I was talking to a friend who became a mother recently. She needs to travel, and takes her son along, but she was saying that one of her problems when travelling is not knowing how to behave regarding breastfeeding.

In some country's breastfeeding publicly is acceptable, others you can do it but you should choose a place a bit hidden, some accept showing the breast and others you probably shouldn't even breastfeed in public.

Is there some resource or guide that gives tips about this subject?

  • 2
    Here is a summary of breastfeeding policies of various airlines (article is of 2008 but likely has been updated).
    – mts
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 11:37
  • I doubt there is a 'guide' - who would be in a position to make one? I can tell you that in western Europe, it is commonly accepted; in the USA you might run in trouble, some people call the police, some consider it perfectly fine. There are specially designed covers/hoods you can fasten around the mothers neck that cover the breast and the baby.
    – Aganju
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 11:40
  • If you have a big thin shawl, of a weave that is almost see through, you can wrap that around you and the child, covering the breast (and baby face) from sight but without having the baby suffer from over heating. You can wrap in several different ways, but open to the top is almost always acceptable.
    – Willeke
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 15:54
  • 1
    @Aganju: people can call the police if they want, but in almost all of the USA, breastfeeding in public is protected by law huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/01/… Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 17:55
  • 1
    @Aganju "who would be in a position to make [a guide]?" If only there were some kind of global network of computers that made it possible for people to collaboratively produce information resources without even having to know each other. Oh, wait... Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 19:12

1 Answer 1


Country guides

The closest I can find to a "guide" is the Wikipedia entry on Breastfeeding in Public. It has a comprehensive list of attitudes by country and continent that is a good head start for many places.
Picking a country at random, for China it states:

Breastfeeding in public in China has traditionally been a nonissue, and objection had been unheard of until 2010s. The recent few instances of objection are apparently an effect of magnification of the social media. The notion that breastfeeding in public is inappropriate, offensive, or otherwise objectionable, seems to have been introduced as a result of globalization.

In Shanghai, breastfeeding in public is considered embarrassing by some, but it is also accepted by many. There have been calls for the establishment of babycare facilities in public places.[11][12]

Searching for more info

If the country you are considering is not listed, has little information to be found there or if you want to check further, I would google "breastfeeding [country]" or "breastfeeding attitudes [country]" or "breastfeeding in public [country]". Again for the example of China above and the last query I get first hit the above mentioned Wiki and then a set of recent articles, such as "China's breastfeeding mothers in cover up dilemma" which also gives a good impression on what seems the current attitude:

Debate in China over breastfeeding in public is not a new one and is one that mothers and the general public have struggled with for generations. Lately, the general attitude has shifted to demanding mothers not to breastfeed in public and to “respect privacy”.

Breastfeeding on planes

In the motherhood blog "PhD in Parenting" there is an interesting guide on breastfeeding policies of various airlines. It is of 2008 unfortunately and may not have been maintained since (the blog is no longer active as of 2015). As above, you could do a search such as "breastfeeding [name of airline]".
Again, doing an example search for Delta Airlines, the first link is a Delta homepage on Flying with Children where it says under "infant travel"

Delta fully supports a woman’s right to breast-feed on board Delta and Delta Connection aircraft and in Delta facilities. Breast pumps are allowed on board.

and that matches with the info in the blog.

Surveys and studies

If you like a more scientific take, there is a 2014 survey conducted in Brazil, China, France, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States on breastfeeding by Lansinoh (a company active in breastfeeding supplies, so be careful). All results can be accessed there or have a look to this article in "Mothermag".

There is also an article on "Breastfeeding in Public: A Global Review of Different Attitudes towards It" in the "Journal of Pediatrics & Neonatal Care". It comes to the little surprising conclusion that

Acceptance of public breastfeeding varies tremendously around the world. United States of America and some European countries accept and support breastfeeding in public both in theory and practise. These countries have recently established relevant legislation that protects breastfeeding in public places as well as at workplace. Since breast milk is critical for both maternal and child health, local, national and international public health organizations should consider promoting both legislative and marketing activities to promote acceptance of public nursing.

Word of warning: don't click the pdf link for that article, it wrongly links to another article that I assume you don't want to see!

  • 8
    Of course everyone is going to open the pdf now! I second mts's warning. Don't open it!
    – Berwyn
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 13:04
  • 1
    wow, great answer, especially the coaching on techniques for effective googling. Effective google searching is a skill often taken for granted by those who have it, and frustratingly mysterious to those who don't (yet).
    – Spike0xff
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 16:10
  • Worth noting that just because an area has laws saying you can breastfeed in public doesn't mean that everyone is going to be comfortable with or like it. If it's not too inconvenient, and one cares about offending others, then it's never a bad idea to look for privacy.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 16:54
  • 2
    @DCShannon I think whether people are uncomfortable or not is their problem
    – Berwyn
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 19:50
  • 2
    @Berwyn Making people near where you live or in your home country uncomfortable is a personal choice. While traveling far from home, making people uncomfortable is stupid. The reaction might be much harsher than someone would anticipate, and a run-in with law-enforcement in a foreign country might ruin your trip.
    – Itsme2003
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 21:56

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .