07 January 2009

Breastfeeding and nationality

I had a most interesting exchange with a fellow customer while breastfeeding my son at a Target in Durham, North Carolina. I was sitting in the cafeteria area and this woman spoke to me as she exited the store with her cart full of purchases.

Customer: There are places in the restroom where you can do that, you know. There are a lot of kids running around here and they might get the wrong idea.

Me: Well, then this is a nice way for them to learn.

Customer: You must not be an American citizen, because if you were, you would know better. (walks away)

I'm supposed to feed my child in a bathroom? Is she going to eat in the bathroom? In the land of cup holders, doesn't it make sense that babies should be able to drink in public, too? And another thing, what kind of wrong idea are kids going to get if they see a woman breastfeeding? Might they learn that babies can be nourished by their mother's milk? Shocking. As for the American citizen part, it's just crazy. It suggests that all American citizens subscribe to one set of values. This is the same mentality that leads to an integration course of the Dutch variety. In this instance, it also gave me plenty of fodder for jokes. For instance, "I'm an American, but my son is half-dutch. That must be the part of him that decided to get hungry in public."

Prior to leaving for my holiday visit in the US, I worried about receiving negative comments about breastfeeding in public. This exchange happened a couple days before we left and the day after my husband mentioned that my worrying seemed to have been unfounded. What a disappointment. On the other hand, it has convinced me that I'm going to keep on doing what I do. Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world. If anyone sees the lady from the Target, thank her for me. She helped me realize how important breastfeeding is to me and has given me a story to share at dinner parties for years to come.


  1. Seriously, that woman was way, way, way out line! I breastfed my baby everywhere! I even got to the point where I didn't even use a blanket, nothing showed anyways! In a bathroom? That is about the grossest thing EVER! Sure, if places have breastfeeding rooms (love you - my local mall) then I'll go there. But I'm not about to go hide out in the bathroom.

  2. Oh my god, rude!!! If she had a problem she had every right to leave. There is no law against breastfeeding in public. These things irritate me so much when I go back to North America. Get over it people!!

    You are a bigger person than I am, I would have had a few choice words for her after those comments.

  3. Woah Christine, that's intense. I sincerely hope that lady doesn't have kids, for their sake. Power to your motivation to continue public breastfeeding.

    xoxox and hope you had a great holiday,



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