Breastfeeding Mom Is Shamed at Starbucks, Gets Amazing Support from an Unlikely Ally
byKaitlin StanfordJul 02, 2014
When Julie Wykes popped into an Ottawa Starbucks last week for a quick coffee, the last thing she expected was to get shamed by another customer and wind up at the center of a now-viral breastfeeding story. But that's exactly what happened after her 5-month-old baby started getting cranky on line and she sat down to nurse him.
The good news is, at least this public breastfeeding story has a happy ending.
Though no one else seemed to pay Wykes any mind as she breastfed, there was one fellow customer who was not having any of it. As Wykes later described it, a middle-aged woman looked over at her in disgust and promptly walked up to one of the baristas to complain.
"Could you get that woman to stop doing that in public? It's disgusting," she reportedly said to the barista, who was later described as a man in his late teens.
He told the woman he would take care of it, but what he did next stunned even Wykes. He not only offered her a free refill on her coffee and a voucher for a future free drink, but he leaned over and said, "I'm sorry you had to deal with such unpleasantness today." Talk about a great kid!
While the new mom was completely humbled by the teen's empathy, the complaining customer was not — she apparently stormed out in a bit of a huff. "She kind of defeated her own purpose," Wykes later told The Huffington Post, "because she was the only one who had noticed I was breastfeeding, and she ended up calling much more attention to it than if she hadn't said anything!"
So touched was the mother that she took to her local parenting group's Facebook page to share the story, and to urge other moms to tip their barista the next time they popped into the Ottawa Starbucks. A few shares later, and her post wound up on Anne Urban's Facebook page for her blog, PhD in Parenting, and Wykes' story soon went viral.
Wykes herself has helped hundred of mothers breastfeed around the world, wile working as a midwife, though this was the first time she was ever shamed in public for feeding her baby. "In my personal experience," she explained, "usually people don't even notice when I'm nursing my son in public — you have to really be staring or catch me at just the wrong moment to see much exposed skin! I've had someone come over and stroke my baby's head without realizing he was nursing."
Though breastfeeding in public continues to be a topic of much debate, Wykes' personal stance on the matter is a simple one. "My opinion has always been: If your baby is hungry, feed him. It doesn't matter how or where, just make sure your baby is well fed and happy," she said.