The Time I Was Shamed For Breastfeeding In Public

Sharing a new article I wrote for RoleReboot​ about the time I was asked to leave a Subway restaurant while nursing my first son. That was over 8 years ago, but I can still feel the way my throat closed up, and how simply terrified I felt. I was a new mom, just trying to get through my days. I am certainly an advocate for public breastfeeding, and this incident didn’t stop me from doing it, but it helped me to understand in a real way why so many moms feel uncomfortable breastfeeding outside their homes. We need to make the world a kinder place for breastfeeding moms and babies.

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Here’s a sample of the article:

By the time my son was a few months old, I became an expert at nursing anywhere, anytime. And let me tell you, my baby nursed all the time. Every hour, to be exact. I gave little thought to nursing in public: If I hadn’t done it in public, I wouldn’t have left the house. (Pumps didn’t work well for me, nor did I particularly want to use bottles.)

So I nursed at stores, parks, and restaurants. I nursed him in a baby carrier while walking down the street. I learned how to nurse while leaning over his car seat (only when the car was stopped in traffic—with my seat belt on).

I never got a second glance from anyone while nursing in public, without a cover. We live in a suburb of New York City—not many mothers nurse in public, but it isn’t unheard of. I took for granted that I was never harassed. It didn’t even cross my mind.

And then, the summer my son was six months old, we spent a week upstate. One afternoon we decided to go out to lunch. There weren’t a lot of restaurant options so we reluctantly settled on Subway.

While we waited for the sandwiches to be ready, my baby needed to nurse. As always, I lifted my shirt and nursed him. We were seated near the back of the place, in a booth, and my breast and baby were fairly well hidden. I didn’t think about that at the time, but it was a detail that would spin through my head later, as I revisited the scene in slow motion.

Across the restaurant, an employee called out to me: “Excuse me, ma’am, you can’t do that here.”

“What?” I asked, truly not even realizing what she meant.

“Listen, I nursed by babies too, but you can’t do that here. You can go to the restroom if you want to continue. People are eating here.” She motioned to the one other patron, his back turned to me. “That’s indecent exposure,” she said.

Click here to read the full article.

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It’s World Breastfeeding Week, and I will be sharing breastfeeding photos all week on my Facebook Page. Please come over and take a look. I’ll post as many pictures as I get. Email pictures to me at wendywisner78@gmail.com.

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