Mom calls for protest over breastfeeding backlash
A mother who was recently told to cover up while breastfeeding is so outraged that she is organizing a ‘nurse-in' to draw attention to the issue.
Natalie Arsenault runs a small business out of a kiosk at the Moncton Farmer's Market every Saturday and her son Jacob often tags along.
Arsenault, a mother of four, is also a breastfeeding advocate and says she breastfeeds Jacob whenever he wants it. However, she was recently criticized for her actions.
"Well, last Friday evening I received an email from the Moncton manager of the city market," says Arsenault.
The email indicated that complaints had been made about Arsenault breastfeeding at the market and asked her to cover up while feeding her baby.
Arsenault isn't sure who made the complaint and she said she felt uncomfortable at the market the next day.
"I was just feeling a bit shy, timid, nervous," she says. "I had a little bit of anxiety going into the building, just wondering who is looking at me, who is talking about me."
The New Brunswick Human Rights Act protects a woman's right to breastfeed in public and states that it is discriminatory to ask a nursing mother to be more discreet.
The city has since stepped back from its initial warning, perhaps due to what is stated in the act.
"Nothing is going to happen here," says city spokesperson Paul Thomson. "We see this as an opportunity to educated, sensitize and do more to make our facilities and the Moncton market more friendly to nursing mothers and their babies."
Arsenault and other breastfeeding advocates are hoping a nurse-in will do just that. They plan to hold the event at the market this Saturday.
Arsenault also says it can be difficult for mothers to make educated decisions about breastfeeding because they often receive mixed messages.
"Everywhere you turn, public health, doctors, whoever, even culturally it is rammed down our throats, but don't do it in front of us," says Arsenault.
Naturopathic doctor Blossom Bitting agrees.
"If you have not been around a woman who is breastfeeding or been breastfed yourself, or have a sister, you see the breast and the nipple as something sexual," says Bitting.
Arsenault and her supporters say they don't intend to cover up at the nurse-in this Saturday, and the city says it has no problem with it.
With files from CTV Atlantic's David Bell