Don’t breastfeed in my store! (Are you kidding me!?!)

Stop feeding your child in our store or we’ll have to call security…That is what one woman was told when she was shopping at the Dixie Outlet Mall the other day when she decided to breastfeed her one month old child. When the mother explained to the clerk that she can’t force her to leave for feeding her child, security was called to have her removed. Luckily, the security guard knew the law and explained to the clerk that she can’t be forced to stop feeding her child. According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, “No one should prevent you from nursing your child simply because you are in a public area. They should not ask you to ‘cover up,’ disturb you, or ask you to move to another area that is more ‘discreet.’” I couldn’t even imagine what I would’ve done if this clerk came to me and said the same thing. I do know that like the mother this happened to, I would expect a written apology and not just from the store in question but also from the clerk. You would expect that the store will now retrain their employees on what a customer’s rights are as human beings.

So now I ask, why are people so against breastfeeding? It is proven to be the healthiest option for your child. I can understand people being uncomfortable if someone were to be walking around topless but that is not the case when feeding your child. Even when a woman is not covered up, the breast is mostly covered by the child when eating; that it is almost like the mother is wearing a low cut top, since most of what you see is the top of the breast. I admit that when out in public, I do use a blanket to cover myself but not because I think it is wrong to breastfeed in public. It is to keep my baby from being distracted by all the noise and people while eating and to keep me from being bothered by the few people who think what I am doing is unacceptable.

I have been told that I should feed my child in the bathroom (like we would eat our lunch in there…gross!) and one woman told me she didn’t want me to feed in front of her child (even though I was completely covered and no one could see what I was doing). Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed our children. There was once a time that it was the only way to feed them. I hope that anyone who reads this post today understands that when we breastfeed in public, it is because our child is hungry and not because we are perverts who are trying to be indecent. Most malls now have breastfeeding rooms which are comfortable and inviting but they are not always in convenient places. I have been at the other end of the mall when my baby started to cry because he was hungry and that is harder to listen to than someone not wanting me to feed in front of them. I am not about to walk all the way to the other end with a screaming baby. I am going to stop and feed because the needs of my family will ALWAYS come first.

Have you ever been chastised for feeding in public? What did you say to the person with the problem?

  • Christine

    I didn’t even realize that the law states that they shouldn’t even ask you to cover up or move to a more discreet area, that’s good to know in case I ever witness a woman being told to cover up or leave.  I have fed my baby in public before, usually only at a restaurant while waiting for food and I have never had any problems, although I’m pretty sure people normally don’t even notice.  I do understand it is a woman’s right, however, I personally try to be as discreet as possible to be considerate of others who may not be comfortable seeing a woman nursing.  I also don’t think people are necessarily against breastfeeding as a whole, but more likely just uncomfortable seeing it done in public.  It’s really quite sad actually, since I think the main reason for this is that people are not comfortable with their own bodies to start with.

  • Katy

    It actually offends me when I see someone feeding their baby formula. It’s mostly sugar and has been created in a lab. I’m also offended when I see parents feeding their children fast food and allowing them to drink pop. That is offensive to me. Breastfeeding is easiest, most beautiful and beneficial way to nurture your babies and to provide them with the healthiest start in life.

    • Gnorlia

      I think it is very unfair of you to be offended by formula.  Some women do not have the option to breasfeed and therefore, formula is their choice.  If you don’t want people to judge you for your choice to breastfeed then why is it okay for you to judge people on their choice not to?

    • Christine

      Unfortunately some women are unable to breastfeed for medical reasons, making formula their only option, also breastmilk definitely has sugar too.  I wish moms had more support to help them start nursing, it can be extremely difficult when your baby starts to lose weight and everyone is so concerned about their weight in the first few weeks.  And when a mother is already so tired and worn out, the last thing they want is to feel like they are starving their baby.  Sometimes, I think moms feel that formula is the best way, because they don’t have enough support to help them continue trying to nurse.  If it wasn’t for the support of my husband in the wee hours of the morning the first few weeks after the birth of my first child, she might have ended up on formula too.  I’m so glad I’ve been able to nurse both of my children as I also believe it is the best way.

