All parents have been there — you’re out running errands with your kids, when suddenly your baby gets hungry. For Florida mom Amanda McLaughlin, the experience proved more challenging than usual.
Last week, McLaughlin started nursing her baby at a local IKEA. As CBS Miami reports, after an uninviting experience, she organized a public “nurse-in” to demonstrate a mother’s right to breastfeed in public.
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. 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!”
As soon as she heard the message, McLaughlin felt confused and singled out. “I really thought someone complained, as I had just started to nurse my daughter,” she tells Babble.
While at the store, McLaughlin shared the experience on Facebook and immediately received comments from other moms encouraging her to talk to IKEA management. So she decided to investigate. The general manager explained that the announcement was not intended merely for her, but was part of an automated recording that played randomly throughout the store during the day. McLaughlin relays in her post that she “had been there for over an hour and didn’t hear any kind of recording like this.”
She checked out the “baby care room” mentioned in the announcement, but it was merely a family bathroom. It contained a baby changing table, a sink, and an enclosed toilet. A biohazard box for insulin needles sat above the chair designated for feedings. And the changing table, when opened, folded out right by the chair. McLaughlin also shares that while she visited the IKEA that week, non-families used that bathroom.
Once she saw the conditions for nursing mothers, McLaughlin knew she had to take stronger action. So she took to Facebook to rally local moms to join her in a “nurse-in” at IKEA. To her surprise, nearly 50 moms attended.
“It was wonderful to see so many women coming together for a greater cause. Some traveled even as far as over an hour away from South Miami and West Palm Beach,” McLaughlin tells Babble. “I am so grateful for the support.”
The North Florida IKEA responded to the nurse-in by providing participants with a free breakfast and making sure managers were in attendance to hear their concerns. They also allowed several local news stations to record coverage of the morning. While McLaughlin and the other mothers are appreciative, they’re encouraging them to remedy this situation.
In the CBS Miami interview, one mom says, “You don’t want to feed your baby next to a diaper changing area.” While another states, “Putting an actual nursing room together for us — that would be progressive.” McLaughlin even mentioned that the IKEA employees wouldn’t nurse in that bathroom. “All of them said no,” she relays.
IKEA management agreed to consider putting up signs around the store supporting public breastfeeding but needs corporate approval first. They also responded in a statement to ABC Local 10 News.
“At IKEA, we support breastfeeding moms in all store locations, with private areas to nurse their babies, if that is what they prefer,” they say. “Note that IKEA supports mothers’ rights to breastfeed openly. We are a family friendly company who strives to provide a comfortable environment for all of our customers.”
While McLaughlin is happy to learn that IKEA has a positive message for nursing moms, she suggests this branch makes it clear that they are supporting nursing moms both publicly and privately in their store to prevent another misunderstanding. And she hopes they create a safe, clean space. “Mothers who enjoy or prefer to nurse privately should not be forced to feed their babies in a bathroom,” she tells Babble.
While this IKEA has not officially put signs up yet, McLaughlin and other moms are hopeful they will take this experience to heart. She is one awesome mama who can remind us all to speak up and take a stand when we feel the status quo needs to change!
h/t: CBS Miami