I cringe whenever I read these stories about moms who are innocently breastfeeding somewhere in public—and are asked to take their boobies and babies elsewhere. In the latest made-the-news instance, a mother was nursing her 9-month-old in the locker room of an LA Fitness and told by a club employee she wasn't allowed to breastfeed there. Which is especially weird. It's a locker room, for crying out loud, where actual nudity abounds!
I remember being asked to move, just once, when I was breastfeeding in a lounge area right outside a department-store restroom. I had felt awkward enough as a new mom wheeling my Snap-N-Go around trying to find a semi-private spot to nurse my crying baby. I found a chair, threw a baby blanket over myself, and my grateful, hungry infant calmed. That's when a crisp woman in a stuffy suit appeared before me and told me there was a bathroom with a private lounge in the department store that bookended the other end of the mall. If she'd been nice about it, I'd have felt grateful—it was useful information to know, at least—but as she continued to stand there, unsmiling, it was clear I was being scolded and was expected to leave, which I did. I wouldn't have minded just finishing up our feeding instead of getting myself and my baby together to walk to another lounge clear across the mall.
This was years ago, before people did things like post their outrage on the Internet and hold nurse-ins as a show of solidarity and support, like the one that ensued at LA Fitness. If my nurseshaming experience happened to me today, now that I'm a more experienced mom and have already been through that humiliation once, I wonder if I'd still move. I hope my reaction would be more of a whatever eyeroll and to sit tight—at least that's what I think I'd do now. But it's not easy in the moment when a bully comes along and you're tired and just trying to feed your baby, so I feel for that mom in LA Fitness. It's especially rude if the company indeed, as the mom said, never apologized.
Have you ever incurred comments or raised eyebrows for breastfeeding in public? And what's the most unusual public location you've nursed a baby? Personally, I have to go with that time on a crowded subway. (The baby was desperate!) The guy next to me did give me a couple of downcast glances, but I had a thought that could apply to anyone who now, in 2014, would wither at the sight of a breastfeeding woman: Surely you've borne witness to more unusual sights than breastfeeding?
And if you haven't, you need to get out more.