A mother used to getting dirty looks for breastfeeding in public instead got a free pizza from a supportive waitress.
“My husband had this weird grin on his face and he showed me the receipt our waitress gave him. It said, ‘I bought one of your pizzas…please thank your wife for breastfeeding,” Jackie Johnson Smith, 33, of Akene, Iowa, told ABC News.
Smith was enjoying her birthday dinner at Fong’s Restaurant in Des Moines on Sunday with her husband and three sons, ages 4, 3, and 1, when her youngest started to get a little fussy.
“I tried occupying him with various toys, but he wasn’t relaxing. So I decided to nurse him. I grabbed a cover from my diaper bag, threw it on, and started nursing him in the booth,” Smith said.
“We were in a corner of the restaurant where nobody could really see us, but when the waitress came over she noticed me nursing and she gave me this look,” Smith continued. “I immediately started stressing out.”
“I thought, ‘Is she thinking that I shouldn’t be doing this now?’ I was just trying to keep my son happy and calm for others in the restaurant,” Smith said.
When Smith’s son started fussing again she decided to go back to the car with him and wait for her husband and older sons to handle the check.
Meanwhile, Smith’s waiter, Bodi Kinney, 33, of Des Moines, was trying to figure out a way to show Smith her appreciation.
“As soon as I saw her nursing in the restaurant, I was in awe. I immediately thought, ‘Right on!’ Kinney told ABC News.
“She really lit up my night,” Kinney said. “Without making a big scene or making her uncomfortable, I really wanted to thank her for breastfeeding and tell her I supported her.”
But before Kinney could think of something, Smith and her son had left the restaurant.
“That’s when I decided that I would pay for one of the pizzas she ordered,” Kinney explained. “So I paid for the pizza, and wrote a quick note on their receipt. I told the husband to thank his wife for me.”
“I was a nursing mother too, and we really need the support,” Kinney said.
Smith was speechless when she read Kinney’s note.
“I kept reading the note over and over and over again in shock,” Smith said. “I teared up, I was emotional. I have breastfed for five years, on and off, and I never got such positive affirmation for what I was doing.”
Smith was touched by the show of support.
“Breastfeeding can make you feel so vulnerable. I was amazed at her kindness and how she went above and beyond to make me feel comfortable and accepted,” she said.
Smith’s past experiences with breastfeeding have not always been as pleasant.
“I’ve been stared at, given dirty looks. People said ‘There are places for that,’” Smith said. “With my first child I really felt the pressure and fear. I hid in the car whenever I had to breastfeed.”
“Now I just do it. I realized I have to be rooted in my convictions,” Smith said. “I truly believe breastfeeding is the right thing to do. I’m giving nutrition to my babies, it has no bearing on anyone else.”
Smith, who also uses cloth diapers, says she prefers “going back to the basics.”
“Breastfeeding is not black and white. I absolutely encourage it. However any mother, whether they work or stay at home, breastfeed or use formula, knows what is best for her family and children.”
“And every mother just should trust that,” Smith said.