IKEA apologizes to breastfeeding mom after rude comment
Published Wednesday, March 12, 2014 5:02PM EDT
IKEA has apologized to a Kemptville mother who says she was treated rudely while breastfeeding her baby in the store. Brea Rehder claims a manager told her it was disgusting and told her to "take it to the bathroom." For a company that prides itself on being "family-friendly", this is not the kind of exposure IKEA wants. The Swedish furniture manufacturer says it's trying to track down who the employee was; in the meantime, it is reassuring moms that they are welcome to breastfeed anytime, anywhere.
Like all babies, when 9 month old Sloan is hungry or fussy, Brea Rehder breastfeeds her to calm her down. That's what Rehder did on Monday afternoon while waiting in line for an employee at IKEA to help her with a price check. She says, at first, the female worker glared at her.
"She came over to me and asked what my issue was,” says Rehder in her Kemptville living room, “and I was nursing Sloan because she was fussy. She said “when you're done being disgusting, go to bathroom, you’re holding up line.”
Rehder says she and her friend were shocked; then angry after she realized her 2 year old son, who also breastfeeds, heard the comments.
“It made me sad,” said Evan, as he sat on the floor playing with his toys.
Rehder says her son refused to nurse that night, said it was "yucky." She says she’s not looking for compensation from IKEA. She just wants an apology for her son.
“They could give me a whole makeover for my house but that would not make up for the psychological damage that’s been done to Evan.”
Isabelle Auclair is the store manager for Ottawa IKEA, “It's not acceptable which is why we're looking into it and who was involved.”
IKEA says it has apologized to the mother and is now trying to track down which employee it was.
“We’re taking it very seriously,” says Auclair, “because breastfeeding moms are welcome in the store anytime.”
That's been the experience of a group of nursing mothers who meet every Wednesday at a “breastfeeding café” in a west end store called “Milkface.” They chat as they nurse their babes, ironically, on IKEA furniture. Britt Pegan is the owner of Milkface.
“It's completely outrageous to hear this is happening in this day and age,” says Pegan, “especially at IKEA which is family friendly and in Ottawa which is breastfeeding friendly.”
"If this mother was bottle feeding,” adds mother Denise Wong, “I don’t' think there would have been any issue but this incident happened because she was nursing in public.”
“It's important for women to feel comfortable and to be able to breastfeed everywhere,” says mother Sonia Wesche, “because it's a human rights issue. Babies have a right to eat and women have a right to feed their babies.”
Redher says she has never had an issue at IKEA before.
“I don't blame IKEA. It’s just one employee, one ignorant comment.
She is, however, considering filing a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission as a strong signal to other companies.