Over the weekend, I attended a nurse-in at Pine Centre Mall in Prince George. It was a nurse-in that didn’t have to happen… had it not been for an employee making it necessary for the moms of Prince George to ban together to protect our rights. It started with a security guard telling a breastfeeding mom that she couldn’t nurse in the play area, even though she was watching her toddler and the rules (along with common sense) say not to leave your child unattended. It could have been avoided had the manager that the mom escalated to not backed the security guard. And then it could have been de-escalated immediately had the mall’s social media person not mentioned the “option” to breastfeed in the bathroom.
In fact, this was what Pine Centre Mall’s social media person had to say on a wall post about how even asking the breastfeeding mom to move (let alone to breastfeed in the bathroom) is illegal under British Columbia’s Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:
Thank you for taking the time to voice your concerns regarding breast feeding in the play area. It is a delicate subject and should be approached with thoughtful consideration. Those using the play area are asked to sign-in acknowledging the rules and regulations. Food or drink should not be consumed in the area, due to potential spillage where closure of the area may be required for cleaning. The centre does offer seating directly beside the area and there are numerous other seating areas throughout the centre. The family washroom near the food court has a bench inside for those wishing privacy. The centre is in the process of renovating the washrooms near Customer Service with additional seating in the family washrooms. Your patience with these improvements is appreciated.
Yeah. Because breast milk can totally shoot from the lactating mother’s breasts and spray paint the play area.
I can think of a lot of ways that the social media person could have handled this better. Tons of them. That being said, I cannot possibly think of any way that this could have been handled worse.
Why Not Breastfeed in the Bathroom?
Let’s think about what happens in a bathroom. It’s a place designated for waste elimination. People are encouraged to put the toilet lids down on their toilets at home before flushing in order to prevent the aerosolization of fecal matter, then wash their hands before leaving. Even the cleanest washroom is still that: a place intended for waste elimination. It’s not intended for meals. Really, that’s why there’s a saying that Tony Soprano used once: You don’t **** where you eat.
Let’s consider all of that. With those things in mind, why on earth would anyone think that it’s a good idea for a baby who is developing an immune system to eat where people defecate? Are any of the people who think it’s a great idea to breastfeed in the bathroom eating their own meals there?
Feeding Babies is Offensive
I get that not everyone feels comfortable around breastfeeding moms. But, really, no one should have to stop feeding her child the way she sees fit on anyone else’s account. It’s awfully arrogant to think that one’s own personal comfort trumps someone else’s need to eat. At the end of the day, it’s a parenting decision that each and every parent needs to make for themselves. Anyone who finds feeding babies offensive should realize that they can look in other directions… or hide their own heads under a blanket.
We Feed Babies – Get Used to It
The good news is that before the mall even opened, someone must have consulted the legal department and found what a cluster-you-know-what was happening because someone made a bad and illegal judgment call. Pine Centre Mall issued a public statement stating that feeding in the play area was just fine.
Have you ever had to counter the suggestion that one should breastfeed in the bathroom? How did you go about it?