Mom Told to Stop Breastfeeding at Mall, Records Incident on Facebook

Ashley Cooper says she was asked to stop breastfeeding at a mall in Virginia even though the request was illegal. (Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Cooper)
Ashley Cooper says she was asked to stop breastfeeding at a mall in Virginia even though the request was illegal. (Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Cooper)

A mother asked to stop breastfeeding at a busy mall is speaking out on Facebook.

Ashley Cooper, a mom in Richmond, Va., visited the Short Pump Town Center, an outdoor mall, on April 8 so her children could see the Easter Bunny. When her 8-month-old daughter started fussing, Cooper left her husband and her 3-year-old daughter waiting in line and went to a nearby nursing room. It was occupied, so the mom sat on a bench.

“While I was breastfeeding, a security guard approached and said, ‘You can’t do that here,’” Cooper, 29, tells Yahoo Beauty. “I was completely stunned, but I told her, ‘In the state of Virginia, I can breastfeed anywhere I’m legally allowed to be.’”

Cooper also decided to start recording the incident on Facebook Live. “I had no clue what would happen next, so I wanted to document everything,” she shares.

According to the mom, the security guard then radioed for backup, saying, “Someone isn’t complying” and was joined by a second guard. “In the meantime, two female shoppers asked me if they could get my husband,” says Cooper. “But I wasn’t about to lose our place in the Easter bunny line, so I said no. I just continued nursing.”

After she finished, Cooper told the mall’s customer service department about the incident and she received an apology, along with free tickets to the mall’s train ride. “Then we got ice cream and went home,” says Cooper.

It wasn’t until after she put her daughters down for their afternoon naps that Cooper checked the Facebook video, which currently has 101K views, more than 14K likes, and hundreds of supportive comments.

Yahoo Style could not reach a representative from the Short Pump Town Center for comment; however, the mall issued an apology to Cooper on her Facebook page and sent local news station WRIC a statement that read:

“We are very sorry for Ms. Cooper’s experience at our center. As soon as mall management was aware of the situation, the security officer was advised of the inappropriate way it was handled and all associates will receive additional training to ensure this behavior is not repeated. Short Pump Town Center’s policies aim to support our family friendly values and we will work to ensure nursing parents are treated with the utmost respect. We responded to Ms. Cooper’s complaint in person, with our apology, immediately after the incident happened as well as through a post on her page. Short Pump Town Center strives to offer a family friendly environment for shopping, dining and entertainment, and we will continue to find ways to enhance the overall appeal of the center in order for our guests to feel welcome.

“I’m not angry at the security guard,” Cooper says. “I just want businesses to train their employees better and for mothers to know their rights, whether they feed their babies by breast or bottle.”

Read more on Yahoo Style + Beauty: