Roxanne Roberts's diatribe about breast-feeding in public ["Do Me a Favor, Keep a Lid on Your Double Latte," Style, Aug. 11] might lead a reader to believe that exhibitionist nursing mothers regularly descend on Starbucks in hordes, breasts bared defiantly while babies suckle noisily.

Breast-feeding, while "natural," hardly compares to "scratching in inappropriate places," "clipping toenails," "passing gas" or "picking one's nose," as Roberts complains. She seems to imply that nursing mothers breast-feed because, well, they like to show their breasts to strangers and because they want to make others uncomfortable.

Breast-feeding is convenient, free, good for babies and easy to do once you become adept at it. It is indeed possible to breast-feed an infant without anyone but the nosiest observer (or veteran nursing mother) knowing about it. As for nursing in the restroom -- half the time I don't even want to use a public restroom for its intended purposes. Does Roberts truly believe that is a reasonable alternative?

There's already enough hostility toward breast-feeding and a woeful lack of support for new mothers in general. If Roberts has truly "been there, done that," surely she remembers the thrill of finally getting out of the house and doing something "grown-up" after the baby arrives. Is it really infringing so heavily on the public's "rights" for an exhausted mother to sit quietly in Starbucks for an hour, reading the paper and nursing her infant? Give me -- and nursing mothers -- a break.

-- Helen Zubaly

Falls Church

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I would love to ask Roxanne Roberts which Starbucks has nursing mothers prancing about topless like Josephine Baker. On the other hand, perhaps the company would prefer she keep that information to herself. For my own part, I have never seen a nursing mother exposing more flesh than the typical 25-year-old fashionista in August. Clearly I am not looking as hard or as closely as Roberts.

The author bases her indignation on the fact that nursing in public makes some people "uncomfortable." Well, people are made uncomfortable by many things. Many people are, unfortunately, made uncomfortable by same-sex couples. Do they have to go drink their coffee in the bathroom, too?

As for Roberts's comparison of feeding babies to nose-picking or passing gas, one can only respond by expressing sympathy to her present or future children.

-- Catherine McCubbin

Baltimore

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Regarding the article about the nursing mother being asked to cover up while breast-feeding at Starbucks [Metro, Aug. 9]:

One mother said, "The breast is doing what it's designed to do." But many things that a body is designed to do are not done in public. A natural bodily function does not mean that it is an appropriate public function.

I could understand the mother's objection if she had been asked to leave because of her breast-feeding. But the employee just asked her to cover up. Other adults and children were present, and I am sure that the manager was only asking her to appear in an appropriate manner in front of them.

-- Kevin Shackelford

Silver Spring

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In your Aug. 11 editorial "Milking the Issue," I was described as having "scolded women for nursing their babies in open view."

That is incorrect.

In fact, I enjoyed breast-feeding my child tremendously because of the special mother-child bonding experience, and because I was a source of "food on the go." However, modesty and dignity are important qualities, as are respect for the child and his or her special moments with mommy, and respect for others. I always gently tented my son with a lightweight cloth to accomplish all of the above.

-- Laura C. Schlessinger

Sherman Oaks, Calif.