I walked past a woman in a restaurant the other day who was breastfeeding her baby. At one point our eyes met and I tried to give her that “I’ve been there, and you are beautiful” smile that I'm working on.
I’m so glad she was sitting at a table, in public, eating a burger and chatting with a friend and not sitting here:
Women who are breastfeeding in public need support, not shame. And they absolutely don’t need to be told that they should go feed their baby in a bathroom—a suggestion that I find so disgusting I just couldn’t believe a person would actually say that to a nursing mother until I read it for myself in the comment section of my blog.
Read more: 10 tips for breastfeeding in public >
Who could possibly think that feeding a baby and relieving oneself should be done in the same place?
A group of students in Texas created the When Nurture Calls campaign to promote a new law that would ban the harassment of nursing women, because in Texas it's still acceptable to refuse service to a breastfeeding mother.
The copy on the ad reads: “Would you eat here? By law, breastfeeding mothers are not protected from harassment and refusal of service in public, often forcing them to feed in secluded spaces such as public bathrooms. To help take a stand, visit whennurturecalls.com, because a baby should never be nurtured where nature calls.”
Luckily, in Canada it's illegal to refuse service or harass nursing mothers. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Some people are ignorant enough to tell moms to go feed their baby while sitting on the toilet. Because who wouldn’t want to eat with all those germs for company?
The “graphic” nature of these ads have created some controversy. Some people said it promoted teen pregnancy and public nudity. The youngest mother in the ad campaign is 21 and has said she's frequently encountered harassment and sexual comments while breastfeeding. The Facebook comments alone show you how emotional and ridiculous people can get when discussing this issue.
I breastfed my babies everywhere I went, without a cover. I never encountered a negative comment anywhere, including fine-dining restaurants and stores. In fact, I don’t think most people notice.
But if you do notice, try and give the woman an encouraging nod or smile. She may be a little nervous about the public reaction and very likely could use some support.
Emma Waverman is a writer, blogger and mom to three kids. She has many opinions, some of them are fit to print. Read more of her articles here and follow her on Twitter @emmawaverman.