Breastfeeding in public is often a controversial subject, but one mom in Iowa happily found out that nursing a baby can be smiled upon by strangers.

Jackie Johnson-Smith recently visited a Des Moines, Iowa, pizza restaurant and, by the simple nurturing act of nursing her fussy baby, her waitress paid for one of the family's pizzas. Jackie, who went out with her family of five, noticed her 1-year-old child was cranky, so she took a minute to nurse him. Nobody seemed to notice — except her waitress, who thought the act was cool enough that she left a note on their receipt and comped them a pizza.

"Thank your wife for breastfeeding!"

Jackie-Johnson Smith breastfeeding in public receiptOften, when breastfeeding in public makes the news, it's not a feel-good story. There are so many incidents where a mother feeding her child is told to cover up, move to the bathroom or even leave the premises of a public place she is entitled to be — which is usually against the law, and often results in public backlash, potential nurse-ins and an eventual public apology by store management.

This story, however, is a sweet reminder that not everyone feels that nursing in public is inappropriate. The waitress, Bodi Kinney, wrote on the receipt, "I bought one of your pizzas… please thank your wife for breastfeeding!!"

On nursing in public

Breastfeeding a baby in public has, sadly, become a huge deal. A mother was told to move to the fitting rooms at Target and allegedly threatened with the charge of indecent exposure, a mom was kicked off a plane for breastfeeding her daughter and a mother was told to leave a water park, even though she was nursing under a towel. And these are just some of the reports that make the news — countless more mothers are harassed for attending to their child's basic need, which is a protected right in the U.S.

However, the news is not all bad. Fortunately, I have never personally known a mom in my local area to suffer any breastfeeding harassment, and I have never experienced it either. I have breastfed all four of my children in public, and nobody has ever given me a second look. I don't think that it's even noticeable most of the time.

My take

I'm thrilled that this mother was encouraged to nurse her baby by a perfect stranger. I know that Jackie felt great when she read the receipt. On the photo she shared on Facebook, she wrote, "I was speechless and emotional. Although I don't need a pat on the back for feeding my child, it sure felt amazing. It is amazing how we women can make each other feel when we empower each other."

I was speechless and emotional. Although I don't need a pat on the back for feeding my child, it sure felt amazing. It is amazing how we women can make each other feel when we empower each other.

I really hope that in the future, when my children are grown, that breastfeeding a baby will return to a state of normalcy and won't garner any attention at all, either positive or negative. I feel that the only way this can happen is if more moms breastfeed in public, and especially around children. The more children who grow up seeing nursing moms and babies, the less of an issue this will be when they are adults.

I do hope that breastfeeding mothers will look at the kind words of the waitress and feel encouraged to nurse their own little ones when they're out and about. I hope more employees in public businesses continue to accommodate nursing moms, which usually means leaving them completely alone while they are nursing their children.

Breastfeeding is the simple act of a mother feeding her baby, and it's uplifting to see a woman supporting another woman. I think we need more of that.

More on breastfeeding

Why is Instagram blocking breastfeeding photos?
Please, nurse your baby in public
Why breastfeeding a 3-year-old rocks

Receipt photo courtesy of Jackie-Johnson Smith