Breastfeed in the Bathroom

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.Breastfeed in the Bathroom (Cloth Diaper Addicts)

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?


About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.

Comments

  1. Sarah McKelvy says:

    When my daughter was first born, I was somewhat ashamed to breastfeed her in public, so I would try to hide somewhere to feed her. Often, that would be the bathroom. My thinking changed when I realized that 1)Breastfeeding is NATURAL and 2)I was alienating myself from other moms at times. Thankfully, I was blessed to receive no negative comments about NIP.

  2. I don’t know why people seem to think that a bathroom is a natural place to breastfeed. I didn’t breastfeed for long, but the last place that I wanted to do it was in a bathroom – YUCK!

  3. I would never feed my baby in the bathroom. I would have stayed seated and made them call the cops to escort me out of the building for feeding my child.

  4. wow.. that is brutal. I would nurse in the bathroom. Such injustice and my blood is boiling.

  5. wow.. I would never nurse in the bathroom.. NEVER. My blood is boiling already imagining the picture you are painting here.

  6. Lauren S. says:

    Ugh! When I first started nursing my son, I breastfed in a public restroom twice. It took me a couple of months to feel comfortable (and capable) nursing in public. I will never forget how gross it was to be nursing him in a stall. I had to keep my eyes closed b/c public bathrooms skeeve me out…

  7. I hate how nursing is considered offensive to many still. I hate it 🙁

  8. I get so irritated with all the negativity towards breastfeeding. No one says to feed that bottle fed baby in a bathroom. How is breastfeeding any diffferent? It isn’t!

  9. The Bathroom?? Gross! I never breastfed, but that is because I was going back to full time work 2 towns away, so bottle was easier.

  10. Thomas Chappell says:

    It is ridiculous how breast feeding is viewed! We were at a toys store (with a baby section) around here and there was a lady walking with a baby breast feeding slightly covered, I pointed it out to my wife, the reason I pointed it out was I couldn’t believe how skillful that was. She was shopping the whole time.

  11. Katherine Gilbert says:

    I don’t see a problem with nursing in public. When I nursed my son I used a blanket to cover up because i didn’t want everyone looking at me. I know i wouldn’t eat in the bathroom so I wouldn’t expect my child to do the same.

  12. That is so frustrating. When I was nursing our middle child I even had family members ask me to nurse in the bathroom – like it’s embarrassing to be next to a mom nursing in public! Go somewhere else then! It’s such a dirty place, and there is nothing wrong with nursing wherever you are!

  13. This. Rocks. I have not dealt with this particular situation, but someone at a neighboring table did call the police because I was nursing my daughter in a restaurant (with a cover, no less). UGH. I’m all fired up, now!

  14. I think it’s crazy that it required a nurse in for the powers that be to actually look into what is legal and what is not. Why is feeding your baby such a taboo thing to do? And in a childs play area, really?!?

  15. This whole situation still infuriates me – I was in the mall just a couple of days ago and there are signs posted that still dodge the issue that the ban was *illegal* to begin with. I think it’s pretty clear that someone in the mall’s management team has a person issue with public breastfeeding… to which I would say “that is your issue/problem, not the concern of the mother feeding her hungry child.”

    • It’s a pseudoapology. I’m pretty sure they never apologized to Tara, either, beyond the generic “We’re sorry if we offended you” non-apology.

  16. I myself am all for bf anywhere i doubt mothers are being disrespectful about it i mean honestly your feeding your child the most natural way possible!!!

Trackbacks

  1. […] couple of weeks ago, there was a huge breastfeeding issue with Pine Centre Mall, the mall in Prince George, BC.  They told a breastfeeding mother that she […]

  2. […] helped with organizing a nurse-in when a breastfeeding mom faced illegal discrimination in our local mall.  I’ve had friends sit on my couch and breastfeed their […]

  3. […] get pretty choked when someone suggests that a nursing mother should breastfeed in the bathroom.  Not going to happen.  It’s gross.  There’s poo molecules flying around, etc.  […]

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