Mommie Dearest: On Breastfeeding In Bars

Sometimes it feels like moms who breastfeed in public can’t catch a break. Or, in the case of a Virginia mother, a few sips of beer.

A woman identified as “Crystal” was thrown out of Big Woody’s Bar and Grill for drinking a beer while she nursed her baby. Crystal says she only had one sip before beginning to feed her 11-month old and was going to drink the rest once she finished nursing. Before she was able to, however, a handful of other customers complained and she was asked to leave the restaurant by management. According to the bar’s co-owner, Jeff Leroy (who was not present at the time of the incident), the issue was less with the breastfeeding and more about the drinking of alcohol.

Can we please stop with this bullshit faux-concern? We’re not talking about a woman who was slamming back shot after shot before nursing her child. This was a woman who had taken one sip of beer, and even if she had downed the entire glass of beer, it wouldn’t have affected the milk her baby was drinking at the same time. It takes anywhere from a half-hour to an hour for the alcohol you drink to make it into your breastmilk. Science! But apparently those who were really worried about the baby probably don’t care much for things like facts. The general rule of thumb when it comes to drinking alcohol as a nursing mom is to treat your baby like your car. If you’re sober enough to drive, then you’re sober enough to breastfeed.

Newsflash: Women drink. Mothers drink. Breastfeeding mothers drink. And it’s A-OK when done in moderation, obviously. I don’t think anyone is saying that breastfeeding mothers should get sloppy drunk, but let’s use some common sense and stop trying to micromanage and criminalize every behavior of pregnant or post-partum moms.

 I still remember when a friend and I went to a pub for a drink and some food when our babies were almost six-months-old. It was then end of a very long week, teething was in full effect and we were exhausted and a little cranky ourselves. Both of our husbands worked long, erratic hours, and we just wanted some down time. We strapped our babies onto our backs and headed to one of our favorite bars downtown, snagging a patio table. A beer each and some duck confit nachos later and we were already starting to feel better. At one point or another each of us had nursed our own baby before they both passed out (from their own milk buzz, not the beer!). As we got ourselves ready to leave, our waitress came up to us, all apologetic, before handing us a note from another customer who penned a scathing takedown of the two moms with babies at the bar. He wasn’t man enough to tell it to our faces, but had no trouble berating us via napkin note. All we could muster up in response was a laugh and an eye roll.

Getting all up in arms because a mother had a sip of beer — or heaven forbid an entire pint — while breastfeeding is Puritanical at best and sexist at worst. And it feels more like an excuse to demonize and a woman for breastfeeding in public, as is her legal right, than anything else.

Mothers get judged for pretty much every action. I’m not surprised to hear Crystal’s story, as it’s just another example of society’s love/hate relationship with mothers: we need you to raise our next generation, but we will point out every poor choice we feel you make, even when it doesn’t concern or affect us. I truly hope Crystal was able to go home, put this awful experience behind her, and drown her “sorrows” in a bottle of her favorite brew.

[New York Daily News]

Read more from Avital Norman Nathman at The Mamafesto.

[Image via Shutterstock]