The Breastfeeding Mom At IKEA Was A Victim Of Bad Timing, Not Shaming

A mom organized a nurse-in at an IKEA after feeling victimized for breastfeeding, but Leslie Kennedy doubts there was any malice involved.

When my daughter was a screaming newborn, IKEA was one of my go-to places to take her. They seem so incredibly baby-friendly, with a nursing room for moms who want privacy to breastfeed and high chairs everywhere in the café. Not to mention, a play room downstairs where we can leave our children while we wander the maze and risk divorce over arguments about flat-pack furniture.

IKEA appear to be one of the most family-friendly places on earth. But they sure did get into hot water recently when breastfeeding mom, Amanda McLaughlin, felt shamed in one of their U.S. stores.

“It all started when McLaughlin was taking a break from shopping to nurse her 5-month-old daughter. She sat down and placed a cover over her daughter while nursing her,” Lindsay Wolf wrote for Babble. “About a minute into nursing, McLaughlin heard a public message over IKEA’s loudspeaker. According to CBS Miami, the announcement stated:

‘Did you know IKEA has a baby care room located in the lobby on the first floor? There is a changing table with a comfortable sitting area, a perfect place for that feeding!’”

Coincidence? She thinks not. “I really thought someone complained, as I had just started to nurse my daughter,” she told Babble.

IKEA said it was a total coincidence. But McLaughlin didn’t buy it and took to Facebook to organize a ‘nurse-in’ that rallied 50 women. IKEA, for their part, served them all free breakfast and made sure managers were on site to hear their concerns. Apparently, they even let media in to cover the nurse-in.

Image via Babble

I feel for IKEA. I also feel for this mom who felt singled out for feeding her baby. Any of us who have ever breastfed in public know the feeling of eyes on you, judging you. Though, as a mom who breastfed and bottle fed, I’m not going to lie, I felt shamed in public for having a bottle in my newborn’s mouth too. But that’s a story for another blog.

Who knows if the announcement was ill-timed or intentional? I personally find it hard to believe that, in the time it took this wonderful woman to break out her breast, someone was able to meander their way through the insane maze that is that store and make their way to the loudspeaker to tell her where she could go to feed her baby. I don’t buy it because if I had a gun to my head, I’d be dead before I was able to navigate IKEA in any sort of efficient time. So, for that reason and that reason alone, I err on the side of  thinking it was just a terrible coincidence.

Regardless, she felt singled out and staged a nurse-in and IKEA responded as only they could: We love breastfeeders! Breastfeed wherever you want!

If the message was indeed ill-timed, they were legitimately trying to let people know there is a comfortable place for women to seek privacy to breastfeed, if that is what they so desire. Many women, for religious reasons or just personal reasons, don’t feel comfortable breastfeeding in public. Should they feel shame for wanting discretion? No. They shouldn’t. And if a baby started crying and that message came up at that second, the message would have been a welcome one, rather than an insulting one.

We all go through our own experiences assuming that everyone else is affected by what we do and what feel, but maybe this was a legit perfect storm of timing. Or maybe it was about her. But, if it was, the best protest is to continue what you’re doing. You do you. And people will just have to learn to deal with it.

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