A woman in the Red Hook, Brooklyn Ikea store reported being sent to the family washroom because she was breastfeeding publicly–though covered–in the store.
She and her 6 ½ month old daughter then had to wait in line at this facility, causing the hungry babe to get very upset.
The unnamed mother posted her experience on a Yahoo! group listserv, where she said that she’s going to file a formal compliant. New York law says that women are allowed to breastfeed anywhere in public or private.
Her experience follows:
On Wednesday I was in Ikea Redhook in the middle of breastfeeding, fully covered, when I was told I had to stop doing “that” and go to the nearby family bathroom. The Ikea employee and security guards were extremely rude to us. I was hustled off to the bathroom and then had to wait because someone else was using it. I was humiliated, my daughter was upset from being interrupted in the middle of her feed.
When eventually I gave up and headed for the car to finish feeding, the security guards who had seen the entire event insisted on checking my receipts. I’m putting together a formal complaint to IKEA. I was wondering if this has happened to anyone else?
There are no exemptions in the NY code that say that a mother and child must head to the bathroom to nurse. In fact, New York just passed a Breastfeeding Mothers’ Bill of Rights.
Chances are, your state protects your right to publicly breastfeed. Click here to check.
Image: Ian Muttoo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.
Original source: Examiner.com
It is horrible that this woman was sent to the bathroom, but it would have been horrible even if she wasn’t covered.
Cate Nelson says
Oh, russ. You just love to get those of us who believe in feeding their children naturally riled up, huh?
The mother said she was going to “file a compliant”, not a lawsuit.
We’re so sorry to confuse you with our public breastfeeding and attachment parenting.
(pssst…after one of my other posts, didn’t you mention fruitcake? I’m still waiting. Is there a coupon or something?)
Poor little thing! The daughter was upset too!
What a twit! Will she feel any better if a million or two get thrown her way by some fuzzy headed judge?
@ Russ – she didn’t say she wanted to file a lawsuit, just a formal complaint (I’m assuming that means with the company and not in a lawsuit… I may be wrong, but then again, that is her right too). So she can feel better next time she isn’t harassed and forced to nurse her child in a bathroom when it is her right to breast feed wherever she wants to.
Jamie Ervin says
I was just watching Michelle Duggar of 18 kids and Counting breastfeed on a parade float… no one had an issue with that very public feed! I was sitting in my living cheering at the TV… that woman will nurse her baby anywhere and I think we need to see more of that on TV and in the media so everyone pulls their heads out and realizes babies need to eat too!
I am wondering if another customer complained to the Ikea employee about her breastfeeding. Because I have seen some customers in other places look at breastfeeding mothers with disgust, like they wish they could send us to the bathroom.
As a breastfeeding mother, if anyone told me to go to a bathroom to feed my child, I would more than upset. I live in California, where the same law is upheld as NY.
I blame the formula companies for making it seem like breastfeeding is a sinful act.
1001 petals says
That is horrible. I would have caused a serious scene right then and there, citing the law. argh. I’m glad she’s filing a complaint. I hope that this news spreads and affects store policies positively.
Carry your “Right to Breast-feed card with you (wallet, purse, diaper bag) at all times. It clearly states the law for every state so there is never a dispute. You don;t even have to speak, just flash it at the insensitive twit who harasses you. I laminated mine but luckily never had to use it.
That sucks! Thankfully our local(ish) IKEA isn’t so misguided. When we were shopping for fixtures to open our store, My husband, 1 month old baby, and I enjoyed (endured?) a 13-hour marathon shopping day at IKEA. Seamus nursed in the cafe, the kids section, sitting at a desk chair in office supplies, lounging on a bed in the bedroom section, and on at least 4 comfy Euro-styled couches/chairs.
I don’t know what I would have done if they had given me a hard time. I mean, it’s IKEA. It’s like a week’s walk to the bathroom from most of the store.
@star: You said “…luckily never had to use [your bf rights card].” after a combined total of about 4 years nursing my two kids, my biggest regret is that some jerk never gave me a hard time. I have had all of these witty comebacks, and legal explanations saved up for years, and never had the chance to use a one.
I’m pro-breast feeding in general, and fully plan on doing so with my own children. I don’t, however, personally feel comfortable doing so in front of anyone other than my husband or few close friends and would NEVER do so in public unless absolutely no other option existed (I’m all about bathrooms and sitting in the car) and under no circumstances would I do so without being covered. That being said, I understand that not everyone may be as “prude” as I am but I also feel uncomfortable when I see others openly breast feeding their children in public. I would never make an issue about someone else’s choice to breast feed just because I don’t want to do so in public, but I also have the right to feel uncomfortable about it. If other customers at the Ikea had complained then I think the store would have the right to (kindly) ask the woman to move to the bathroom, although she also would have had the right to refuse.
