I Was Shocked By What the Pharmacist Did When I Breastfed in Public
The following post was submitted by our EverydayFamily community member, Elizabeth Creekmore. We're glad to be able to share her story with you. If you have a story of your own to share, please contact us here.
It happened on October 29th of 2015.
My daughter NovaLeigh was 6 weeks old at the time and still exclusively breastfed. I entered my local CVS with my fiancé, Michael, and my 3 children to receive my flu shot from the pharmacy. We walked directly to the back of the store where I signed in at the pharmacy and was told my wait time would be approximately 20 minutes due to the pharmacist needing to finish filling some prescriptions.
My family and I all took a seat in the pharmacy waiting area. As we were waiting my daughter NovaLeigh became hungry, so I did what I had done any other time she became hungry: I fed her. I had a nursing tank top on as well as a hooded sweatshirt. I lifted my sweatshirt and nursed my daughter. My fiancé actually stood in front of me while holding up my daughters blanket just to ensure we had privacy.
The pharmacist came over while I was still feeding and asked which arm I preferred, I took my left arm out of my sweatshirt (while still feeding, but covered from the rest of my sweatshirt that was still on) and the pharmacist proceeded to give me my flu shot. I put my arm back through my sweatshirt and that was it! We left.
I never felt like I was being put under the microscope or shamed while I was in the store. Nova is my 3rd child and I have breastfed my children on demand when they were babies, no matter where we were at the time. I am tasteful about nursing and firmly believe it is a natural and beautiful thing between a mother and her baby.
I was later contacted by a CVS employee and told that herself and the pharmacist not only discussed the anatomy of my breasts (whether or not they looked fake, how large they were, and that the fact that my breasts may have looked fake made the pharmacist extremely uncomfortable), but also watched surveillance footage of me from the whole time I was in the store with the pharmacist after I had left. She went on to tell me what I was doing in CVS from the minute I walked in the door. Telling me that my “breast was exposed for all to see from the minute I walked through the doors”.
I was OUTRAGED! I was shaking as I was taking all of this information in. I felt so many emotions; to say it was an overwhelming moment is by far an understatement. I couldn't wrap my mind around why two women would do something so unexplainable. How they could turn something so pure and innocent into something so perverted and inappropriate. I was mortified! I felt beyond violated and my heart ached for my daughter. This was medical personnel that I am supposed to be able to confide and trust in. To sit and watch surveillance footage of a mother breastfeeding her daughter while you are on the clock is mind blowing. Who gave these women access to do so? Why did the pharmacist engage in conversations regarding her patient with other CVS employees? I have so many questions of my own that have gone unanswered.
I took legal action the day after this information was brought to my attention, on January 31st 2016. My gut, my heart, my mind, every part of me was telling me that this was wrong in so many ways! I know that my incident is unique, but I also know that there are thousands of other breastfeeding mothers who have been shamed or discriminated against for just wanting to feed their babies. I feel as though I need my voice to be heard for breastfeeding mothers everywhere, for the babies who are pointed at by society and told to eat in dirty bathroom stalls or under hot blankets. We as humans have been breastfeeding since the beginning of time.
I believe that CVS needs to reconsider their company policies and educate their employees thoroughly on matters such as this. I applaud both Target and IKEA for making great strides in support of breastfeeding mothers and publicly announcing so.
I have learned a lot through this journey. I have learned that one should always stand up for what they believe in even if the odds are against you. I have so much passion in my heart for what I am fighting for. When it comes to our children I believe mothers will fight till the end and a mother needing to fill the hungry tummy of her baby in public in the form of breastfeeding is something I will fight for on behalf of breastfeeding moms and children everywhere.
Everyone is of course entitled to their own opinion concerning breastfeeding in public, and for that I have respect. However, I do feel as though if one does not agree, the solution is simple – don’t look or just walk away. The negativity and bashing is so unfortunate.
I could speak on this topic until I ran out of words but I would like to end this by saying that I applaud and respect every breastfeeding mother. Breastfeeding can come with several obstacles and challenges that we as mothers face on a daily basis that we push through. To feel society’s pressure to stay home, cover up, nurse only behind closed doors ‘or suffer the consequences' saddens my heart and I truly hope that my story will make a positive impact for future breastfeeding moms everywhere.