In the exhausting first weeks of life with a newborn, a shopping trip can feel like a huge undertaking for a new mom.
For Connecticut mom Jessie Maher, an outing to Target with her 4-week-old daughter, Zinnia, turned especially stressful after a man began yelling at her for breastfeeding in the store’s cafe area.
Maher says while she paying for her items, Zinnia started crying. So the new mom hurried to finish the transaction and sit down with her daughter to breastfeed.
“I plopped myself down and started feeding her right away… I was just sort of minding my own business — just sitting there — when the man turned around and saw me,” Maher told TODAY Parents. “He started talking to me and yelling at me. He said, ‘Do you have to do that here? Can’t you go somewhere else? Can’t you cover up?'”
The man then began swearing at Maher.
“He just got louder and louder,” said Maher. “And angrier and angrier. It got kind of scary. The only thing I said to him at that point — really the entire time — was, ‘I am feeding my baby. I have the right to be here.'”
“I really do feel like this needs to be talked about,” said Maher. “People need to know that I’m not the only mom that’s been attacked for breastfeeding. He’s not the only man who has attacked a mom for breastfeeding… There’s too much shaming of women for all of their choices — too much attacking of moms.”
Maher says she hopes the video brings awareness to the need for women to stop judging one another and to instead show each other support.
“If you see a mom being attacked for anything — even if it’s just a choice she’s making about how she will feed her baby or where she will give birth — stick up for her,” said Maher. “She’s made a choice and it has nothing to do with anyone else… Mamas have to stick up for each other.”
Maher says baby Zinnia finished nursing in the Target cafe that morning, and took a peaceful nap afterward.
“She kept nursing until she passed out. I didn’t move. I didn’t kick her off the boob. I didn’t cover up,” said Maher. “I kept doing exactly what I was doing and she ended up passing out and sleeping the whole car ride home, which was exactly what I was going for.”