Wow, breastfeeding confrontation. Do adult civil rights end at the schoolhouse door?

OK, this is my first honest-to-goodness breastfeeding confrontation.

We were at Brookview Elementary all day today, teaching 4th and 5th graders the Shim Sham. (tiring!!) The several times that G wanted to nurse, I just excused myself from the room and went in the hallway. I didn’t think it would be appropriate to nurse her in the classroom, and I certainly wasn’t going into the bathroom, and the hallways were largely deserted. Twice, teachers walked by and commented “oh, sleeping baby.” I just looked at them and smiled both times – no need to point it out, right? One of those teachers came in for a closer look and saw that she wasn’t sleeping – her eyes were open – and figured it out and said something like “oh, not sleeping!” and walked away, and that was that.

So. In the afternoon, G was sleepy and hungry, and I was out in the hallway, but I’d already read everything hanging in our hallway, and I was bored. Shirts firmly covering everything up, I peeked around the corners of the intersecting hallway to make sure it was deserted. It was. So I headed over and read some Revisionist History displays. (And can anyone explain why all of the children put a number after their names? Jenna 34. Rachel 2. Destiny 85. Hm?)

As I’m reading, a woman, about my age, walks up and asks “oh, did she fall asleep?” And she’s totally coming in super close and I was starting to get afraid that G was going to unlatch to smile at our visitor, so I sidestepped a bit. Note, before I stepped back, she was so close that her shirt brushed my arm. She stepped around my back to peer over Genna’s head from my other shoulder, at which point I said, “she’s having her lunch.”

“OH.”

I smiled, went back to reading Revisionist History.

“You need to come with me to the lounge.” It was not an offer, it was the same tone of voice I use with Wally when he’s doing something he shouldn’t and he needs to obey immediately without questioning. I half turned and picked up one foot, ready to follow her. Then I remembered that I wasn’t doing anything wrong.

I said, “you know, I think I’ll just go back and hang out near the door to our classroom.” “No. You need to come with me.”

“No, I don’t.”

“This is a school.”

“I know that, but I absolutely have a right to feed my baby here. I’m not going with you.” (yay me!)

She started to talk more, but I just turned and walked back to my classroom and waited for the school cop to come get me. (He never came, lol, but I was seriously afraid he would.) A minute or two later, I heard the same woman walk by, talking to someone else in that loud voice that you use when you want to be sure someone else will overhear you, saying “I mean, I nursed my babies, too, but I would have never done it in a SCHOOL. I just don’t think it’s appropriate with children around.”

Which made me chuckle because, first, why not. And second, what children? In the hallway, it was me and her. The entire hall, just the two of us.

Now, a few thoughts on this.

I was nursing in the most discrete place I had access to – a deserted hallway. I hadn’t seen a child in the hallway any of the times I was out there. I am sort of chuckling that the woman wanted to parade me around two additional hallways en route to the lounge (which I guess I’m assuming is near the office), past one of the most congested areas of the school, and where we were MORE likely to see students.

Second, the woman was so close that her shirt (a tshirt) rubbed on my arm. She was THAT close to me, and she’s my height. She could NOT TELL what I was doing, that close. There’s no way a child, shorter than I and so not able to look DOWN at my chest, could have had any idea what was going on. Not to mention, I was facing a wall and would have absolutely turned however I needed to, or retreated into the other hall if needed.

Third, dang, I was proud of myself. I could have been nicer, considering that we want to come back next year, but then again, I’m not sure how I could have been nicer. I was very polite, but firm. My only other option was to go with her, which I guess I could and perhaps should have done, but the lactivist in me will not allow someone to dictate to me where I can nurse my baby discreetly.

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8 responses to “Wow, breastfeeding confrontation. Do adult civil rights end at the schoolhouse door?

  1. Good for you! There is nothing wrong with children seeing babies being fed in a discreet manner. Maybe seeing a mother and baby so content in breastfeeding would stick in their minds for when they are older and are deciding how to feed their babies. That woman needed to chill out.

  2. That’s exactly what I was thinking, if anyone needs to see babies nursing as part of normal activity it’s kids. They most likely wouldn’t have noticed, wouldn’t have cared, and then hopefully won’t grow up to be like that crazy lady…Good job standing up for yourself and your darling little girl! 🙂 Lol, at least it was Genna, right? 😉

  3. I think it’s wonderful you stood up for yourself. I have to wonder if that woman also didn’t nurse her babies in front of her other children. Imagine the trauma of seeing part of your mother’s boob. Oh the horror. 😉

  4. Children aren’t the ones that are bothered by nursing, it’s the adults. I always carried a blanket with me and would nurse my son everywhere he was hungry. I even did it while shopping for groceries. My in-laws were uncomfortable with my nursing in public, but I think they got better with it when they realized nothing would show and that it was so much easier for me.

  5. I think we all know that kids don’t care… but the woman’s objection was that it was inappropriate because there might be kids around.

    Personally, I do not nurse under a blanket or cover. I would not want to cover MY head while eating, for one. But also, throwing a blanket over the whole thing, in my opinion, only draws attention. The woman had no idea what I was doing until I pointed it out to her. Had I been using a blanket to cover up, she would have been able to tell from the end of the hallway.

  6. Way to go! It’s only a shame that the children not only missed the chance to see a good breastfeeding role model, but also someone standing up for what she believes in in a respectful and appropriate manner. Both would be good lessons for them!

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