Sitting in a restaurant, surrounded by people, Ashley Kaidel fed her son. The trouble for one fellow diner was that Kaidel was giving her 6-month-old milk from her uncovered breast at her table.
But as the diner glared at the Florida mother of two “with disgust,” according to Kaidel, the 24-year-old didn’t cower. She stared right back in defiance — and then fired off a Facebook post complete with a photo from the upsetting encounter that has gone viral urging other nursing moms to stand strong against shaming for public feeding.
“In the picture, it appears I’m staring off into the distance,” writes Kaidel in her Nov. 24 post, which has been liked a staggering 383,000 times. “In reality, I’m staring into the eyes of a woman staring at me. She is looking at me … and shaking her head with judgment in an attempt to shame me and indirectly tell me without words that I am wrong and need to cover myself.”
Kaidel, who has since created the Intactalactivist Mama Facebook pagefor breastfeeding moms, continues to explain that she isn’t speaking out to say, “Everyone should breastfeed without a cover. Show the world your boobs!” but to support the moms who choose to do so in the face of “nasty comments” and requests that she “leave the room” or cover up.
“Breastfeeding mothers are protected under federal law to breastfeed any way, any how, and anywhere they’re allowed to be in all circumstances otherwise,” she writes, adding, “You should not ever feel shamed, belittled, embarrassed, or wrong for feeding your baby the way nature intended … [Breasts’] sole purpose is to make food and dispense it straight into a baby’s mouth. There is nothing weird about this and there’s no difference in me feeding my baby with my breast than you feeding yourself with a spoon.”
If someone has an issue with witnessing a child breastfeeding, Kaidel implores, “just look away.” She adds, “It is exponentially unfair and selfish to ask a mother and baby to exclude themselves from a table or event or gathering because you’re for some reason uncomfortable with how she feeds her child. No person should be isolated and shunned because they’re eating, especially when you yourself are eating while ridiculing how someone else is eating.”
The mother, who signs off as “a badass breastfeeding (uncovered) mama,” is passionate about nursing because the ability has been hard-won. Kaidel was able to breastfeed her 4-year-old daughter for only two weeks (because of what she now knows was her daughter’s “severe lip tie”) and endured a number of setbacks with her son including his tongue-tie and her mastitis, before he was able to begin successfully breastfeeding. “My sweet, patient boy and I have been through way too much to ever be anything other than proud of our breastfeeding journey and will never be shamed into hiding in a bathroom stall,” she declares in a Nov. 28 post on Intactalactivist Mama. “We worked HARD to be able to breastfeed and bond.”
With her viral photo and message, Kaidel declares, she simply wants to “give mamas encouragement. And to encourage others to make breastfeeding mothers feel accepted and supported; not alienated, ridiculed and judged.”