Busted Nursing At The Grocery Store

By Sarah Fader

I was on my way home from the playground with the two kids today, and stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few things. The minute I entered the store, Samara started crying and I knew she wanted to nurse.

A cashier kindly helped me push the stroller (where Ari was happily sitting) over to a bench where she said I could feed my baby. I took Samara out of the Moby Wrap she was in and plopped her on my left boob, her favorite of the pair. I didn’t bother to cover myself, because Samara was blocking the majority of my boob with her head.

The cashier took the Moby Wrap, placed it over my boob and Samara’s head.

Then she said, “People really don’t want to see that. It’s better this way.”

I looked at her for a split second and said,”Oh, I really don’t care.”

I meant I didn’t care about part of my breast being exposed while nursing. It’s highly likely that I’ll never see these people in the grocery store again, and I really don’t care what they think about me.

But she was insistent that I cover myself up. Personally, I find being covered up while nursing

  • Uncomfortable, because I can’t maneuver properly.
  • Unpleasant, because I can’t look at my baby while feeding her.
  • Unnecessary, because I’m not doing anything wrong, and if you’re offended by me nursing my kid, perhaps you should look the other way.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the ovaries to confront this woman so I just smiled, nodded and nursed uncomfortably.

My mom once told me that she was yelled at for nursing baby me in the middle of Macy’s Herald Square.

Have you ever been shamed while nursing in public?

Sarah Fader records anecdotes from her daily life at at Old School New School Mom. She also currently runs blog workshops for elementary school children in New York City and provides freelance transcription services for major television networks, in between running after a two year old.

38 Responses to Busted Nursing At The Grocery Store
  1. Stephanie
    February 21, 2011 | 11:18 pm

    Oh this makes me sad- I mean, her reaction is common and it was nice of her to accommodate you in the beginning, but I do wish more people felt the way you and I do about it. I have never been shamed, thankfully, and I’ve nursed my four anywhere and everywhere, and still openly nurse Ivy (2 1/2 years) in public if need be.


  2. kristin
    February 21, 2011 | 11:43 pm

    This is sad, although I too felt just like you many times.

  3. Candace
    February 22, 2011 | 12:58 am

    I have never been personally been shunned while nursing. Of course, I always cover up with a blanket for my own personal comfort. That is just me though.

  4. Ticia
    February 22, 2011 | 3:56 am

    Well it wasn’t actually in public but at my husbands cousins house. We were at a birthday party and everyone was in the dining room, my girl started fussing so I went in the living room and sat on the couch and nursed her. I started noticing kinda funny looks and it seemed like people were avoiding coming in the living room. I felt very uncomfortable. Finally a friends girlfriend came in and sat down and told me she could never have breastfed. She actually said she liked to party and it was just too much of a hassle and very embarrasing. She said it in such a grossed out smug way that I said ” what’s embarrasing is women who can’t stop drinking and smoking long enough to feed their own baby the way it’s supposed to be fed!!” Now I’m not one to put other people down for not breastfeeding, with my first child I only nursed him for a couple months , he was a terrible eater and small and I was kinda relieved when we stopped. Now my daughter was a fantastic eater and we nursed until she was 1yr old, but this lady was so mean and smug that I decided to be mean back!!!

  5. Emily
    February 23, 2011 | 8:42 am

    Heck no have I ever been embarrassed nursing in public. I’m sure plenty of others have been embarrassed on my behalf, but what a waste of their time.

    It drives me crazy when I hear about people being so insensitive to a baby’s need to nourish his or her own body and a mother’s responsibility to see to it.

    Of course, I wouldn’t have had the ovaries to tell the clerk as much, either. But plenty of mental comebacks on the way home.

  6. Mary E.S.
    March 10, 2011 | 2:16 am

    I nursed both of my children but would ask to go to a room where I wouldn’t offend anyone.Most of us older generation(I’m 50) were taught not to bare our selves in public.It does make us uncomfortable and it is embarrassing to us.You are obviously comfortable with your body but some of us would rather not see it.Does it hurt anything to throw a blanket over yourself while nursing? I am not trying to be mean,I’m just putting things from my point of view.

  7. Old School/New School Mom
    March 10, 2011 | 11:18 am

    I see your point, but the issue is that I am not coordinated enough to nurse with a blanket on. And I wasn’t flashing my boobs every where, I was very discreet. I think if people don’t like it, they can kindly look away.

  8. Kristen Rivers
    April 3, 2011 | 2:13 am

    I was actually praised for nursing in public once! But for the most part I try to hide somewhere so no one will be embarrassed. However, I do feel nursing is completely natural and should not be overly sexualized or looked at as wrong. Just because we are nursing does not mean we should have to hide in caves. We still need groceries and social interaction. I find it nice to be around other new moms so we can laugh about all of the silly ways people question our parenting decisions.

  9. Sheridan
    June 29, 2011 | 3:51 pm

    I have had 2 moms compliment me on nursing in public. No negative remarks.

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