Lets Talk About The Contraversial Topic of Breastfeeding in Public

Have you ever been shamed for breastfeeding in a restaurant or any other public place?

A mother to a 6-month old baby was directed to cover up or nurse in the bathroom in an Illinois restaurant. According to Kristal Snow Tomko, she had been a customer at the Wilmington Big Fish Bar & Grille for a long time and this had never happened before. Sunday however was different because when the baby began to fuss as she waited to be served, the mother of two decided to nurse her baby.

A nursing mom

What followed next was not only disgraceful but also very rude; she was asked to cover up, do it in the banquet  room or the bathroom. The poor mother simply went to her van and breastfed her child while she cried.

When she complained on the restaurant’s social media later, she not only got no apology, she was also compared to other customers who had been made to leave before for using foul language or dressing inappropriately. How humiliating!

This incident reminded me of a time when I was leaving work when my baby was younger. I worked at Upper-hill in Nairobi and my employer had been good and gracious enough to let me express at work. It was not only relieving, it also ensured that my milk supply kept going and my baby did not have to suffer simply because I went back to work. I would carry the milk home for my baby to take the following day.

This particular day, there was a crusade at Uhuru park where I used to walk through as I headed to town and the guards were going through people’s handbags before letting them through. This was as a result of the Alshabaab threats in the country. I had no problem with someone going through my bag because I understood that they were doing their job and for the good of us all.

When the lady went through my bag however, she held out the 2 breast-milk filled Avent containers and asked me what they were. I explained that it was my breast-milk. ‘You’ll have to take a sip,’ she said. I smiled foolishly thinking that that had to be the most ridiculous joke I had heard all day.

But she was serious! Not even smiling. She just stood there waiting for me to do it. I could not believe it.

Instead of engaging them, I just decided that it would be much easier to simply go round, following the road like a vehicle and not go through Uhuru park. I therefore turned to go and that is when the guard grabbed my arm and dragged me to the supervisor.

I told the supervisor that there was no way I was drinking my own milk and he told me that they had no way of knowing what was in the containers. ‘That’s how the terrorists sneak in these things,’ I was told.

I cried all the way to Kencom when they finally let me go. Feeling humiliated and violated. For what? For wanting to give the best to my child. For feeding her and ensuring that I armed her with immunity to not only fight diseases and ailments now, but to reduce her risks of other lifestyle diseases like obesity later in life. The fact that a fellow woman did this to me was all the more hurtful. She was a mother like me, I assumed? How did she not understand? Would she drink her own milk?

But back to the Illinois incident, there is a happy ending to the story. Following the outrage of critics and angered mothers, the restaurant manager has since apologized to Tomko.

Speaking to Yahoo Parenting, the owner of the Big Fish Bar and Grille, John Mathias, regretted saying, “I learned a lot, and I was wrong.”

Image: Courtesy of Pixabay.com  

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