5 Stories of Moms Who Stood Up to Their Breastfeeding Body Shamers
What better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than with these inspiring women who stood up to the people who tried to shame them for breastfeeding – or in one mom’s case, for using formula. Because at the end of the day, these moms are just trying to do what’s best for their children.
Emily Locke paused to nurse her son in a Cleveland, Ohio, museum after a long day taking photos for her sister’s wedding. Mostly covered, she was surprised when a female employee came up to her and bluntly said, “You can’t do that here,” Locke recalls.
Determined to stand her ground, Locke told both the employee and the manager, “Actually, legally, I can breastfeed my son wherever I want. And I’m fine right here.”
Locke shared her story on Facebook, and the post quickly soared to 64,000 likes and 16,000 shares. Even better, the museum reached out to apologize and is now working to educate businesses all over Cleveland about how to support other breastfeeding moms.
Both Elle and Harper Bradford were “Feeling the Bern” at a Bernie Sanders rally, also in Cleveland, when Elle decided to breastfeed then-6-month-old Harper.
“There is no, ‘Oh, let me feed you in 10 mins,’ ” Elle said. “It’s, ‘I’m feeding you right here right now or you’re screaming.’ A hungry baby is a hungry baby.”
A photo snapped at the rally went viral, and Sanders and his wife, Jane O’Meara, personally thanked Elle for doing what she needed to take care of her daughter.
Dozens of moms in Australia started a rally of their own in a Bendigo mall, after one mom was asked to leave for breastfeeding in the food court.
In protest, women and their babies filled the food court – ultimately, the mall apologized.
“It is obviously disappointing that some women continue to face unnecessary negative comments when they are doing something that is the most natural thing of all,” said one protesting mom.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are women who want more than anything to breastfeed their children, but find that their bodies won’t cooperate.
Elaina Bellis, a new mom to twin daughters, posted on Instagram about how she’s been unable to produce enough breastmilk after complications during their birth.
“It was devastating,” Bellis said. “You have these humans inside your body that your body is building for months, and all you want to do is to be able to provide them with what they need, and build up immunity – especially because my girls were born five weeks early.”
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Her post struck a chord with women across the globe who understood her pain.
“There are so many women who portray this beautiful life of motherhood, and breast milk is flowing – and that’s beautiful and that’s their truth, but I didn’t want to portray that I was all rainbows and sunshine when really I was crying and having a hard time,” she says.
But thanks to the help of her friend, Bellis has been able to give her girls a steady diet of a mix of breastmilk and formula.
Another new mom, Annie Muscato, understands Bellis’ pain of wanting to provide breastmilk, but her own daughter rejected it outright.
Instead, Muscato thankfully found a formula her daughter could drink without “writhing in pain,” and was picking some up at Target when a woman shamed her, saying, “breast is best.”
“But, you are wrong,” Muscato said. “What I know that you don’t is that breast ISN’T always best. I know happy, healthy baby is best. I know FED is best.”