Last week, a man in Indiana apparently took issue with a mother breastfeeding her infant in a restaurant — and took a photo of her and shared it to Facebook. [First problem.] After the woman, Conner Kendall, saw the photo of herself posted online, she witnessed others harshly criticizing her for daring to feed her child in public. [Second problem.] Later, Kendall shared a lengthy Facebook post in defense of her public breastfeeding.
Kendall wrote, “I strongly encourage you to educate yourself as well as your daughter about breastfeeding. . . I pray that if in the future your daughter chooses to breastfeed that she is not shamed and does not have her picture plastered all over social media.”
To many mamas, breastfeeding is a simple reality, but sometimes people need to learn the basics. Here’s how to not treat a breastfeeding mother:
1. Don’t stare
Staring at other people while they eat is super awkward. Imagine if someone sat watching wide-eyed as you shoved fistfuls of T.G.I. Fridays delicious french fries into your mouth. Staring is not caring. Don’t do it.
2. Don’t act like a mother feeding her baby is strange
Because it’s basically the most natural thing there is. If you don’t understand that, it’s your problem, not mama’s.
3. Don’t take a photo of the mom and post to social media
In this age of instant digital connectivity, it’s poor form to embarrass other people on your social media accounts. Just say no to social media shame.
4. Don’t assume that the mother has a choice
“I do not use a cover, because my son fights them, screams, and doesn’t eat at all while under them,” Conner explained. It also is inordinately hot under many covers, and babies get sweaty and uncomfortable from the lack of fresh air. Think the mama should nurse her baby in the bathroom? Would you like to eat lunch next to a toilet? Breastfeeding is complicated and challenging for some mothers. Don’t assume you know better than she does.
5. Don’t think that a mother breastfeeding her child is about you
Don’t like breastfeeding? Don’t like babies? Don’t like breasts? Don’t look! Simple as that.
Want to know how you can support a breastfeeding mama?
1. Ask her if she needs anything
Bonus points if you’re offering delicious treats for sleep-deprived new moms like a Venti coffee Frappuccinos with two pumps of vanilla. (For a friend.)
2. Tell her you think she’s awesome
Breastfeeding can be hard work. It requires tremendous sacrifice for some moms and is physically demanding. Let her know you support her.
3. Play it cool
Even if you don’t think so, it’s normal for new mothers to breastfeed their babies. Try not to act like it’s a problem, and pretty soon it won’t be!
4. Advocate for nursing mothers to have more quiet places to feed their children
New moms often struggle to find quiet places to nurse their babies while out in public. We’ve nursed on airplanes, in restroom nursing stops, in the Target bathroom, in our cars, and everywhere in between. Baby’s gotta eat. If you can help mama, more power to both of you.