      • Pejy

        I WISH I had been able to breastfeed my daughter, it wasn’t possible and I resorted to formula after three harrowing weeks of failure to thrive and hospital visits.  I applaud that mother for standing her ground and feeding her child, if you don’t like it, turn away!  Baby always gets priority.

    • Angela

      Hi Katy, There are a lot of women who can’t breastfeed so they need to go to formula.  I would hope you will try to have understanding for them as we are trying to get understanding for us. 

  • Bre

    I was pretty discreet when I was nursing my children. We even have a joke in our family because my younger brother (who was 19 when my daughter was born) once didn’t realize that I was nursing and came up and kissed my daughter on the head before he was leaving to go somewhere. There was a huge silence and then everyone in the room burst out laughing and he was pretty embarrassed… I can’t even imagine someone telling me to leave where I was nursing and I nursed EVERYWHERE!! Church, food courts, stores while shopping, restaurants… If your baby is hungry you feed them… END of story.

  • Les Botchar

     hmmm…not sure how this became a bottle vs. breast discussion? 
    Oh yes…..we were basically talking about people minding their own business and keeping their opinions to themselves.   especially if their sensibilities are so easily and mightily offended.

    As you can probably tell, I would have told the person to bug off in no uncertain terms.   I have a right to feed my child in whatever manner I choose.   I have the right to do so without judgement from others.   It really is as simple as that…. don’t make it more complicated.

    • Angela

      I agree.  When I wrote this I didn’t think it would turn into a breast vs bottle post.  Just to be clear, I have no issues with how anyone chooses to feed their children.  I just want people to stop trying to make us moms who choose to breastfeed uncomfortable with our choice because they are uncomfortable with it.

  • C Beata

    I do agree that if your baby needs to eat , they need to eat now! people need to be more understanding . Although I am all for breastfeeding , I do agree that we as women should use a cover when doing it in public. It creates a warm environment for baby , and you don’t get the creepy on looker who just keeps staring. People please if you notice someone breastfeeding their baby in public , please don’t stare . It just creates a very uncomfortable feeling.
    I always went to those nursing rooms, but definately agree their not always in the most convenient places.

    And those who say formula feeding is like fast food. Be mindful that there are women who can not breastfeed for whatever reason and formula may not be their first choice … don’t be so judgmental.

    • Sandy_yabko

      I remember clearly being stuck with my hungry baby, far away from the ‘breastfeeding areas’. Fortunately, I pumped a lot so always made sure I had a bottle full before leaving the house just in case. It would be nice if breastfeeding was more widely accepted in public.

  • Rebecca Moore

    I think it is a good idea that employers tell them employees this law so that this mistake isn’t made again. People who have issues with this obviously have never been breastfeeding moms.

  • Brienne Gibson

    Great post, and no, I have never been chastised for breastfeeding in public, but if I had….. ohhhhh, they would get an earful from me!!

    • Angela

      I feel the same:)

  • Joelle

    I have also been judged for breastfeeding in a public area. I was completely covered and for all they knew, my baby was simply sleeping. It did not stop the whispered comments (“Is this legal?”, “That is so not appropriate”) and I almost felt like I was being bullied. People need to quit judging others and look a themselvesThank you Angela for writing this blog, I really needed this. 

    • Angela

      I’m glad this was helpful to you.  I felt it was an important issue and I hope it helps others.

  • Chelsea

    I think that breastfeeding is the most amazing thing you can do for your child. I did with both of my children and if I ever have another I will do it again. I understand everyone makes their own choices but don’t criticize me because I choose to feed my child the most healthy option that I can. I will NOT take my child into the bathroom to feed them because you’re right, who eats their lunch in there. People need to grow up, it’s a fact of life those breasts were made to feed babies not to sit there and look pretty.

