breastfeeds like the ‘Twins’ momma!

    • Except for you know…moms of Twins 🙂 There are no shortage of photos of moms feeding their twins exactly like the mom in the photo.

  17. Elliot Richard says:

    As a soldier a mom should not breastfeed in public with uniform. So, your speeches are absolutely right. A military mom can breastfeed her child in public while she remains without uniform and out of duty.

  18. You are absolutely right. A military mom can love and breastfeed her child but it should be following the military rules and absolutely without uniform.

  19. She does have a point. Enough said.

  20. Tell you what, when servicemen stop hanging out in strip clubs while in uniform, stop getting piss ant drunk during Fleet Week while in uniform, stop smoking while in uniform….I’ll consider this whole ‘professionalism’ issue with breastfeeding while in uniform. Until then it is simply another form discrimination against women. Many women breastfeed while in uniform, many commanders, they’ve still managed to serve with the respect they’ve earned from their peers. This is much to do about nothing. This is the same argument we’ve seen in support of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I give our servicemen and women more credit than that. They can do their jobs regardless of whether or not a mom stops to nurse her child while in uniform.

  21. I believe that military woman should be able to breast feed no matter what they are in because its not like the babies can say “hey mom go change, I think I am hungry”.

  22. I think military woman should be able to breast feed no matter what they are in. Its not like the baby can say “Hey mom, get out of your uniform because I am hungry.”

  23. I think people are forming opinions out of context – these women are in uniform on base where their kids live with them…. They aren’t out in a public park or actively doing their military related jobs…. Also , they are not wearing their “formal” military attire.

  24. I totally agree with you. I’m also completely over these stupid “shock” photos of breastfeeding. It started with the Time magazine cover that was totally over the top. I’ve NEVER seen anyone breastfeed twins at the same time, and this shows that as a way to shock the viewers. I’m one who thinks that, while you shouldn’t have to cover the baby’s head, you also shouldn’t be getting a Cinemax view of someone’s breasts while in public. Back to the original subject, yes? Anyway, there’s a reason for RULES while in uniform. If men aren’t allowed to walk around with their shirts or jackets unbuttoned in public because of those rules, why should it be different for a woman in uniform? I’m sick of the whole thing. “I’m a woman, so I should be able to do whatever I want…” sounds like the issue we had with men all those years ago when women were Stepford wives and made sure the house was spotless, dinner was made, and so was her face before her husband comes home. You’re no better than a man, so why should there be separate rules? UGH!

    /end rant

  25. Hey how come no one is mentioning that they are not wearing their covers (hat) while they are outside? I don’t care what branch of Military you are in, but that is DEFINITELY out of military uniform regulations. Oh yea, and just for all of you out there who think that the military does not allow breastfeeding in uniform, check out what the Navy has down in their Opnavist. Scroll down to 2-8 which is like the last 2 pages. This is the official guidelines for breastfeeding in uniform. I don’t know what the other branches guidelines are, but I’m sure they are very similar. These girls are making a bigger skeptical of something that is not an issue. What posers.

  26. I firmly support the military when they say that the uniform is not to be used to further any cause – ANY CAUSE. No matter how great the cause is. Moms who breastfeed rock, but the military shouldn’t be used to promote it, in my opinion. Unless the military wants to, of course.

  27. Interesting…. As a wife of a service member, I have seen how difficult it can be for women to be taken seriously in certain jobs. Breastfeeding is natural and necessary and its role is important; I personally don’t feel nourishing your child in public undermines military authority,,,,, but,,,,, women have to appreciate the larger picture. Many men are uncomfortable with public breastfeeding already,,,, let alone in the uniform of someone defending our country.

  28. So, what about pregnant women in the military? Don’t they wear the uniform just as everyone else? I don’t see how being pregnant in uniform is any different than breastfeeding in uniform.

    The fact that women are able to have children, care for those children and still do the job of a soldier is empowering. Every mother knows that child birth and parenting isn’t easy, but to do it with the demands of a military job? I don’t see how any male counterpart could look down on that.

  29. Jennifer G says:

    If a woman can be modest while breastfeeding, I suppose a woman in uniform would be no different than any other woman breastfeeding her child. I do not care to see a woman pulling out/exposing her breasts (like the woman pictured who is feeding twins) when I know there are ways for women to breastfeed their children without making a spectacle of themselves, even in public. There are nursing covers, blankets, shirts that cover the breast so that it is not exposed (like the woman pictured who is feeding the other child). I am not opposed to women breastfeeding in public, I just don’t want myself, or my husband or my child(ren) to be exposed to their bodies in the process. I am having my second child soon and hope to breast feed. I also intend to make sure I have a way to keep myself covered, so that I am not uncomfortable and I do not make others uncomfortable.

  30. I have to admit that I can’t even understand why this caused a controversy. To me, a mother should nurse her baby when the baby is hungry, it shouldn’t matter what she is wearing when she does so. It seems ridiculous that she would have to change her clothes just to feed her baby. The fact that this photo created such a stir was so disheartening to me because it means we have a long way to go before breastfeeding is the cultural norm.

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