Do women in your country breastfeed their babies in public? In many Western countries, young mothers do this. Most people think nothing of it, but some people believe they should do this in private, not out in the open for all people to see.
In this lesson plan, you can discuss the idea of breastfeeding in public with your students. You may find there is a clear divide in opinion in the classroom. But this should lead to a lot of debate and discussion about the topic.
Feel free to download the entire lesson plan in PDF format. Just click the link below…
What do you think of mothers that breastfeed their babies in public?
Is it perfectly natural? Or an infringement of public decency?
Do mothers have the right to breastfeed in public?
What about other the considerations of the public?
Read Gemma’s story below:
I could not believe it when he said it. I was absolutely speechless.
It all started on a Tuesday morning.
I had been to the clinic for a check-up. The doctor wanted to check me and my baby and see how we were doing. Charlie is only just three months old and so feeding him is very important.
And if he is hungry, he certainly lets me know about it!
So as I was on the way home, I thought we would take a stroll through the park. It was a beautiful day and I thought we would both enjoy it.
As we were halfway through the park, that’s when Charlie let me know it was feeding time.
He started crying and so I parked the pram by a park bench.
I picked him up and held him against my body.
After looking around, I didn’t see anyone so I decided to breastfeed him right there and then.
I understand how people might feel if I were to start breastfeeding Charlie on the bus or in the middle of a coffee shop. No one really wants to see that — and I would not feel comfortable to let anyone see me doing it either.
But we were in the middle of a park with no one around.
He started feeding and was very quiet.
Just me, him and the birds in the park. It was very nice.
Then this man appeared walking his dog.
I immediately saw him and so I covered my body and moved to the side. But I didn’t disturb Charlie feeding. I have found that once he starts feeding it’s best not to stop him until he has had his fill.
But this man gave me a furious look.
He just stood there, staring at me with a frown on his face.
I tried to ignore him but he marched up to me and started shouting.
What do you think you are doing? He said. This is a park, not a creche. If you need to breastfeed your baby you can go to the public toilets to do it.
I went to apologise but I was a bit flustered.
Then he carried on shouting.
Better still, why don’t you go home and feed your brat?
I couldn’t believe it. He actually referred to Charlie as a brat.
I was so taken aback by him shouting and the words he was using that I was unable to speak.
I tried to say sorry, but no words came out.
And because the man was shouting so much, his dog started barking.
This then set Charlie off and he started screaming and crying.
The man then pulled his phone out and took a picture of me.
I was sitting there with my breast exposed and he took a picture.
I’m going to show this to the police, he said. There’s a law about this, you know.
And then he marched off.
I was left on the bench, my whole body shaking, with Charlie crying in my arms.
It was just a horrible experience.
Reading Comprehension Questions
- What day does the story take place? What time?
- Where had Gemma been?
- What is Gemma’s baby’s name? How old is he?
- Which route did Gemma take home?
- Why did Gemma stop by the bench?
- Were there other people nearby?
- What did Gemma do for Charlie on the bench?
- Does Gemma like to breastfeed Charlie in other public areas? Why/why not?
- Who suddenly appeared?
- What did Gemma do?
- How did the man react?
- What did he say to Gemma?
- Did Gemma respond to him?
- What word did the man use to describe Charlie?
- What did the dog do?
- What did Charlie do?
- What did the man do with his phone?
- Why did he do this?
- What state were Gemma and Charlie in after the man left?
pick him up
right there and then
march up to me
Write down all the words and phrases in your vocabulary notebook. Look in your dictionary and find the meaning of each word. Write the definition next to each word.
Then make up your own sentences using each word or phrase.
Notebook—a small book with pages of blank paper that students use to make notes when
“I left my notebook at home so I was unable to make any notes in my English class.”
- What happened in this story? Describe what happened in your own words.
- How do you think Gemma was feeling when she was walking in the park? What kind of mood was she in?
- What do you think Gemma’s views are on breastfeeding in public?
- Why do you think the man was so angry with Gemma?
- Do you agree with him?
- What do you think of his attitude? Was he wrong to talk to Gemma like that? Or was he right?
- What do you think Gemma was feeling when the man spoke to her the way he did?
- What do you think about the man taking a picture of Gemma?
- Do you think he will really show this to the police? How will the police react do you think?
- What are your opinions on breastfeeding in public? Do you agree or disagree?
- Breastfeeding is perfectly natural — yes or no? Explain your opinions on this.
- What are the laws on breastfeeding in your town or city?
- How would you react if you saw a mother breastfeeding her baby in the park?
- How about in a coffee shop? Or on the bus?
- Should there be special facilities in public places for mothers to breastfeed their babies? What kind of facilities? And where should they be?
This is a role play activity.
There are two people in this role play.
- The man in the story
- A policeman
The man walks out of the park and finds a policeman.
He tells the policeman about Gemma breastfeeding her baby in the park. He shows the picture he has on his phone.
- How does the policeman react?
- What actions does he take?
- Is the man happy with this?
In pairs, prepare your role play. The story and ending of your role play is entirely up to you.
When you are ready, show the class!
Debate: Breastfeeding in Public — yes or no?
This is a debate activity.
Divide the class into two groups of equal number. Choose one student to act as chairperson. This student needs to chair the debate and make sure everyone has a chance to speak. They must also ensure there is order and not to allow the debate teams to just shout at each other!
Is breastfeeding in public acceptable? Or should mothers go somewhere more private to breastfeed their baby?
You think that breastfeeding is perfectly natural and mothers should be allowed to breastfeed their babies wherever they please.
There is nothing wrong with it at all — plus the baby is hungry! Who is going to deprive a little baby of feeding?
Anyone who complains is either not a parent. Or very old-fashioned.
You disagree with breastfeeding in public.
You think that in society people should be decent and cover all parts of their body.
You understand that the baby needs to feed, but people should be allowed to go anywhere in public without seeing a mother breastfeeding her child.
And what if a man is present when the woman is breastfeeding? Is he expected to leave the area? Or can he stay where he is?
Both teams should prepare their arguments and the things they want to say before the debate.
Then when both teams are ready, start the debate!
This is a writing exercise.
Continue the story from the beginning of the lesson.
- What does Gemma do next?
- Does someone else appear in the story?
- Where does Gemma go?
- Does she change her mood from upset to very sad? Or maybe she becomes very angry?
- Or does she just laugh it all off?
Write your story any way you like — you are the writer!
Then when it is complete, read it out in front of the class.
And ask your teacher for feedback.
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