  • jlsgbs

    I have been chastised in public for BFing before… I was told to ‘get that out of here’. There was a woman around the same age as me with her thong hanging out of the back of her low riding jeans and her bra hanging out the top of her low cut belly shirt sitting across from me and she stood up and said “Are you serious?! You tell a mom feeding her baby to leave, but you told me you like my shirt. You can see more of my tits hanging out just with me sitting here than you can of hers while she’s feeding her baby. YOU need to get out of here!!!”

    I was amazed and it was really awesome to have someone who was a visual of the ‘opposite side’ of the usual ‘if you find THIS unacceptable but don’t find THAT unacceptable’ argument standing up for the other side.

    The person who told me I had to ‘get that out of here’ stomped off and asked for the manager. The manager shrugged and told them if they were offended by human rights perhaps Canada was the wrong place for them to be living LOL

    • Angela

      So glad to hear another person stood up for you!

  • Pipes2b

    This is all a new world for me since the birth of my first child in Dec.  I have been aware that breastfeeding in front of people does not bother me but I have asked if the other person was alright by it. (mind you this is usually in their home or mine).  But now I ask myself why should it be offensive and no matter what my child needs to eat.

  • andrews_cheryl

    I go to Dixie Outlet Mall all the time and I only wish I would have witnessed this happen.  I can’t believe the ignorance of some people.  It’s a mom feeding her baby.  Some people can’t get past the whole “breasts are sexual” thing. She was a mom feeding her child. I also read about this in the Toronto Star and I know what store she was in and I won’t shop there anymore…not that I did in the first place but I will definitely not shop there now!

  • Jennifer

    I can’t believe people have such big issues with breastfeeding, if your baby needs to eat the by all means if you can go ahead and feed them. Telling a Mommy to feed her child in the bathroom is just wrong and disgusting! I have never been chasitsed for feeding in public because I was never able too. My boy was born 10 weeks premature and by the time he came home for the NICU I had ran out of milk… 

  • Kara

     I have heard so many discussions about breast feeding in public lately… in my opinion hungry babies should be fed… whether it is breast feeding or bottle feeding, covered or uncovered. At the end of the day people should understand that our babies need to eat! We are not trying to offend anyone and if I happen to be in a mall and forget my cover (I use my cover because I am more comfortable covered NOT for the comfort of others) I will feed my baby uncovered *Gasp*! People need to stop associating breast feeding with something sexual, and if they can’t then that is their problem. They can leave the area because I will not be going anywhere.

  • Shawna

    I have breastfed both of my children (and am still breastfeeding my second). There is nothing wrong with breastfeeding and you definitely shouldn’t be looked down on for doing it. I have never been asked to stop and wouldn’t even if I was. I cover up when I feed for two reasons: one being that my baby gets distracted and two because personally I don’t like exposing myself to everyone around. I am all for breastfeeding (obviously) however, I don’t see the need to sit in the front of a crowded room and expose yourself to the entire room. I was at a library time with my children once and a women at the very front of the room decided to feed her child, pulls out her breast and tries to feed her baby, who didn’t want to eat and kept pulling away. I wasn’t impressed with that being done in front of all women, men and children in the room. Now that may be because I don’t like the thought of exposing yourself infront of people. But there is a tactful way to breastfeed and that was not it, at least don’t be sitting in the very front of the room facing everyone when you do it.

  • Cathy

    Before having my child I have to admit I was one of those people who felt uncomfortable seeing someone breastfeed their child in public.  I was uncomfortable because I was ignorant.  Breastfeeding my son is a special time between him and I.  It’s a special bond we have.  I feel lucky to be able to provide him with such nutrition.


  • liz

    Offended by formula??  I’m offended that you can’t mind your own business! 

