Article updated on June 12th to include the restaurant’s response.
MAPLE RIDGE (NEWS 1130) – How do you feel about breastfeeding in restaurants?
A mother in Maple Ridge claims she was curtly asked to cover up at a table in a local establishment because people around her were eating.
Brianne McNally says her family sat down in The Frogstone Grill last Saturday evening; it was hot and her two month old baby was crying, so she started to feed her.
“It felt to me like it was discreet enough and a woman at the restaurant — I assume she was the manager — came over and said ‘Do you have a blanket or something to cover yourself up with? This is a restaurant and there are people eating,'” McNally tells NEWS 1130.
“There was no introduction or anything. It just felt very abrupt so I quickly took the baby off and we asked for our food to go. We just left.”
The mother of four says she was shocked and caught completely off guard, so she apologized.
“I shouldn’t have, but it was really surprising. This is my fourth baby and it’s the first time anyone has ever reacted in that way.”
McNally says she isn’t aware of any complaints from other diners in the restaurant. She has not been in contact with The Frogstone Grill since last Saturday, though her story has spread on Facebook.
McNally says she has come forward because she would hate to see the same thing happen to someone else.
“It can be really hard, especially for a newer mom who could be struggling with breastfeeding. Something like this happening can be really off-putting and could discourage someone from continuing.”
The restaurant’s owner has posted a response to McNally’s claim on Facebook, denying the her claims.
“Is the story true and is it accurate? Not remotely. Is there an ulterior motive for the claims? This is the best question to ask. A restaurant asking a mother to cover up her baby sure sounds like a terrible story, but does it really make sense?” writes Todd Pratt.
“What we don’t want is women that feel they need to bare it all while feeding their baby. They will be asked to cover themselves up. There is already one topless bar in town and council won’t approve another,” he adds.
Anne Kirkham with La Leche League Canada — an advocacy and support group — says she hears fewer stories like this these days.
“I think there is a lot more awareness, so what happens when someone is confronted is that people are shocked about it and talk about it a lot more,” she tells NEWS 1130.
Kirkham admits some people are still uncomfortable if a breastfeeding mother isn’t covering up with a blanket.
“They’re just not happy sometimes about what kind clothing she’s wearing or how much skin is being shown. There’s a shift in acceptance, but there is still something happening in that people feel they need to confront women or tell women how to behave.”
Her advice to anyone who has been confronted for breastfeeding?
“We just suggest they be polite and inform the person of their right to breastfeed in public,” she tells us. “It’s hard to be friendly when someone is basically telling you that you’re doing something wrong but we do recommend that people just be calm and talk to the person.”
Kirkham says confrontations often come from an older person “who isn’t up to date” or a younger person “who hasn’t got much of a clue” about parenting or babies.
“Just realize that the person taking care of their baby is doing something really healthy for their child and the most important thing is that the child is being taken care of. Hungry babies aren’t patient and breastfeeding is better than a crying baby.”