Do you believe there are wedding rules that a breastfeeding mother should follow? Is a wedding so sacred that breastfeeding shouldn’t be allowed or should be hidden from sight?
(I know this image has gone viral and several blogs have posted on it. Well, Ceara LaFrance is my friend and I wanted to make sure her entire story was being heard, since not everyone has stated all of the facts. Also, all images were supplied to me directly from Ceara LaFrance).
I had the privilege, not only interviewing Ceara LaFrance but, being witness to the information before Ceara decided to share the controversial images, thanks to our weekly playdates and us being members of the same local birthing center Facebook group (where she originally posted the images and received help editing them together on September 16, 2017, the day after Ceara and her husband attended the wedding).
Let’s start from the beginning. On Thursday, June 8, 2017, Ceara, her husband, Justin, and friend, Bren Melton, were at the LaFrance home. (Bren was at the LaFrance home, not only as a friend, but as Ceara’s doula. Ceara was in labor with her second daughter). After checking the mail, Justin quickly opened the invitation, knowing it was important since he was to be the best man. A pink slip of paper fell out of the envelope and he decided to read that first. It stated, “To all our mommies who are breastfeeding, we are thinking of you, we are sensitive to the fact you may need to breastfeed during our event, therefore we have designated an appropriate place for you to feed your baby so that you do not have to do so in public in front of our Family and Friends. For your convenience we are accommodating you with a comfortable and private area with chairs and baby blankets in the ladies’ room. We request that you use this area when you are breastfeeding. Thank you.”
Well, Ceara was already in labor, so she wasn’t feeling her best, but still, I think her reaction was fairly appropriate. Ceara was pissed! She believed the bride and groom had no right to request this, especially knowing by the time the wedding would come around Ceara would still have a frequent nursing infant. Ceara stated her first thought was, “What is she (the bride) going to do, stop everything in the middle of the wedding to stop me from nursing?” She was also shocked that despite how stressed the couple was preparing for the wedding, they took time to type the note.
Ceara did her best to put it out of her mind since she needed to focus on her labor. (However, I personally wonder if this emotional upset and distraction could have a tiny contribution to labor not progressing quickly and baby not being born until Monday, June 12, 2017. – This is just my own speculation and no comment from Ceara and Justin).
Justin and Ceara were fairly certain they were the only ones to receive the pink note in their invitation. The groom had previously mentioned to Justin for Ceara not to nurse during the wedding at all. So, I guess this was the bride and groom’s way of compromising.
After the baby was born, the bride had rolled her eyes and walked out of the house when Ceara was nursing her newborn openly in her own home, using the two shirt method (you pretty much can’t see anything while the baby is latched using this method).
Did you catch that? “In her own home.” The bride has such an issue with breastfeeding that she has to show disdain in the mother and child’s own house, the place where nursing should feel the most comfortable and freeing.
While at our playdate, the day of the wedding, September 15, 2017, Ceara asked Bren to wet-nurse the baby for her, while her and Justin attended the wedding. Bren was instantly willing to wet-nurse, but tried to talk Ceara out of it, trying to convince her to stand her ground and take the baby to the wedding. Justin even suggested that Ceara could raise her hand anytime she needed to nurse and he would make sure to sit with her. However, Ceara wanted to keep the peace and not cause any turmoil, since there was an easy solution to the nursing dilemma. Plus, though she was grateful for his support, she didn’t want to distract Justin from his best man duties and, making the most of an awkward situation, turned the event into a date night.
Ceara had an emotional night. It was the first time for her to be away from her 3 month old daughter. She also had high hopes of what the nursing area would be due to how nice the wedding was, thinking it might be a separate dressing area in the bathroom. Instead, when she finally made her way to the bathroom, Ceara’s already sensitive emotions were assaulted further by how the “requested” nursing area was set up. She was expecting a separate room with a comfortable chair and baby blankets (as mentioned in the note). Instead, the nursing area was directly in front of the TOILETS, to allow access to the stall doors in front of her she would have to sit sideways, and the chairs were uncomfortable folding chairs with no arm rests.
Let me explain why this nursing area was not appropriate in the least. First, you never set up a nursing area in a bathroom. This is not hygienic. Do you want to eat your food where toilet water is being spewed when people forget to put the lid down before flushing? (Read how illness can spread when lids are left up during flushing.)
Second, the nursing area should be set up in a way that make the mother comfortable. She shouldn’t have to worry about people banging into her or her child as they try to get in and out of the toilet stall. Also, the chairs should be comfortable and have arm rests. Without hauling around a bulky nursing pillow, lack of arm support and comfort is difficult on a nursing mother, especially with an infant who nurses for long periods of time and at a frequent rate.
Third, don’t supply blankets. That just makes you look like a jerk. I know, it is seen as kind and generous, but mothers that use blankets bring them with them. Not every mother or baby is comfortable under a blanket (my own son absolutely refused it and I needed to be able to fully see how he was latching at all times due to his severe tongue and lip ties causing a nipple only latch, which is way too shallow and needs constant readjusting). Supplying a blanket just enforces the message that breastfeeding is shameful and should be hidden. Therefore, placing the breasts back into the sexual category, instead of the nurturing category. If you are going to provide anything, provide water and maybe some cloth baby wipes. Nursing mothers tend to become very thirsty during a nursing session and the cloth wipes are great to wipe up any drool or leaks from the waiting breast.
At this time, Ceara believes she was the only mom invited with a child under one and possibly the only guest breastfeeding. By sending the note and setting up the nursing area in the bathroom the bride and groom were directing more attention to Ceara than need be. Even if she had decided to bring her child and nursed during the wedding and reception, less attention would have been given to her if she would have nursed where she was already situated than having to get up and make her way to the bathroom and sit in the “requested” nursing area.
This was a child friendly wedding. They even had a kid’s table where messes, bad eating habits, and noise were welcome; however, the feeding rights of an infant were frowned upon, even before this child was born.
Sadly, even after all of the publicity and support Ceara has gotten, certain family members still haven’t learned and continue their attempts at degrading her. She has been bashed for breastfeeding saying, Ceara “gets off on her child sucking her tits because her husband can’t due to having to work to support her lazy a**,” since she is a stay at home mom. While another female family member worries that her husband will see Ceara nursing and have sexual thoughts. First, these women aren’t showing any kindness and love like family members should. Second, STOP SEXUALIZING BREASTS!!! Breasts, hands, and mouths can all be used in sexual and nonsexual ways. Are we asked to cover up our mouths and hands when utilizing them in other natural ways? No, we aren’t! We shouldn’t have to cover up our breasts in order to keep perverts from sexualizing them. Perverts are going to sexualize whatever their sick little minds feel like, no matter what we are wearing or doing.
Let’s go back to the pink note: “To all our mommies who are breastfeeding, we are thinking of you, we are sensitive to the fact you may need to breastfeed during our event, therefore we have designated an appropriate place for you to feed your baby so that you do not have to do so in public in front of our Family and Friends. For your convenience we are accommodating you with a comfortable and private area with chairs and baby blankets in the ladies’ room. We request that you use this area when you are breastfeeding. Thank you.”
Why do I have issues with this note?
- “We have DESIGNATED an APPROPRIATE place for you to feed your baby” means that all other areas are not appropriate to breastfeed in.
- “So that you do NOT have to do so in PUBLIC” means that the bride and groom feel breastfeeding is not appropriate in public.
- “Our Family and Friends” means that the WANTS of the bride and the groom outweigh the NEEDS of a baby.
- “Baby blankets in the ladies’ room” shows that breastfeeding should be hidden away and is equal to that of someone using the toilet.
- “We REQUEST that you use this area” continues to emphasize that breastfeeding should not take place anywhere else. This is the rule for attending the wedding with a baby.
If you are going to set up a breastfeeding area and send a note, do not make it forced. Make it a courtesy you are offering nursing mothers, if they so choose to accept it, and never have it be in a bathroom. You never know a mother’s comfort level or needs. When I was starting out, I needed my husband’s help with nursing. He helped me latch without fully flashing everyone, made sure I was comfortable, got me anything I needed, and even helped me switch sides when I was too weak to do it on my own. Being forced to use a bathroom, where he would not have access would have made my nursing situation even more stressful than it already was.
One thing Ceara wants to make clear is that posting the pictures was NOT about shaming the bride and groom, in fact Ceara hasn’t disclosed their names. She shared the pictures because she wants to keep other couples from making the same mistakes. The fact that the nursing area was in the bathroom and not set up in an appropriate way is not acceptable. Ceara also feels this could have been handled better if the bride had talked to her in person, instead of writing the note.
Ceara wants to raise awareness that it is 2017 and breastfeeding shaming is still happening. She said, “You can’t dictate where I feed my child. Don’t request and demand I feed my child in a set up area and don’t put it in the f****** bathroom.” There is no appropriate time or place for a baby to feed, it happens where and when they are ready. Mothers should also not be forced to stay home with their child, just because our society has led people to sexualize breasts and have perverted thoughts when they see a baby nursing. If Ceara had chosen to push her point of view and taken the baby with her, would the bride and groom had rather the baby being continually crying, getting louder and louder, interrupting the ceremony until Ceara was capable of getting to the designated nursing area, or would they have rather the baby cry and Ceara automatically offer her breast, instantly providing the milk and comfort the baby was needing?
[10/4/17 Edit: Yes, the couple does not have children or know what breastfeeding is like. This is why Ceara has repeatedly tried to keep their names out of it and wanted to use this to help educate others. She has not stooped to name calling or bashing them, only presenting the facts.]
Please share. We need more people to know that this type of wedding “request” and nursing area is not appropriate and degrading to breastfeeding mothers. I might have sent them my article, “Dear Stranger, MY BREASTS ARE NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!”