  • Ashley

    I think more women need to breastfeed in public.  When my second son was born my first son was 7 and he had never seen a woman breastfeed before.  It was something I forgot to educate him about because I had just assumed that he knew that was how babies are fed.  If more women breastfed in public then children would know that it is normal and natural and learn not to be offended.  The problem is that soo many mothers have covered up that it has caused women to think that they can’t feed in public if they can’t be covered. 

    Even though I say all this I have never breast fed in public.  My baby is 6 months old and I bring breast milk that I have pumped if I am going out.  I wish I knew why I feel odd feeding in public but I just feel weird doing it.  I think if every woman with a baby was nursing them in public then I would feel more comfortable doing it too.

  • Jen13

    I breastfed whenever and wherever my babies needed it. At home I was definately not discreet and if that bothered someone, they looked away. When at someone else’s home, I would ask if they were ok with me feeding in front of them. I was never told off for feeding in public but there were always looks. I think my husband was more embarrassed. He would say do you want a blanket? And sometimes if I felt I was too out in the open I would accept it but mostly I didn’t cover up.

  • Nancy T

    I never experienced any negativity towards breastfeeding in public thankfully!  I’m sure I would have tried to educate people on the subject which could turn into a heated debate.  
    I’ve noticed a trend and mostly it’s from the current 18-25 set that breastfeeding is something you don’t do in public.  Really sad considering all the benefits of breastfeeding for both baby & mother.
    It’s wonderful to have your own opinion on any given subject however you still need to respect the other person’s right to their opinion.

  • Stephmoore66

    It really bothers me to hear stories like this.. I personally have never been addressed in this way while breastfeeding, but many of my friends have told me stories.. I think it’s interesting how some people will comment to a Mom about breastfeeding in public (which is healthy) but take no action when they experience other things, like walking through the crowd of smokers right outside the doors of the mall….

  • Lleblanc

    I am pregnant and due in May.  I plan to breastfeed, and hopefully I’ll be able to.  I don’t judge anyone for breastfeeding, or formula feeding.  It’s personal choice.  Actually sometimes it’s not even choice, as some people aren’t able to breastfeed.  I don’t play to put myself on display while doing so, but I certainly don’t think I should have to hide it either.  I just think I would be mindful that not everyone is comfortable with seeing it, so I would try to be somewhat discreet.  I plan to pump as well, so that my husband can feed the baby, and maybe when I’m out in public, I’ll bottle feed with pumped breast milk.  Either way my opinion is, no one should judge another mother for their choice of feeding, and no mother should feel like they have to hide it.

  • Colleen

    I had no problem with breast feeding in public and not sure what I would have done had someone said I couldn’t. I do know I would not just have walked away and taken it. I can’ tbelieve the ignorance of some people.

  • anonymous

    I can’t believe this happened in Canada.  I’ve heard of it happening in the U.S. at Target, but here?  Also, I think you should tell us which store in the mall it was!

    • Angela

      I have chosen to not mention the store as they may not have any responsibility to what happened and they have apologized to the mother.  Please feel free to search for this story in the Toronto Star site if you would like to know which store it was.

  • Nadia Breese

    I’ve never had anyone say anything directly to me, I’ve had ‘looks’ and I could swear I’ve heard ‘that’s disgusting’ said under someone’s breath but never had anyone say something directly. It saddens me that people still don’t see breastfeeding as natural and normal. I’d be curious to hear about the outcome of this story.

  • Bgenier

    This is insane! I don’t breastfeed but I complete support any mother who can! It is a natural thing why do people make comments about breastfeeding in public when there are bigger fishes to fry!?

  • Joann

    Wow … the nerve of some people!  Thankfully, I have never had problems while breastfeeding in public.  If I were asked to stop or move, I would keep it non confrontational.  I would simply point out that it is mine and the baby’s right.  Having said that, I do not make a big show of feeding in public … I try to be as discreet as possible beacause I want to be considerate of the people that may not be comfortable seeing a woman nursing.

