Another Southern woman who was breastfeeding her infant at a restaurant was asked to cover up or leave last week. Previously, a Kentucky woman was asked to leave an Applebee’s restaurant for the same “offense.”
What is it with these so-called “family” restaurants? Apparently being a family establishment means you can eat together with your family so long as you’re not having to feed your baby. Makes perfect sense!
After a few complaints from other customers, the Denny’s manager finally called the police to ask them what the law stated regarding breastfeeding mothers. As it turns out, North Carolina law protects a breastfeeding mother’s right to breastfeed even if her nipple is showing. However, the police stated that they could force her to leave on the grounds of “trespassing.” That’s always a great way to get rid of customers, right?
The article states the following:
The Asheville Police Department says their officer informed Denny’s that indecency laws do not apply to breastfeeding mothers, but that they could charge Everitt with trespassing since Denny’s is a private business that reserves the right to refuse service. APD says the manager did not charge Everitt with trespass.
Apparently there is surveillance video of the incident, but Denny’s is refusing to release it – most likely because there is nothing to see. Or maybe because when it comes down to it, the breastfeeding baby was eating the best meal in the house.
Make sure to watch the video – it’s a true gem.
[This post was written by Kristen Chase.]
Wait… trespassing? Huh??? It seems that would still be a violation of state laws, no?
Jackie Hernandez says
I am a huge fan of breast-feeding and totally understand baby can’t always wait until you get home. However, I think it is only decent to cover up. They make so many nice coverups these days. Even a simple shawl could make breast-feeding more discreet.
I also wish restaurants and retailers could provide better facilities for mothers with young infants. Besides the fact that most changing stations are broken and inconvenient, there is never a seating area in the restroom. Perhaps a nice place to sit in the restroom would give breast-feeding mothers a place to go instead of feeding at the table.
Was the customer modest and at least using a towel or blanket to keep things covered as best as possible, or not?
Yes, the baby needs to eat, and yes she is eating dinner with her family, but at the same time it becomes uncomfortable for other parents with small children if there is no sense of modesty displayed.
Cate Nelson says
I just wrote a blog calling on women to respond to CNN’s IReport question, “Is it okay to BF in public?”
*Love* the wording of that, BTW. Is it okay if my child eats? If it’s not too much trouble? Because she’s practically wasting away (if you ask her)! Like I’ve said before, I’ll feed my baby in the bathroom when people with poor table manners meet me there; I find THAT offensive!
Kristen Chase says
Jenn and Jackie — I’ve never actually seen any part of a woman’s breast while she is breastfeeding. And if I have, it’s been a part that you see in a low cut shirt.
Many babies don’t like having a blanket or nursing cover over them. And really, the question is not so much if people are offended by the breast but more so the actual act.
Because really, how much breast do you see? I’m pretty sure that it’s not enough for it to be seen as “offensive.”
Kristen – exactly! Very little of the breast is even exposed and usually there’s a baby’s head blocking the view. How would these ‘offended’ people feel if they were asked to eat their dinner under a blanket? It is so sad that Americans are offended by the most natural and nutritionally superior way to feed a baby.
Also, breastfeeding in the bathroom is disgusting! I wouldn’t even use the toilet in most restaurants (especially Denny’s) because they are so gross let alone feed my baby in there. I agree that it would be nice if Restaurants had an area to accommodate breastfeeding mothers but it shouldn’t be in the restroom.
Crimson Wife says
I’m pretty conservative when it comes to sexual morality but I fully support the right of moms to BF in public. Hooters waitresses are immodest. Moms feeding their babies the way God intended are not.
I personally feel most comfortable finding a private area to nurse (or covering with a blanket if a suitable one is not available). But it’s up to the individual mom to make that decision. Nobody should have the right to tell her to cover up or leave!
Jamie Ervin says
I always managed to cover up just fine with baby and whatever clothing I was wearing… my MIL who was an avid DON’T DO THAT person even said she’d never seen anyone “DO IT as well” as I did… I hate that “IT”. Anyway, there is NO reason a breastfeeding mother should have to add extra layers. Babies pull blankets off, then you really end up exposed and they make it hot and prevent eye contact between Mother and Baby.
