A mother, Katie Watson, shared her recent nursing in public experience with the ladies on a private tandem breastfeeding support group Facebook. I felt it was important to share because what she dealt with happens to mothers across the globe every single day, the rude looks and uncalled for condescending words. It’s harassment of mothers and children, plain and simple.
Read her words below. Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, what happens next will make you believe in the goodness in humanity.
[This is a personal account written by Katie Watson. Shared with permission.]
Yesterday I took my two kids to a WIC appointment at the L&N building in downtown Louisville. While sitting in the crowded waiting room I nursed my tired one year old son. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a middle aged woman sitting across from me acting weird. She was holding up pieces of paper in front of both her and her adult son’s face, blocking their view of me. I heard them whispering and making loud noises of disgust and agitation. I simply ignored them and carried on nursing my little guy while watching my four year old play with toys on the floor with the other kids in the waiting room. After a couple minutes of nursing, my son decided he’d rather play with the other kids too so I sat him on the floor. The middle aged woman, who was there with her son and his pregnant wife, began chatting with me. She told me how cute she thought my baby was and asked his age. I politely smiled, thanked her, and told her that he was one year old. I pretended not to notice the raised eyebrow looks she immediately shared with her son and pregnant daughter in law.
Not long after, my son decided he was done playing and wanted to nurse again. So I lifted my top shirt and pulled down my undershirt and bra a little so my baby could latch on, like I always do to nurse. It’s easy for me, and I don’t have to expose any skin (not that there is anything wrong with exposing skin, I would just rather not for my own personal comfort.) Anyway, so I’m sitting there nursing my baby in the WIC office waiting room, minding my own business, and that’s when grandma-to-be makes the huge mistake of opening her mouth. “UMMM, EXCUSE ME, don’t you have a blanket to cover THAT up with? Or maybe you could go find another room to do THAT in.” I take a second to roll my eyes, shake my head, sigh, and silently mourn the end of my 4 year streak of nursing in public without any hassle. Calmly and confidently, I responded, “No. I am comfortable nursing right here and I am not going to cover up with a blanket. It’s my right to nurse any place I am otherwise allowed to be.” My son unlatched and I put him down to play with his big sister again. Gandma-to-be stirred in her seat. She stammered, “Well, well, but, but, my son is sitting right here (Daddy-to-be was covering his face with his hands) and HE CAN SEE YOU! You’re making him feel uncomfortable, so STOP IT! That’s gross! I just think you are being really rude and inconsiderate!!!” I tried not to laugh as I looked at all the breastfeeding support posters hanging up around the waiting room. “If anyone, including your son, is offended by breastfeeding they can LOOK AWAY or go some place else. You probably don’t realize it but, YOU. ARE. BREAKING. THE. LAW. right now by interfering and harassing me while I’m trying to nurse.” Two seconds later my 4 year old came up to me asking for “boob.” Usually I try to make her hold out until we get home, but I thought, “Ah fuck it”, and I held her in my lap so she could nurse. I didn’t have to look up to catch their reaction. I heard all three of them loudly gasp in horror, jump out of their chairs, and RUN to the furthest side of the room! I stayed and nursed my big girl under a sign that read “Breastfeeding is welcome here, please feel free to breastfeed where ever you feel comfortable.” Maybe those people couldn’t read…
The WIC officer manager ended up getting involved and spoke to the family in a private room. The door to the room had a window and I noticed Grandma-to-be peeking out at me, glaring menacingly. Our eyes locked for a few seconds through the glass and I gave her a huge smile while she made angry faces. (HAHA! I’m such an asshole!) They were still talking to the manager in the private room when I took my kids out in the hallway to find the potty. On our way back to the WIC office, after going potty, we ran into the family one last time. They were being kicked out as we were going in, so I held the door for them and smiled. They didn’t say a word as they passed by (probably because there was a security guard escorting them). Honestly though, I’m not mad at them. They were simply ignorant (and rude!) They caused a big scene and embarrassed themselves. Everyone who was in that waiting room knows the Kentucky State breastfeeding laws now!
The manager took me aside into the private room to talk. She apologized for the family’s behavior. She told me to tell a receptionist right away if anything like that ever happens again. She explained that they follow the law even if it makes some people uncomfortable. She let me know that they do have a private breastfeeding room, but that moms are welcome to breastfeed anywhere in the office. I was impressed with the way she handled the situation and I made sure she knew how much I appreciated her support.
All in all, I’m happy everything played out the way it did. I’m proud of myself for standing my ground! I’m a quiet, gentle person, but I will not take shit from anyone when it comes to my and my children’s rights. The mama bear in me is FEROCIOUS!
Amazing, right? High-five to Katie for standing up for her family and knowing her state laws. And how sweet is WIC’s “Shape the Future” breastfeeding support logo?
If you’d like to commend this mother, comment below. If you’d like to express your gratitude towards the WIC manager for standing up for what is right, contact the office directly:
908 W Broadway
Louisville, KY 40202
Phone: (855) 306-8959
Have you ever been given rude looks or been spoken to in an unacceptable manner for merely breastfeeding your child? How do you think you would have reacted to that abusive bully, on the spot in front of a waiting room full of other people?
Join the conversation on Facebook or comment below!
- Search my archives for recent nursing in public incidents
- Breastfeeding in the Military – Paa.la
- I Was Harassed for Nursing in Public (NIP) what do I do? - Best for Babes
- 50 Reasons for Breastfeeding Anytime, Anywhere – PhD in Parenting
- Breastfeeding Posters - Paa.la
- Every argument against NIP debunked – Paa.la
- Nursing with Discretion: What really matters - Paa.la
- The Pope Supports Breastfeeding in Public – Paa.la