Brock Smith is dining in a restaurant with his family when his daughter, Everly, decides that she wants to eat, too. But Everly can’t eat whatever’s on the menu; she needs the milk only her mother, Lauren, can provide. After a few failed attempts to latch on, however, Everly is getting frustrated. Dad’s attempt to help and empathize quickly became a viral video.
Brock hails from Naples, Florida, where he lives with wife Lauren and their two kids. At the time of this particular incident – in July 2016 – the couple’s first child, Elliot, was three years old, while Everly had only been around for two months.
And just like they did with Elliot, the pair decided that it would be best to breastfeed baby Everly. However, this has not always come easily to Lauren. “The anxiety with nursing in public… was so real that [Lauren] hardly ever left the house,” Brock told People magazine in July 2016.
Lauren’s stress levels were probably not helped by the fact that her partner worked at a high school. Indeed, it seems that the couple felt some pressure to be particularly conservative in this regard just in case they should bump into any students from Brock’s classes.
There was another reason the couple were especially attuned to breastfeeding being such a hot topic, too. The Smiths run fitness groups that are attended by many mothers and mothers-to-be who are past, present and future breastfeeders. And, of course, there are no shortage of (in Brock’s words) “horror stories” around this subject.
For instance, in June 2016, just a month prior to Brock and Lauren’s story, mom Jessie Maher was breastfeeding her daughter in a Target cafeteria. Then, she claimed, a man asked her to leave the area while telling her that what she was doing was “disgusting.”
Elsewhere in the world, Jamie Deane from New Zealand said in December 2017 that she had been asked not to use public transport while nursing her child. She claimed the driver told her, “You can’t be breastfeeding on a bus. That’s just wrong.” She was so upset by the incident, she said, that she almost began to cry.
Interestingly, a poll run on survey website Debate.org found that around one in three respondents were against breastfeeding in public. Why? Well, it seems that it mostly comes down to a small number of recurring arguments. Indeed, some feel that breastfeeding is equivalent to indecent exposure, while others believe that it could invite harassment or sexual assault.
Some objectors, according to Debate.org, claim that breastfeeding in public could make people uncomfortable or that it is an intimate act best done in the home. A further argument cited was that breastfeeding was illegal in certain states. For the record, however, currently 49 states have laws that support women breastfeeding wherever they choose.
For Brock, though, arguments against public breastfeeding simply don’t hold up. “Something that is so beautiful and natural has been tainted by society and over-sexualized media – and there is an obvious double standard,” he told People magazine. And his viewpoint has been supported elsewhere online, too.
Indeed, in June 2015 Kristina Kuzmic released an ironic YouTube video entitled “4 Reasons Women Should NEVER Breastfeed in Public.” In it, she also challenges society’s supposed double standards. “We don’t live in a society where it’s okay to just show part of your breasts or cleavage in public,” she says over a clip of a Victoria’s Secret poster.
So Brock felt that the “asinine” debate had gone on long enough – and decided to do something about it. On the day in question, then, he and his family had decided to go out for something to eat. But this being a Florida summer, the “evening was abnormally hot,” according to Brock.
In fact, Brock claimed to ABC News, “The day the video was taken, it was 104 degrees.” But as Lauren didn’t feel comfortable breastfeeding openly, she placed daughter Everly under a cover to give her some privacy. After a little while, however, it became clear to the family that Everly was not happy with this set up.
Brock later told ABC that he felt the reason for Everly not latching on was that “she was so hot underneath the blanket.” And it seems that his wife agreed with him. After all, Brock told People his wife said, “Well, Brock, would you like to eat underneath a blanket?”
And what was Brock’s response? “Trying to find the fun in everything, I threw a blanket over my head for the rest of my meal and dessert,” he told People. Fortunately, Lauren had the presence of mind to record the entire scene, and later the video made its way on to Facebook.
In the clip, Brock is shown with a cover across his face while he attempts to eat and drink. “I wish I didn’t have to eat with a blanket over my head,” he says. “Maybe I should just go sit in the toilet. I can’t see anything.”
When the video was shared by Breastfeeding Mama Talk, where it has been viewed more than 190,000 times, it came with a caption from Brock. “We are just so passionate about breastfeeding moms and [their] selflessness,” he wrote. “For people to be ignorant enough to harass a mother trying to have a normal life while breastfeeding a child just infuriates us.”
The post appeared to strike a chord with commenters, too. “Yay! Love it when men take a passionate stand as well,” one person wrote. “There’s nothing more natural and beautiful about a mother nourishing a baby,” opined another.
In fact, Lauren told ABC that it just proved what a caring husband she has in Brock. “For him to have this platform now to show other men, and other people, ‘Hey, this is what it takes,” Lauren said. “It makes me happy that other people see what a great guy I have.”
And as for Brock, he feels that the message he’s put out there matters. “We know there are moms that are very anxious trying to breastfeed out in public,” he told ABC. “We’re not saying cover up. We’re saying just do what you want to do and feel comfortable doing it.”