I did nurse in lounges off restrooms when available, but I would NEVER nurse in an actual bathroom. Gross. I had a job when my youngest was six months old that expected me to pump in the bathroom… YUCK… would you prepare or eat your food where people poo?
I always used a cover-up when I BF in restaurants. I used the Bebe au Lait Hooter Hiders that had an opening so that I could maintain eye contact with my daughter. It was also lightweight, so not too hot.
I do feel like it’s the decent thing to do to cover up in public. Unless you are quite deft and have a very docile baby, there will likely be some nipple flashing between unclipping your nursing bra/top and latching the baby on. Had it not been for my cover, I know I would have been flashing a lot of people! Along those lines, I also feel like it’s distasteful for men to wear tank tops and muscle t-shirts at restaurants because I don’t want to be looking at their armpit hair when I eat. And since many restaurants have a dress code (“No shirt, no shoes, no service”), BF-ing seems to fall into that category of “decorum.”
Still, it should be the same for everyone. If you’re going to ask me to leave for BF-ing in public, then that guy flashing me all the pit hair should be asked to leave as well.
I agree that there should be some level of decorum, but as previously stated, covers are not always an option. They get hot for the baby, especially in this NC heat. My daughter HATES being covered with my nursing wrap. She will pull it off. I do use it however when I’m getting her latched and then I leave it on but pull it off of her head. So really, you can’t see anything but the back of her head. Personally, I’ve never had any problems, but then again, I don’t go out much lol. Luckily, the local mall has a ‘nursing room’. And I love it and think more places should have one. I will never feed my baby in a bathroom or covered by hot stuffy covers. I think I may be quoting someone, but how would you feel if you were asked to eat in a nasty bathroom and under a blanket? Exactly.
And trespassing?? That’s just absurd!! I would laugh in their face.
Lyn Smit says
Breast feeding in public is the most natural thing in the world – what God intended for our species. We should rather frown upon babies who bottle feed and say “shame, what a pity you couldn’t breastfeed your precious baby”! In our country, S Africa, nobody blinks an eye if we see an indigenous baby breastfeeding in public. They got it right but now the younger generation are falling into the same trap of the Western nations. The more babies feeding in public the better as then it would be more common and acceptable for all! Lyn
Most of these “public places” mentioned are not public places. A restaurant even if it is open to the public is a privately owned establishment and they can set almost any rules they want (except for things like smoking, etc)
Jennifer Lance says
So does a private restaurant have the right to deny service to a black person? Breastfeeding is a civil right.
it depends, in some jurisdictions, they can disallow it, some they can’t. some it is protected like you said. It isn’t a “civil right” there isn’t anywhere in the constitution saying it’s allowed or disallowed, like how people say smoking is a right.
The argument that it should be allowed because it is “natural” in itself is quite ridiculous.
Masturbation and defecation and urination are natural as well. It’s natural to eat uncooked food (meat) , humans are the only species who builds fires and cooks their food.
It may be natural to act on impulse and swat someone you disagree with, but we live in a civilized society and must exercise restraint for the common good and welfare, it’s what seperates us from animals, we don’t have to act on instinct.
But, why if it’s indecent exposure for women to go around topless is breastfeeding in public allowed, provided the breast is visible.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful option for moms, if they are able to do so. I know it is tough, breastfeeding isn’t as easy as it seems. The argument whether it is tasteful in public is an archaic one at best. If we turn on prime time television, have access to the internet or walk down a public street, we see women who have decided to have breast augmentation for either enhancement or reduction. We all are exposed to a lot of skin in western culture. If people are aghast about a woman with large breasts wearing a tight shirt, one usually makes a quiet comment and looks away. If people are also so distraut by catching a glance of a woman breastfeeding in public, follow the same mantra, look away. This is quite simple.
Jennifer Lance says
I agree. Breastfeeding is natural. When I see women with huge breast augmentations showing off their grapefruits on instagram, I try to ignore and not judge. I have never felt uncomfortable seeing a woman breastfeeding unless she herself looks uncomfortable and has a blanket over herself and child.