American University Professor Causes a Stir After Breastfeeding in Class

Adrienne Pine breastfed her sick child while teaching. Was she in the wrong?

By: Melissa Romero

Breastfeeding in public always seems to make headlines one way or another. The most recent controversy making national news: American University professor Adrienne Pine’s recent decision to do so in class. 

The Washington Post reported yesterday about Pine’s decision to breastfeed her sick daughter while teaching a 75-minute class to a group of 40 students. Since bringing a fever-ridden baby to daycare was out of the question, Pine had decided that her students wouldn’t mind the baby—after all, it was an introductory class to sex and gender culture. 

According to the article, when the baby began to fuss midway through her lecture, Pine breastfed her until she quickly fell asleep. Just hours after the class, she was contacted by a news assistant at the college newspaper, The Eagle, to discuss her decision. 

So began the heated debate on whether Pine was out of line to breastfeed while teaching a class. The article states that American University officials have frowned upon her decision, while students interviewed said that breastfeeding doesn’t belong in the classroom. On the other hand, Pine's department colleagues have expressed their support for her, some claiming it’s not the first time they’ve heard of this situation arise in a classroom.

Adding to the fire is an essay Pine published on Counterpunch called “Exposéing My Breasts on the Internet,” in which she wrote about her experience, saying, “For me, breastfeeding has never been any sort of transcendental act. It stretches me, hurts and traps me to my body—which regularly rewards me for the sacrifice with searingly painful mastitis. Breastfeeding is not a sacred or delicate feat. It has just been the easiest way (for me) to make sure the baby gets fed.” 

What do you think? Do you agree with Pine’s decision, or do you think it was, as some have called it, “unprofessional”? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.