A group of nursing mothers mothers plan to breastfeed en masse at a Hamilton food court Saturday after another mother was told to stop nursing there this week.
Nearly 75 people, many of them breastfeeding mothers, have indicated on Facebook that they’ll go to a mass "nurse-in" at 10 a.m. at the food court at The Centre at Barton.
Monika Skarratt said she was breastfeeding her baby at the food pavilion at the former Centre Mall when a security guard approached her and asked to stop nursing or leave.
“When I refused, stating I have a right to nurse there, I was told that this was private property,” she said.
After a tense conversation where Skarratt "worked very hard to maintain my demeanor and not lose my temper," she left with her husband, daughter and still-nursing baby.
The security guard in question was young and not informed about the right of mothers to breastfeed in the food court, said Wayne Roberts, general manager of The Centre at Barton.
Someone complained to the guard, Roberts said, and “he went the wrong way and was ill informed about the rules."
“We’ve apologized to the woman involved and she has accepted our apology.”
Roberts said he has informed the third-party security company and staff that women can breastfeed at the centre.
As for the breastfeeding moms, “if they want to show up (on Saturday), that’s their prerogative,” he said. “They’re welcome to come and have breakfast or lunch here.”
The "nurse-in" is not a protest, but an event aimed at educating the public that moms can nurse in public, Skarratt said. She recalls when she was nursing her older daughter in a store and the woman told her to do it at the "infant care room."
"I was a first time mom. I wasn’t sure about my rights," she said. "I wasn’t confident, so I went with it. As you grow as a parent, you kind of realized what’s important. Since I have two daughters, I find it absolutely crucial that people are educated that breastfeeding is simply a natural thing for parents to do."
Skarratt is "overwhelmed and happy" by the support generated from her Facebook posts, and the number of moms who plan to be there Saturday.
Roberts was supportive, Skarratt said, and she has no issues shopping at The Centre at Barton again.