Julia Wykes brought her 5-month-old baby to Starbucks early in the morning. She'd planned on getting a drink to go, but her little boy became fussy so she sat down for a moment to tend to him. There weren't very many seats available, so the one she chose was close to the cash register.
And out of the blue, a customer went to the front counter to complain — about her.
"She said in a very loud voice (I was obviously meant to hear), 'Could you get that woman to stop doing that in public? It is disgusting,'" Wykes tells us. And after the barista looked over and told the woman he'd take care of it, Wykes began bracing herself for an argument. "Not just about the fact that breastfeeding is a legally protected right in Ontario, but also that surely a nursing mom is better than a screaming baby!" she says.
Instead of telling her to cover up or leave, the young man of 18 or 19 approached with a smile on his face and offered Wykes a free refill. He also gave her a voucher for a free drink the next time she stopped in. He apologized that she had to deal with such unpleasantness, and the complaining customer left in a hurry.
Thrilled at the turn of events, Wykes quickly shared her story with Starbucks and a friend in her local attachment parenting group — who also happens to run the very popular website and Facebook page, PhD in Parenting.
"At first I was flabbergasted by the woman's response to public breastfeeding," says Wykes. "To have a young man be more kind and informed than a middle-aged woman who may have had children herself was a shock. And while it may be a huge multinational company, I am glad that such a positive experience occurred in a Starbucks, it shows that they employ good people."
Breastfeeding in public stories don't always have a happy ending, but I'm happy to see that this one did. "I just hope that experiences like this can show women that nursing in public is normal. If you are hungry when you're running errands, you eat," Wykes says. "Why should we think that our babies are any different?"
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