Breastfeeding on the 71L

On est bien chez sa maman

In March, we posted a photo of a woman breastfeeding on the J-Church. The post prompted a lot of comments on either side of the public-breastfeeding debate. We learned that it is perfectly legal (of course, why wouldn’t it be?) to breastfeed in public in California — in fact, it is illegal to prohibit anyone from doing so in a public place. But what’s legal might still be considered out of the norm, as you can see from this email that we got from Mary today.

At 5:15 p.m. last night, the 71L was packed with the usual mixed clientele of workers, tourists and street people. At Van Ness a woman with small baby in front carrying pack got on the bus. She was offered a couple of seats as she passed toward the back of the bus, but she said she would stand. She had a cover over the baby, but as she passed me I could see from the side she was breast feeding the baby.

About four stops later the bus driver, woman, stood up and asked that the woman with the baby come forward. She did. After the bus driver spoke to her, she turned around and said to everyone, “Hey there’s no pornography going on here so you can all relax,” as she made her way back through the bus to where she had been standing. As she spoke to the woman accompanying her, she said the driver said several passengers had complained about her showing her breasts.

Unbelievable. It took me back 40 years to when I was breast feeding my son in the reception area of UCSF Medical Center and a security guard came and asked me to go to the restroom to feed my son. Yes, I had a blanket over him and me and “nothing” was showing.

So the most natural and best of motherhood is still not acceptable on Muni in San Francisco.

And as all this played out, two very intoxicated men stood over me swearing and carrying on a very drunk conversation about sex with some tourist woman they had met.

And Muni wants me to pay $1 more a day for this ride!

– Mary Stream

Good for the driver to stand up for this mom. I’m surprised that passengers would have complained to the driver about the mother showing her breasts. If you’ve been a reader of this blog or if you’ve been on Muni at all, you’d know there are plenty of other things to complain about besides breastfeeding.

Photo by Flickr user Raphael Goetter


  • There was a woman breastfeeding on the 33 a few months back on a random Saturday evening. It took me a few minutes to notice, she was being so subtle, but I don’t think she was making any particular effort to cover up (nor should she have). No one else seemed to care (or notice). This country is weird sometimes.

  • Terry

    Hey those babies gotta eat and they’re NOT going to wait till they’re home – leave the b-feeding moms alone! Kudos to the Muni driver!!

  • Beth W

    Granted, it’s breaking the “no eating on Muni” rule, but if a baby’s hungry and not eating, it’s going to cry. I hope people recognize these are the two options, and can get past the whole OMG BOOBIES angle.

  • @Beth: LOL at the “no eating or drinking” regarding breastfeeding on Muni. I’m definitely for quiet baby rather than screaming baby. I’m also just remembering about our “public penis” muni story, where riders did not go up to the driver to complain about a man exposing himself. People have their priorities crooked.

  • jeep

    wow! in these days that should be kept behind close doors. . . . just look at prop.8, people cant accept stuff so fragial

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