Breastfeeding Mom Gets Coldhearted Letter From Family Orchard After Being Told to Cover Up

breastfeeding momThere are laws in place protecting a mother's right to breastfeed in public, but laws are broken all the time, as Marissa Olivera found out when she was visiting a family-friendly establishment she frequents and was told to cover up even though she was already breastfeeding discretely. What's worse, days later she received a horrible response from the owner.


The notion that breastfeeding is obscene is ridiculous, and most of us fully support nursing mothers. We all want babies to be able to eat when they are hungry -- it's truly as simple as that. It's natural. But there are some who only see breasts as sexual objects and therefore discriminate against and harass moms who are doing what's natural and needed.

It's disheartening that this happened to Olivera, and she is sharing her story on her Facebook page in hopes to make changes.

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This issue (which shouldn't at all be an issue) began when she was visiting Fly Creek Cider Mill in late November. The Mill appears to be a sweet farm stand–type place with hayrides for the kids, a marketplace, a bakery, and a restaurant in Fly Creek, New York, just outside of Cooperstown. Olivera was breastfeeding her 4-month-old son while he was in a baby carrier and she stopped to chat with one of the employees whom she came to know over the years since she visits often. Olivera wrote in a letter to Fly Creek: "[Nancy] peered into my baby carrier and saw that I was nursing my four month old son. She told me that I needed to cover up and that last time we were there, I had (apparently) angered other customers by doing the same thing."

Olivera noted that she was being discrete and that if Nancy hadn't made an effort to look closely into the baby carrier she was wearing, she would have never known Olivera was breastfeeding. She went to speak with a manager, and while pleasant, the manager confirmed that there had been customers in the past who were upset with Olivera nursing her baby at the family orchard. Olivera was told that Fly Creek needed to respect others' wishes and so that's why she had to cover up.

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Olivera and her family left, but this situation stayed with her because she did nothing wrong and yet was made to feel as if she did. She was shamed and humiliated. Let it be known that New York State was the first state to have a law that protects a breastfeeding mother. It states:

1994 NY ALS 98; 1994 NY LAWS 98; 1994 NYSN 3999 79-e Right to Breast Fed. Not with standing any other provision of law, a mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether or not the nipple of the mother’s breast is covered during or incidental to the breast feeding.

Olivera wrote a letter to Fly Creek to let them know that breastfeeding mothers should be welcome at their establishment and stated how she no longer felt welcome there anymore. Fly Creek wrote back to her with a cold two-sentence response.

Signed by H. William Michaels, the vice president and owner, the letter states: "Thank you for your letter of November 28. I have addressed your concerns with the staff and we regret that you will no longer be a visitor to our Mill."

My family and I very, very regularly visited the Fly Creek Cider Mill. One of our favorite activities for sure, until a...

Posted by Marissa Fiorentino Olivera on Wednesday, December 16, 2015

No apology. No feeling or understanding or kindness in this letter. Fly Creek made no effort to keep one of their loyal customers just because she was breastfeeding at their Mill, which she was protected to do by law. This to me is saying that Fly Creek does not support nursing mothers. Instead of making an effort to correct where they went wrong, they continued in the wrong direction with a cold and heartless response.

It's shocking that something like this happened. It shouldn't have happened. But people do make mistakes and I was willing to forgive the business if they went forward doing the right thing. But they did not. They are basically saying that that breastfeeding mothers are not welcome there, and as a result, others who have learned about what happened to Olivera are saying they will no longer visit Fly Creek either. This wasn't exactly a good PR move by the Mill. Did they not realize this isn't something that would be quietly swept under the rug?

Let's talk about what should have happened. The owner H. William Michaels, Nancy, and the manager should have gotten together to talk about what is right, as in the law. They should have come to realize that they should be ashamed of themselves for humiliating a person who was a customer (meaning, someone who helps keep them in business and adds to their revenue, and therefore salaries) -- a customer who was simply feeding her baby and was protected by law to do. They should have stopped and realized how preposterous it would be if they asked a 5-year-old enjoying one of their apple cider donuts with their grandmother to also put a cover over their heads while they eat. No one should have to eat under a blanket, just like no one should be told to have lunch in the bathroom. They should have apologized for upsetting Olivera and her family. They should have welcomed her back, realizing their mistake, and perhaps even created a comfortable spot for mothers who may want to sit down to nurse their babies while they are at the Mill with their families.

They did the opposite. It appears they are facing quite the backlash.

Let's hope they educate themselves. Let's hope this educates other business. Let this empower breastfeeding mothers (all mothers) who are all doing a wonderful job feeding their babies wherever and whenever they are hungry.

UPDATE: A new, heartfelt response was made by the President of Fly Creek Brenda P. Michaels on their Facebook page in response to Olivera's incident. She welcomed Olivera and her family back, and made sure to let everyone know that breastfeeding is welcome at the Mill, as she breastfed her own children there when they were young. Thank you, Brenda.


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