Nova Scotia·Exclusive

Don't breastfeed son on job, N.S. mom warned

A Nova Scotia restaurant owner says customers complained about her breastfeeding, sparking a hygiene investigation.

'Separate yourself so that the patrons can't see you,' restaurateur warned

Breastfeeding warning

10 years ago
Duration 1:57
A Nova Scotia mother is speaking out after being cited by local health officials for breastfeeding in the restaurant she owns

A Nova Scotia restaurant owner says customers complained about her breastfeeding, sparking a food safety investigation.

Hannah Gibson,  who owns Rocco's Ristorante Italiano in Dartmouth, said when things get busy at the restaurant she'll pitch in even if her son Carson, who is just eight months old, is hungry.

"I was clearing a table while breastfeeding," she told CBC News.

A few days ago the restaurant received its second official letter of complaint in six months from Nova Scotia's food safety inspectors.

When the officer came to investigate, Gibson said, she asked him "how is this a food-safety issue? His response to me was, 'I don't know.  Maybe the complainant thought milk could get in the food.' "

Gibson said the inspector told her the complaint  "was very much an issue of public perception."

Carson often accompanies his mom Hannah Gibson to work at her restaurant. (CBC)

She said the officer then offered her some advice: "Really, in the future, if you can kind of separate yourself so that the patrons can't see you."

In a province where breastfeeding has been declared a human right, Gibson said, the investigation has left her feeling both embarrassed and angry. She said it's  frustrating one provincial department is handing out warnings while another provincial program promotes breastfeeding in public.

She said she is now looking for answers as to exactly what she did wrong.

The Department of Health supports several campaigns, including a promotional video called Make Breastfeeding your Business.

Gibson said inspectors told her if they continued to receive complaints that she is breastfeeding while working at her restaurant or handling food while doing it they will continue to investigate.

But she said until someone says otherwise, Carson will continue to accompany her to the restaurant.