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Breastfeeding Mother Asked to Cover Up

Breastfeeding Mother Asked to Cover Up

After Indiana-mother Maggie Naas ordered food for herself, she decided to breastfeed her 11-month old, Katie. But when she followed this instinct, the culture around her responded. The Olive Garden manager asked Naas to either cover up or feed her baby in the restroom.

“We had numerous guests complain about her modesty, Olive Garden General Manager Matthew Madden told KSDK, an NBC-affiliate in St. Louis. “There were children in the dining room. If the mother were more modest, this would have never been an issue.”

While I wasn’t in the restaurant, I imagine that the absence of a blanket was most of the reason that Nass’ breastfeeding seemed immodest. Why are feeding mothers expected to use a blanket and cover up? It seems like an unnecessary burden that only contributes to the taboo nature of breastfeeding. And why is breastfeeding such a terrible thing for children to see?

According to the news report, Nass didn’t have a blanket with her, and didn’t want to feed her child where people go to the bathroom, so she decided to leave.

“Culturally in the United States we do not accept breastfeeding as the norm, which we really need to, because it is the norm in feeding babies,” Lactation Consultant Cindy Razo told KSDK.

I agree with Razo. To me, this story highlights more than just a problem with one restaurant manager. It highlights a problem in mainstream U.S. society. The fact that there were numerous complaints about a woman naturally feeding her child shows how distant many of us have become from nature and the source of food. Naas was made to feel ashamed for following her natural maternal instinct, when instead, we should feed ashamed of our society for having such an aversion to seeing a completely natural event.

What do you think? Should restaurants and other public places mandate whether breastfeeding is acceptable, or decide what is modest breastfeeding? What would you have done in this situation? Share your comments.

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Megan Zehnder

Megan is an editor and producer for Care2's Healthy Living. Her main priorities are to live simply and build meaningful relationships with the people in her life. She loves to write and talk about environmental issues, healthy living, and women's rights. Beyond that, her interests change daily, but eating and cooking vegetarian food is always a favorite.

246 comments

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8:32PM PDT on May 13, 2013

OMG Victoria, I'm sorry, I cannot stop laughing at your post. For starters; God doesn't" put milk into mommys' chests", it's hormonal. And the milk comes from breasts, not "chests". Bottom line: BF is in fact normal, and EVERYBODY knows this, it's just that some don't give a crap and that IS their prerogative as well. A BF mother needs to come to grips with the fact that not everybody will want to see her nurse her child in public. And that IS the publics' prerogative as well. One can't go around stomping their feet and demand that everyone accept BF in public on the basis that it is normal and natural. The public DOES in fact know this already, but many people don't care and don't want to see it. That's the way the world spins.......so get used to it.

3:20AM PDT on May 10, 2013

f Sex education was MANDATORY and children were shown women breast feeding, they would see that it is a natural and beautiful experience. They would learn that breast feeding is best for the baby for health reasons. Within a few generations women would be breast feeding all the time in public whenever the baby was hungry without shame or embarrassment. That is the only criteria.
If you don't want to see a woman breast feeding, DON'T LOOK. Why should the baby be inconvenienced by your insecurities and moral indignation? When I go to a restaurant, I am going to eat or talk to a friend if I see someone eating with their mouth open which I find unpalatable I look away. Problem solved.

10:53PM PDT on Aug 8, 2012

First of all, breastfeeding is a natural way of feeding young. As a matter of fact, formula bottle feeding did not come into fashion until the 1920s. The latter is also not as healthy as feeding infants/toddlers as Nature intended by the breast or at the teat. Would you hide an older child's eyes, or block your husband's view, even avert your own eyes, if you saw an mother animal feeding her you in public? I doubt it, and if it did disturb you, or you felt it to be an Act of Eroticism, then something is horribly sick within yourself...

Grow-up world & stop pushing your inhibited humans on the normal folks of this world... When my now adult children were infants and breastfed, I nursed them anywhere, anytime they needed nourishment... This included driving down a national highway of mixed traffic often consisting of big rigs; such passed our family car as I was nursing our daughter as my husband drove the car. I looked up to see this truckdriver checking out the scene below his higher built rig than our car, I just smiled up at him politely, not embarrassed, & kept right on breastfeeding my daughter as the trucker passed on by...

2:28PM PDT on Aug 1, 2011

There is a time and a place for everything. A pub is NOT a place for children or breastfeeding infants. I want to have a nice evening drinking and eating with my friends and whatnot and i do not wish to "see" or hear an infant in a restaurant like a pub. Enough of the "if you don't like don't look" stuff. I'm going to be facing my BF when talking to him - in some cases it is unavoidable. I agree with Tara W. For the record I would never ask a breastfeeding mom to take baby to the washroom to feed. Like I say time and a place for everything. A pub and certain restaurants are not for children or babies. I wish to dine without the cries of baby or kids getting in the way. There are plenty of family-friendly places adults can take kids for supper and dining experience. (other than fast food)

Nothing wrong with breastfeeding - just gotta be discreet!

2:06PM PDT on Aug 1, 2011

breast feeding is wonderful,i personally wouldnt want my breast exposed in a public place mind you,but its a wonderful and natural thing to do.perhaps in museums and similiar places it ought to be avoided as the general public are ther for sightseeing etc and might be a little put off,thats if they indeed notice these things,as said.

1:23PM PDT on Aug 1, 2011

WOW I'm udderly unimpressed with the fact that people are comparing breastfeeding to defecating in public. And that putting a napking over your breast (which doesn't hold by the way) doesn't seem awkward. Get over it people. Women will and should be able to nurse their child and if a restraunt manager wants to say something otherwise then I will call the cops and press charges for harassment. Which by the way I have done and came back in my favor.

9:31PM PDT on May 7, 2011

I'm with Tara W: not all things "natural" have to be done in public. It's not about agreeing or disagreeing with breastfeeding, it's about discretion and respect. Nothing wrong with the human body and going without clothes is natural, would you do that in public? Would you have sex in public? Would you defecate in public? A little consideration for others goes a long way :)

11:36PM PDT on Mar 23, 2011

I don't understand how can anyone be in favour of using a blanket for covering. It is stupid, if you don't like it, don't look, and show respect to that woman. The issue is not with the mother breastfeeding but in the eyes and minds of the ones who are looking. A breast was made exactly for that, if you still think that its main object is sexual, you have a prooobleeemmm!! In my country, something similiar happened in a public museum, and the mother was asked to leave, and she left. Next week there were lots of mums and babies breastfeeding alltogether and they were not asked to leave.
Why don't some mums organise and go all together to that restaurant? they are paying as customers, so I suppose the manager would not like them to leave then.

8:41AM PDT on Mar 22, 2011

Why should women have to cover up while feeding their babies? It's one of the most natural things to do and nothing to be ashamed about.


7:25AM PDT on Mar 22, 2011

.awful. violence over mothers and babies...

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