  • Carri

    I guess I have been lucky to never have anyone comment when I have BF my son in public… I’m somewhat tempted to head down to that mall with a hungry baby. (ha!)

  • Pintostephanie

    There is nothing wrong with bf’ing your children in public as long as u cover up. There are people who r uncomfortable with the idea of seen a breast. The clerk should be more understanding that what she was doing was natural. When I bf my baby I chose to go to the nursing rooms in the mall so that I didn’t have to feel with the staring people. I also enjoyed the company of other moms in the room

  • Shannon D

    I can’t believe something like this would happen in this day and age with all the hype about “breast is best”!
    I’ve never been chastised for feeding in public but I definitely know how I would react if I was!!!
    Whether breastfed or bottlefed, mothers should be allowed to choose where they can feed their babies.

  • Sim

    I also heard this on the radio, I was shocked! I’m going to be mom soon and plan to breastfeed. I just can imagine if someone ask me to leave beacuse I’m feeding my baby?????? I would go insane!

  • Lesia

    SO sad!! These people mustn’t have been mothers!! I think that if you are covered you should be able to feed anywhere!!

  • Jessica

    this is shocking!  breastfeeding is not obscene!

  • Angela L.

    I’ve never been chastised because i do it as rarely as I can! I feel uncomfortable because I know the attitudes people have about it. And it makes me angry. And I wish I could just do it! Of course I have found quiet benches in malls and squeezed into booths in restaurants when i needed to and i’m ashamed to say i actually fed her in the washroom once and vowed never to do that again. I really wish people would get over it and if that’s not possible, establishments should have breastfeeding rooms. There’s one at the mall here but it’s also a changing room and it always stinks!

  • Sabrina

    Wow, can’t believe that in this day and age they would ask the mom to stop breastfeeding:(  I have breastfed both my girls for as long as they wanted and yet, I am the shy kind who was embarrased at first but by the time my 2nd one came along, I learnt to be very discreet.

  • Tracy

    That is awful. 

  • Guest

    I can not get why some people are so cray like that….

  • Guest

    I can not get why some people are so cray like that….

  • Sarah

    Unbelievable!  I breastfeed anywhere and at anytime.  I’m discreet but don’t always use my cover.  

  • Weepiggiestbay

    It is the most natural thing to do, Atleast now we have coverups and other options to use, people should not have a problem with this!

  • Susanne Muller Munroe

    Breastfeeding was not easy at first for me and it took a few weeks for baby and I to get the hang of it but once  we did, it became a part of of our life for 10 months.  It was so natural and convenient.  Luckily I was never chastised for feeding in public, but have heard from so many other moms that they’ve had negative experiences when feeding in public.

  • Lauren

    this is crazy i didnt know the laws exactly, but i knew you could breastfeed in public,  some people just dont understand how hard it is to have a hungry infant and be in public.

  • Kat

    I had to formula feed – was unable to breast feed.  Some people can’t Katy – don’t be offended – you don’t always know the story.  Just saying.

  • Kaylee Matheson

    Breastfeeding unfortunately didn’t work out with my first, but I’m determined to make it happen this time around – I love seeing mamas breastfeeding in public, as the more it happens, the more “normal” it will hopefully seem to the general public.

  • Ashley

    I have never experienced this personally as I have always been a fairly shy breastfeeder (if that is grammatically correct).  I tend to go into a private place for my own comfort. I could care less if someone walking by has an issue with it. I don’t like seeing them pick their nose in public but they still do it and I am courteous enough to keep my comments to myself.  I would expect the same back if this is a choice I made.
    A close friend of mine has this issue on an almost constant basis and it is absolutely absurd.  Especially in this day and age.  It should be far more acceptable than it is.  It almost seems like people are MORE offended with a mother nourishing their child than they are if they see someone doing something illegal or treating the homeless with disrespect.  That’s right turn the other cheek with you see injustice in the world but feel free to tell me off for feeding my baby.  The nerve.

