Studies prove breastfeeding is the way to go to give babies a lifelong step up. Most moms have likely been told it is the best way to feed their baby for at least the first six months of life.

Breast milk is readily available, provides antibodies, and contains easily digested proteins and carbohydrates essential to healthy growth and development.

American women have embraced the positive aspects of breastfeeding. The 2014 Breastfeeding Report Card of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that nearly 80 percent of infants born in the United States had been breastfed.

Many of us applaud moms who are committed to giving their babies the natural boost that breast milk provides, such as fewer allergies and a lower risk of obesity. It is clearly a positive step. But please — nurse your baby in private.

Breastfeeding is a natural, wholesome exchange between mother and child that helps cement a bond. It is beautiful. It is healthy. But it should be done with discretion and dignity. It does not need to be on display for the general public.

Please, moms, breastfeed with modesty, and in private if possible. A quiet, calm atmosphere is optimum for breastfeeding, after all. If it’s necessary to nurse your baby in public, please be discreet and cover up with a light blanket or scarf.

You might rail against the fact that some people are uncomfortable with any display of nudity, whether it’s to feed a baby or to flaunt their sexuality. But your choices should not infringe on someone else’s sense of propriety. Breasts were made to nurse infants. Must you do it uncovered and right in front of me?

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I’m a nurse and a mother of four, all of whom I breastfed up to 12 months each. Now, I’m a grandmother of five, and I’ve seen my share of breasts. Yet I’m still a little taken aback at how casually today’s moms breastfeed their babies in front of the whole world. There is no effort to cover up in front of siblings, brothers, fathers-in-law, grandmothers or casual acquaintances.

There is no need to sacrifice modesty to breastfeed.

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When my children were young, I made a deliberate decision to call all body parts by their correct name. Using the proper name is more dignified and respectful of a person’s anatomy, and I felt it was important to teach my kids that. Could the casual, public breastfeeding of today be a natural progression of those earlier teachings?

Regardless of the answer, not everyone is as nonchalant or uninhibited as the public nursing moms among us. Breastfeeding in public with no thought of modesty completely disregards other people’s feelings.

Moms who nurse in public are making a point — I get that. But I would ask this: Please just take a quick look at the people around you while you are getting yourself and your baby situated. Everyone is trying to look somewhere else. I know it’s natural and beautiful, but that doesn’t mean it’s suitable at the park, in the mall or at the dinner table without some sort of cover.

It also doesn’t mean that folks who are uncomfortable with public suckling don’t believe in breastfeeding. Maybe they just don’t want to watch you doing it.

Today’s moms typically feed their baby on demand. That’s great for the baby, but it’s difficult for the shy and proper among us, since there’s no obvious or scheduled time to make an appropriate departure. The popular notion is to whip out your breast to feed Junior whenever and wherever he demands it — and to wear a chip on your shoulder if someone seems ill at ease with it.

Go ahead and feed your baby. Just be sensitive to other people’s proclivities.

Let breastfeeding be the celebration of the beautiful act of mother-child bonding that it is — a natural function that deserves dignity and privacy. Give yourself and your baby the chance to connect in private and allow others to relax by covering up. Be gracious, be sensitive and cover your chest with a scarf.

This mom, and plenty of others, will thank you for it.

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