SUNRISE, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida mother who believed she had been called out by IKEA management for breast-feeding her baby organized a “nurse-in” with fellow mothers, Thursday, in an effort to normalize breast-feeding.
According to shopper Amanda McLaughlin, while she was breast-feeding Hadassah, her 5-month-old daughter, in public, Tuesday morning, the music inside of an IKEA Home Furnishings, located at 151 N.W. 136th Ave. in Sunrise, suddenly stopped, and an announcement came over the P.A. system.
But it wasn’t an announcement on any specials that day.
The announcement let customers know that there was a nursing station on the first floor where mothers could breast-feed.
This, according to McLaughlin, left her feeling uncomfortable, singled out and ashamed for doing something that should be completely shameless.
“I was confused. I’d never heard a message like that, anywhere, ever,” said McLaughlin.
After the incident, she took to social media to organize a “nurse-in,” Thursday morning.
In less than 24 hours, the store reached out to her directly, explaining that the announcement was a prerecorded message played throughout the day on a loop.
“I really thought it was directed at me, initially,” explained McLaughlin. “The manager explained that it was not, that it was on a loop.”
The prerecorded message referred to a nursing station located inside a family restroom. “When you walk in, it’s a chair right underneath the biohazard box,” said McLaughlin, “where people do insulin, they have to prick their fingers for some blood.”
The store claims to be one of the most family-friendly stores in the world, and they encourage mothers to breast-feed openly. The store even offers free baby food to children and free disposable bibs at the restaurant.
“IKEA supports the mother’s right to breast-feed openly,” said IKEA spokesperson Claudia Lascano, “and at all IKEA stores, we support breast-feeding. We have baby care facilities where parents can unwind with their little ones. There’s soft seating available, and there’s a diaper changing station with free diapers, as well.”
Despite the misunderstanding, the store still offered to help McLaughlin organize the event, made complete with a complimentary breakfast. When Thursday morning came around, over 30 women, including McLaughlin, came together inside the IKEA to discuss the incident.
“Thanks for making the breast-feeding cause as important for you as it is for us,” Lascano told participants.
Although the incident was a misunderstanding, management took suggestions from the women on how to make their shopping experience more inclusive and enjoyable.
One of the complaints heard from some of the mothers was that the store’s breast-feeding station is not located in an ideal place to feed their children.
“There are women out there who feel ashamed and embarrassed to breast-feed in public,” said “nurse-in” participant Adina Pelicci, “so when we want to go sit and hide and not feel intimidated, it shouldn’t be under a box of needles or in a smelly bathroom.”
IKEA officials said they need the biomedical hazard waste drop for people with medical issues.
The “nurse-in” led to at least one heated exchange between a nursing mother and an IKEA employee. “It’s a public restroom. It is not a nursing area,” indicated one participant. “It’s not. Call it what it is.”
“It’s not about right or wrong,” said a male IKEA employee. “It’s about, what can we do better for our customers.”
The management team concluded the event by reassuring the women that they are welcome to openly breast-feed wherever they want in the store, not only in the restaurant. Store employees said they will take the participants’ concerns into consideration and hope to make some changes in the near future.
“I support IKEA, and in my personal experience, I’ve had no problems nursing in public here,” said nursing mother Kristen Deptula.
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