  • Ashleigh

    It is shocking and offensive that someonewould say that to a mother who is doing the best for their baby.

  • Angie

    I haven’t offended anyone yet – at least not that I have been told.  I have breastfed in every public place imaginable, using a cover of course.  Before I had a baby I was really shy about my body and didn’t think I would want to feed in public but not anymore!  :)  I would have been so upset if I was asked to leave somewhere because I was breastfeeding.  We can’t be expected to stay at home 24 hours a day – we need to get out, and babies need to eat when we are out.

  • Ronalea

    It really bothers me that stuff like this is happening more and more. I will BF when and where I need to!

  • Rhonda Scales

    Obscene,…feeding babies the garbage in the formula is obcene…just look at the how pure a breastfed babies poop is compared to a formula fed baby….gag!!

  • Jmc_62

    Shameful! Can’t believe a clerk would do that. It’s not like she was topless and letting it all hanging out. I would speak to a manager and get the clerk in trouble as well report them to the better buisness bureau.

  • Jennifer Capin

    I can’t believe that people would tell a mother not to breastfeed or take their child to bathroom to feed. If you don’t like what you see then don’t look. 
    I have never been chastised for feeding in public. My Son was born 10 weeks premature and spent 7 weeks 2 days in the NICU. I fed him daily by breast feeding in the hospital and pumping. By the time I brought him home my milk had ran dry. I wish I was able to breastfeed longer but was unable to. I would have feed him whenever and where ever he wanted to be fed!

  • Majicmel23

    wow I can’t believe the close mindedness of some people!!!  and for another comment if they don’t want us doing it in public you’d think more businesses would have a nursing room!!

  • EMRose

    I read this blog and all of the comments that go with it.  I was completely blown away that a store clerk could be so offended about someone feeding her child, as I’m sure most of us were.  However I was not expecting someone to add a comment about being offended when they see someone feeding their baby formula.  I have to say that I laughed out loud at work…  

    Everyone has their own reasons for feeding their children the way they do, what they do and where they do it.  There are no special spots in heaven for moms who breast feed over moms who don’t.  There should however be special spots for those who get offended by stupid things.  

  • Tiffany_dundon

    I’m very surprised that someone would tell a mother she could not breastfeed her child in public. I breastfeed my baby and always cover up in public. However, even if I didn’t I wouldn’t have the nerve to tell someone else how to feed their child.

  • Debbie Kolysher

    Great article.  I am a breast feeding mom, myself!

  • Carly_paige

    I have never been chastised, but I have avoided it in certain places for fear of it. One day I just decided I wasn’t going to care anymore, my baby is more important than that. Outings were so much less stressful after that!

  • Bruntonmom

    I would definitely continued to breastfeed. Its healthy and an awesome thing we can do for babies and mommies. For those who can’t breastfeed, I’m so haooy that formula is available for you.

  • Victoryssong

    Thank you  this happend to me i still can not belive it

  • dee56

    I breastfed both my children for the first year of their lives; but I never breastfed in public… I always managed feedings so that I never had to. Occasionally I would have to find a private place, or my car, etc. I think some breastfeeding mothers are totally immodest, and I have seen some women with their breast just flopping in plain view… no need for that. I managed very nicely two years of breastfeeding without ever once exposing myself. Use the right clothing to allow access, nursing bras, a little blanket for covering and there should be no issue. Just because you are breastfeeding doesn’t mean you have to be in anyone’s face and flaunt it. Almost seems some women are daring someone to say something But what do I know- I nursed my babies twenty-five years ago… a different age, definitely a more modest one. I support breastfeeding 100 percent… it doesn’t bother me to see women nursing and I encourage every woman to do so. Just realize you don’t live in an ideal world where everyone is accepting and employ a little discretion.

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