By Morgan Davy
BELLEVILLE – Canadian law protects women’s right to breastfeed where and when they feel necessary. It does not, however, protect them from the opinions of others.
Rachel Normington-Michell was walking through the Quinte Mall nursing her three-month-old daughter when security approached her with a complaint.
The guard informed Normington-Michell that a shopper had expressed disapproval to a mall employee, who then called security.
Normington-Michell said she was both embarrassed and confused and did not understand where the complaint had come from. She was wearing a nursing cover that concealed almost all of her child.
“I think people always give you a second look when they notice the baby’s feet, and then they realize, ‘oh she’s feeding her baby.’ It doesn’t faze most people,” she said.
Alexandra Benjafield, general manager of the mall, said it is mall protocol to follow up with every complaint but action is not always needed. In this case the individual guard decided to find Normington-Michell and inform her of what had been said.
“He took it upon himself to be a intermediary and communicate that to her. At no time did he say what she was doing was inappropriate or asked her to stop. We certainly don’t have any type of policy here with respect to breastfeeding,” said Benjafield.
Although many people don’t seem to react to a nursing woman, there still seems to be a small percentage that views it as something that should be done behind closed doors, said Normington-Michell.
“I think it’s just important for people to be educated that it’s a natural thing and women should be allowed to feed their baby wherever they choose,” she said.
Benjafield stressed that the concerns of one shopper do not reflect the mall’s view.
“We’re a very family-friendly place,” with family washrooms and a nursing room, said the manager.
“We’ve got free emergency diaper kits. So there are all these customer services we provide to make families comfortable here.”