Heather Dunham says
The thing is, Leigh, it’s not so much an issue of societal comfort as it is about rights. In fact, I would say that it’s the very fact that many people — intelligent, rational, compassionate people who do support breastfeeding in general — are still “uncomfortable” with public breastfeeding, that is itself the problem.
If you look at historical comparisons of other ‘human rights’ kind of issues… many people were “uncomfortable” with “coloured folk” sharing the same busses, drinking fountains, and schools as their white children. Their discomfort didn’t negate the fact that black people SHOULD have equal rights. The fact that people were uncomfortable with it — many of those people being intelligent and compassionate — was itself the problem.
They were brought up to believe a certain set of societal rules, and that dictates their comfort level. That doesn’t mean those rules are right or fair.
Men were “uncomfortable” with women having the vote. People are “uncomfortable” with gays getting married, or even showing affection (ie, holding hands) in public.
Simply because people are still “uncomfortable” with an idea, does not mean that we should just sit back and wait until they ARE comfortable with it before engaging with and practicing the idea. Only proclaiming the idea despite people’s discomfort will (slowly) begin to change perceptions. Imagine if black people had not forced the issue but just waited until white people changed their minds about segregation, out of fear of making them “uncomfortable.”
I’m not advocating rabble-rousing just to make trouble. But when it’s a legitimate rights issue, oftentimes showcasing the discomfort level of society is the only way to make progress. We can’t just naively accept that some people are uncomfortable so we should “respect that”… their discomfort is a reflection of the (wrong) attitudes of the society in general. Not necessarily their fault, of course, we’re all a product of our societal paradigms. But it is what it is, and that’s where we are lol…
Heather Dunham says
I meant to add:
So — if you think the Ikea should have the right to kindly ask the mom to go to the bathroom because other people were complaining, do you also think that they would have the right to ask a black person to leave the store because people were complaining about their presence? Or to ask a gay couple not to hold hands while in their store? Or a polling station attendant to ask a woman to leave the voting line because some men had complained?
Those examples are (hopefully) obviously ludicrous… because we’re in a society that now (for the most part at least) fully recognizes those rights as acceptable.
And yet, 10, 20, 50 years ago, those things would have happened on a regular basis, and if the internet had existed then, you can bet there would be defenders all over the place saying “black people are so in-your-face, how dare they come into our white-only stores being all exhibitionist with their black-ness, that’s disgusting.” Or “I support black equality, but I’m still uncomfortable with my kids sharing a class with them… they can easily go to their own schools, it’s not like they don’t have that option.”
If people have the right to do something or be somewhere, then NO ONE else has the right to ask them to stop or to go away just because some other people were complaining. The ones complaining are the ones in the wrong. The fact that they are uncomfortable is the problem, not the fact of the person doing the thing making them uncomfortable.
Brittany W. says
Incredibly well put, Heather.
I am a Los Angeles native and had my first public breast-feeding experience (covered) in the back of the shoe section at Ross. I meet Mother’s from previous generations who openly say to me, “I wish I’d breast-fed.” I get adoring and “Right-on Sister!” looks from women in general, and the men, kindly turn away. I had a young lady say to me, that the reason she didn’t breast-feed was because she was embarrassed. That’s a shame. Shame on Ikea! I’m writing a letter. As a breast-feeding mother, I simply want to be comfortable. I have seen women very cleverly feed their children, remaining fashionably undetectable. I wish to be so clever and soon. Children belong to all of us, they are our future and need to be nourished. I am going to print the above linked card. Thank you to that poster.
I live in LA, the Ikea here has always been kind to me nursing in their store. I’ve even gotten comments about being part of the display room with my son!
It’s a shame the NY location’s employees were so uninformed and misguided. Half the draw is that it’s a family- friendly store! Beyond being legal to breastfeed, it’s the right thing to do for our children. Here’s hoping our great capitalist nation catches up with the the rest of the world in that regard soon.
IKEA braking law!!!! I’ve been asked to stop breastfeeding my 2 months old baby at IKEA UK store. I made formal complain and that’s what they replied ” …Mothers can Breast feed anywhere in store providing their breast is not exposed…”. My question to IKEA is how you can breastfeed without exposing your breast. I do not wish to wear cover, if that will be your suggestion. I don’t eat in tent so I treat my baby in the same way. Please share and help to normalize breastfeeding