It’s difficult to believe than in 2017 mums are still receiving flak for breastfeeding in public. And yet that’s exactly what Florida mother Amanda McLaughlin claims happened to her in IKEA.
The mum-of-two’s unsettling experience prompted her to organize a “nurse in” in protest.
In a post to Facebook, Ms McLaughlin shared that she was shopping at IKEA Sunrise when her five-month-old became fussy. The multi-tasking mama proceeded to feed her little one standing up, one hand holding onto her stroller as she wondered how on earth she’d make it out of the IKEA jungle before she had to collect her son from the centre’s daycare.
Not 20 seconds after she began to breastfeed – “covered up”, she added – a recorded message came over the loudspeaker.
“Did you know IKEA has a baby care room located in the lobby on the first floor?” it said. “There is a changing table with a comfortable sitting area, a perfect place for that feeding.”
Feeling singled-out and fearing she’d done something wrong, Ms McLaughlin shared that she was “confused and uncomfortable” looking around to see who was watching and who might have reported her.
“[Breastfeeding women] whether you’re covered or not covered, everybody should have the right to do what’s best for their nursing relationship with their children,” Ms McLaughlin said in a Facebook live video posted to her page.
The mother-of-two added that if she’d heard the message over the loudspeaker six years ago as a first time mum, struggling with breastfeeding, she would have burst into tears.
Furious, Ms McLaughlin subsequently spoke to a member of staff who informed her that “Yeah, IKEA prefers you to [breastfeed] privately”.
Not satisfied with this initial response, Ms McLaughlin spoke with a customer service manager, Anders, who advised her that the message was “a loop” and was not played on purpose when she began feeding her baby.
“I said well that’s weird because I had just started to nurse her and the music stopped and came on and it said nothing else but that nursing mothers have the bathroom available to them to go nurse privately,” Ms McLaughlin wrote, adding, “If you ask me it sounded like just another way to tell me to go nurse privately without someone coming up to me to say it personally.”
Sharing that none of her fellow nursing mum friends had ever heard the message before when shopping at IKEA, Ms McLaughlin added, “It left me in shock and confused and it really wasn’t nice. And if I take you at your word, then did IKEA think through how that message would come across to moms who are walking around nursing? And it also brings unnecessary attention to them especially if it were to be crowded? Florida law allows me to breastfeed in public. Period!”
Ms McLaughlin also uploaded a picture of the designated feeding area in the IKEA store – another mum labelling it “insulting” and “gross”.