I know whatever opinion people have about breastfeeding in public tends to be a strong opinion. Even so, I was still caught off guard one evening when I was having dinner in the back booth at a little restaurant. I heard four young adults a few tables over talking about how I was surely breaking health codes and should be feeding my baby somewhere else. I was surprised because my back was to the restaurant and my nursing cover showed less of me than my shirt.
I sat there flushed for a moment wondering what the best way to handle the situation would be. I could have gotten angry and said something snide. I could have tried to turn it into a teachable moment, but the right words didn’t come to me. Had they continued, I would have done something. But they let it go, so I did too.
I think it is safe to assume those four young adults did not have kids of their own. They had no idea I had actually fed my baby before leaving the house to try to avoid having to feed her at the restaurant. I had just returned to work from maternity leave the week before. So they didn’t know that my baby had not been eating through the day, holding out for me to get home, and eating non-stop directly from the source. They didn’t know I had strategically picked my table and nursing cover to try to be respectful of the people around me.
I didn’t have options of anywhere else to feed her. It was below freezing that evening. Going to my car or outside would have been too cold. And I don’t think a public restroom is an acceptable place for anyone to eat.
Since this incident was really a non-incident, why am I still thinking about it?
Well, there are a few reasons.
One, I took precautions to make sure my baby was fed while actively trying to not make those around me uncomfortable.
I was one of those people that, before I had kids, thought I knew everything about having kids. The odds are that at least one of these young adults will one day realize they didn’t know how much they didn’t know about breastfeeding.
Two, this is my first negative experience from others when breastfeeding in public.
It did make realize that after three kids, that’s a pretty good track record. Maybe people are more supportive of breastfeeding in public than angry comments on Facebook would lead me to believe.
Three, I am frustrated that I didn’t have the right thing to say at the time, and still don’t.
I would like to have a quick and tactful response ready to use in case something similar happens again. Any ideas? What’s worked for you?