Through the years, I’ve read things on Facebook about my friends attending nurse-ins because a local to them place decided to tell a nursing mother to cover up or to leave. It was important for those lactivist friends to educate and use their superior numbers to let the business in question know that these women would be standing up for their breastfeeding rights.
I’ve never breastfed. I tried with Eudora, but… well, let’s just say it didn’t go well. I also spent some time exclusively pumping for Norton with my super snazzy Medela Freestyle. I’m perfectly supportive of breastfeeding and breastfeeding rights… as long as it’s not my breasts doing the feeding. Besides, I live in Canada. Pushing for education and changing policy to reflect the breastfeeding rights of the nursing mother is an American problem, right? These things don’t happen in Canada… and especially not in British Columbia. Right?
On Friday, Tara, a local mom, was booted from the play area at Pine Centre Mall. She was watching her two and a half year old play while breastfeeding the baby. It’s calm, quiet, and discrete when Tara does it, so it’s not like there’s “boob everywhere” or whatever. The rules of the play area said explicitly not to leave a child unattended… but Tara was told to either sit on the bench outside of the play area (which has its back to the play area, leaving her child unsupervised) or to go sit in a chair at the ice cream stand about fifteen feet away.
Tara told the security guard that it was her legal right to breastfeed and asked for a manager. The manager backed the security guard “out of fear of spills.” The rules said no food or drink, and someone in their infinite wisdom thought that should include breastfeeding.
Tara was not willing to sit back and allow her breastfeeding rights (which are protected federally under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and provincially under the BC Human Rights Code), so she went to Facebook and crossposted in darn near every single parenting group in town.
I have a question as anyone been told they can not breastfeed or formula feed there baby? In play area out at pine center mall? I was told can not breastfeed in play area. I then decided to talk to admin. I ask why I can not breastfeed in play area. If moms that formula feed can. Was told breastfeed/formula feeding can not because it is a custom carpet and breastfeeding and bottles will drop to much milk on the floor. I then said could there be a bench put right in front of opening, I have a 2 in a half year old girl also. Was told that breastfeeding/formula feed babies could be feed at dummer boy or bench facing way from. Play area they will not be adding a bench in front of play area. So I have decided I will only shop at target, sears, and shoppers. Since they want me to put my oldest daughter not safe. Will not leave my two in a half unsupervised. Besides I think pee accidents will make bigger mess then a little bit of milk from breastfeeding/formula feed.
That lit a fire under the ladies of Prince George. We started talking about a nurse-in, so I went ahead and just set up the event on Facebook.
It only got worse as Pine Centre Mall started digging themselves a bigger hole defending the employee’s actions.
We ended up holding a nurse-in (well, a feed-in, as bottlefeeding parents were also encouraged to show up). It went well. In the end, someone at Pine Centre Mall must have made a quick call to their legal department and found that their actions were, in fact, illegal. Our breastfeeding rights were recognized and the success was shared with bottle feeding moms.
This is one of those wonderful, rare occasions where in defending breastfeeding rights, formula (or bottle) feeding parents were also protected. It became an event that unified us instead of an event that contributed to the Mommy Wars.
Have you ever stood up for breastfeeding rights? How did it go?