Saturday, August 3, 2013

Finding unexpected support in our community


Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

 DAY 13 : Unexpected Support in Breastfeeding

  This post was written as part of the Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about your most unexpected support.. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 22nd through August 4th!  

When I first became a parent I found it isolating. Very few of the parents in my neighborhood understood, or made the same parenting decisions  as me. So I had few friends and I wasn't feeling much love and acceptance from the community at large.

Soon after my son turned 1 year while we were at Whole Foods Market, a manager came up to me and asked me to cover up myself while breastfeeding. Being me I couldn't just say 'no' and take it in stride, I had to inform them on why what they just did was so inappropriate. This led to highly frustrating conversation that lasted over half an hour and brought up so many false claims and misconceptions about breastfeeding that I found myself drowning in a sea of ignorance. From implying breastfeeding interfered with their 'family atmosphere' to directly stating "look we just don't want you doing it here" I heard so many things that day that shook my confidence in breastfeeding. HARD.
I remember the next time I went to Harmon's and had to breastfeed Moonflower I was shaking like a brand new mom. I was terrified of having to justify myself again. Was this how it was going to be from now on?

When I called her on the way home from Whole Foods, My best friends words were something like 'Fuck 'em, we'll do a nurse in. They can't do this!' I was comforted to hear her so enraged by my experience but I was also skeptical. I had been online and read articles that claimed nurse-ins don't accomplish anything and only marginalize breastfeeding further.

So first I gave Whole foods a chance to 'make it right'. I sent a formal letter detailing my experience to SLC, Denver, and Austin (WFM world headquarters).

The response I got back was appalling, justifying their employees actions as "appropriate" and asserting their rights to decide what goes on in their store.

We moved ahead with the nurse-in via national online campaign. The emails I had forwarded to me from people who had complained about my experience had a similar sentiment to the letter I had received and in some cases were straight up lies.

But then like in fairy tale something amazing happened. Our community of mothers, breastfeeding families and advocates broke them down. I think they started to realize this was going to be a bigger problem for them than one unhappy family. They sent me a nice letter. An apology. They promised to create a written policy to prevent things like what I had experienced from occurring again.

On the day of the nurse-in I was feeling nervous. What if it was just me? I thought that was unlikely but I never thought I'd be confronted for breastfeeding at whole foods market either. When I got there the entire front end of the store was packed with breastfeeding families and advocates. I was over whelmed, surprised, and very glad for the support.

If nurse-ins really never had affected policy before that's history now.  On a very personal level the nurse-in and all the support form our community helped restore my courage and confidence to be able to breastfeed without fear. I don't think I was able to express myself then and I'm not sure I've been able to fully now but I have so much gratitude for the community we have here. I have been happy to participate this week in the carnival and I'm looking forward to the cafe.

Thank you so much!

~ Angelina 

Here are more post by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.


amy @ wildflower ramblings said...

Wow I can't believe this happened to you, and at whole foods! This inspires me to attend a nurse in if there is one in my area :)

angelina said...

I know when it was happening I was like "did you really just ask me that?" it surprised me how much it changes your perception to actually be confronted like that. It is SO crazy and RUDE.