posted in Parenting
I don’t get it. I can’t comprehend how this is still happening — how people continue to have the audacity to shame or flat-out bully breastfeeding mothers. And yet, here we are again.
Earlier this week, Ruha Alford Tracey was getting ready to work out for the first time at a SportsFit gym. Unfortunately, her infant daughter was having a rough time when she tried leaving her at the childcare room. The Alabama mom decided to breastfed her to see if that would make her feel more comfortable. Nope. It was full-on separation anxiety at its finest. Because her daughter became so upset each time she attempted to leave, Tracey gave up and left the gym with her little girl. She returned later that morning to try again. Here’s what this mama wrote about what allegedly happened next:
“When I badged into the front door, the very friendly guy at the front desk said, ‘Hey, can I talk to you about something really quick? In terms of feeding your child, when you need to do that, could you just use the restroom?’
The restroom? I asked. I have absolutely never been asked to do that, I said.
“Well, we’re a family friendly facility, you see, and yesterday while you were feeding her a man walked by the window.”
I told him a man shouldn’t feel shame when he sees a woman breastfeeding. And especially if you’re family friendly, you should be super-pro breastfeeding!
He said, ‘I’m not telling you not to breastfeed, I just think a little discretion is in order.”‘
This rightfully frustrated mom ended up canceling her membership right then and there. Then, she shared the ridiculous exchange on Facebook and ultimately took part in a nurse-in at the gym two days later.
As little public service announcement to those who aren’t sure if they’ve ever violated the rights of a nursing mom — or made her like complete garbage for no reason — I give to you 7 sure-fire ways to shame a breastfeeding mother. (Spoiler alert: This gym worker nearly nailed them all!)
1) Tell her to cover up. Covers are meant to make mothers more comfortable, if they want them. They’re not for you. If she’s not using one, it’s probably because a) she doesn’t want to, b) her baby refuses to be nursed under one, or c) it’s none of your business why, and look away if you have to.
2) Ask her to relocate to a more “discreet” spot. No. In all but one state in the U.S., moms are protected by law to nurse wherever they are legally allowed to be. If you don’t like it, then you can leave.
3) “But what about the children?!” Explain that a mom is feeding her baby milk from her breasts. It’s not that difficult. I promise they won’t be scarred for life.
4) “But she will surely arouse and seduce all of the married men.” If your husband is aroused by watching a baby eat, you’ve got far worse issues, my friend.
5) “Just do it in the bathroom! Yes, breastfeeding is ‘natural’ — but so is peeing. And you don’t see anyone urinating in stores/restaurants, do you?” Comparing the act of feeding a child to urination is asinine. Grasp the concept of “in” vs. “out.” Also, do you eat your food in the bathroom? Didn’t think so.
6) “Don’t do that here. This is a family-friendly place.” Newsflash: Moms and babies are kind of a crucial component to the whole family thing. If you’re harassing a mother for FEEDING her child, you do not get to hide behind the delusion of being family-friendly.
7) Use phrases like, “I support breastfeeding, but …” Fill in the blank. But there’s no reason you can’t be discreet. But you should really use a cover. But you shouldn’t do that in public. But breastfeeding after age 1 is weird. Sorry to break it to you, but this isn’t supporting breastfeeding.
Strangers are free to have all of the opinions in the world about what breastfeeding moms should and shouldn’t be doing. But the comfort and legal rights of a mother and her nursing child will always trump these opinions. So shut up and keep moving, folks. Because parenting is hard enough as it is.
What do you think of my list?
Images by iStock; featured photo by Thinkstock