11 Things To Do If Someone Harasses You About Breastfeeding
It seems like every few weeks or so there is a new story about a woman being harassed or asked to leave an establishment for breastfeeding in public. Though it's admittedly a little bit (OK, a lot a bit) ridiculous that this is even an issue in our society, it is unfortunately a pretty common occurrence. If you're a nursing mom, it can be hard to know what to do if someone harasses you about breastfeeding. Feelings of confusion, anger, or even a desire to hide can arise out of nowhere and cloud your judgement. So it's best to have a game plan for what to do should someone be so rude as to confront you while breastfeeding. Know what to do before it happens will help you be prepared to stand up for yourself and your rights to breastfeed wherever the heck you want to.
Luckily, in my two years of breastfeeding two babies, I've never experienced any of the horror stories or blatant discrimination that I've read about and heard from friends. But I've had my share of rude looks and people clearly getting up to leave when I roll up my shirt to nurse. The good news is that being prepared and educated about our rights as women can help us educate those around us, appropriately handle discrimination and feed our babies with confidence.
1. Remain Calm
Although this is certainly an upsetting situation, becoming enraged at the commenter will only make matters worse. Ask them why they're asking you to move, leave, or cover up, and calmly explain that you're feeding your child (which, by the way, you have the legal right to do.)
2. Don't Threaten Them
Although they are completely at fault, threatening them will make the situation escalate and open the door for the tables to turn.
3. Ignore Them
If you notice someone pointing fingers or being otherwise annoying, you'll probably be tempted to say something. Though you'd certainly be within your rights to do so, sometimes letting it slide for the time being is the best course of action.
4. Talk To A Manager
If you're at a restaurant or other establishment and a customer or employee is the one doing the harassing, ask to speak to the manager who can — and should— handle the situation for you.
5. Follow Up
If you contacted a business owner about the situation, give them a few days to respond and then follow up if you haven't heard anything. Politely explain why the situation was inappropriate and deserves either an apology or change in behavior.
6. Utilize Social Media
The Internet is a powerful tool for rallying alongside women who have been mistreated for nursing in public and raising awareness about their rights to do so. Share your story and chances are people will get behind you.
7. Know Your Rights
In all 50 states, women are allowed to breastfeed anywhere they are legally allowed to be. Most likely, the person commenting isn't aware of this and simply stating your legal rights will shut them up pretty quickly.
8. Get A Lawyer
If the situation escalates or someone is perpetually harassing you, get a lawyer. You have legal rights and they can protect them.
9. Call Someone
Did you know there is a hotline specifically for moms who have been harassed while nursing? Calling theNursing In Public hotline will connect you with someone who can walk you through the best course of action.
10. Refuse To Move
If they simply have somewhere they think may be more comfortable for you (still not a great reason), simply tell them you're comfortable and continue to nurse away.
11. Keep Nursing
Don't let someone's rude comment or inappropriate stares deter you from nursing in public or all together. The health benefits of nursing for both mom and baby are well worth the occasional bump in the road. Keep at it and know how awesome you are.