A mom was asked to leave the "pit" area of a Brad Paisley concert at the Sleep Train Amphitheater in Chula Vista, California, Thursday night. Initially it appeared as if her breastfeeding rights were violated, as she claimed the request came because she was nursing her child. But police say she was asked to leave to protect the hearing of her 4-month-old, who they say was dangerously close to the speaker system.
Photo credit: rolfo/Moment/Getty Images

You may have already heard of Megan Christopherson, the breastfeeding mom who was asked to leave the pit area of a Brad Paisley concert at the Sleep Train Amphitheater in Chula Vista, California. She claims she was only asked to leave because she'd been openly nursing her 4-month-old, who was being carried in a Tula baby carrier. After her video was posted online, breastfeeding support pages all over the internet started clamoring for a nurse-in, requesting support for a mama who'd been violated, and basically looking for blood. But, as with the story of Gratia Cash, who was asked to stop nursing in a public swimming area, things aren't always as they first appear.

A video's worth a thousand words

The crowd is going to start surging forward. Where you're at, your child could get crushed.

In Megan's YouTube video (which has since been removed), you see her escorted outside by a police officer. Once outside, the officer tells her she's being asked to relocate for the safety of her child. "Your child doesn't have hearing protection on. We're afraid of your child's eardrums being hurt. The crowd is going to start surging forward. Where you're at, your child could get crushed." Megan was offered a seat somewhere away from the speakers and safe for her children. She declined relocation, and instead accepted the offer of a refund. But she didn't leave quietly. First, she said she'd had her kids at concerts before, so she didn't understand why she couldn't now. Then, she claimed discrimination, saying she was asked to stop nursing and photographed by event security. Next, she requested badge numbers and the name of the person in the district attorney's office who said having a child at a concert was endangerment. When she finally left she refused the officer's offer to walk her out, saying she didn't want to be carted through the audience like a criminal.

The next day Megan was interviewed by local news, playing up the breastfeeding issue she claims she experienced with security. "I'm shocked. I'm disgusted at our society that women are shamed into nursing in bathrooms or their cars or feeding their baby a bottle only, because they're scared to nurse in public," she told a local station. "I trust my motherly instinct that if my baby's ears hurt, she would cry, and then I would move. She was sleeping contently."

My biggest concern? Hearing protection.

It is highly likely Megan's baby wasn't asleep because it was content, but because (s)he just couldn't take any more.

Here's the thing though — just because a baby is sleeping through loud noises doesn't mean they are fine with them. Many babies "shut down" when overstimulated — whether by light, movement or yes, sound. Avoidance of overstimulation is such a concern for infants that it is even one of the reasons it is recommended you don't face your baby away from you in baby carriers — having them facing you gives them a way to hide should they feel as though the world around them is too much. It is highly likely Megan's baby wasn't asleep because it was content, but because (s)he just couldn't take any more.

Thin skulls = more noise

According to the Women's and Children's Health Network, infants are more susceptible to hearing damage from loud noises because of the thinness of their skulls. The average noise level at a concert is 85-100 decibels, with outdoor concerts peaking at 122-146 decibels. The recommended noise level for babies? Sixty decibels. And Megan's children had on zero hearing protection at all. The police weren't that off-base when they suggested she was endangering her children by having them there, right next to the speakers. They were speaking common sense truth.

Learning language is key

Left undetected, mild or unilateral hearing loss can result in delayed speech and language acquisition.

Loss of hearing is tragic at any age, but for infants it is exceptionally disruptive. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: "Left undetected, mild or unilateral hearing loss can result in delayed speech and language acquisition, social-emotional or behavioral problems, and lags in academic achievement." Language acquisition is one of the most important things for a child — it's why parents are told the best thing they can do is talk to their baby nonstop. It encourages the growth and development of brain pathways and synapses, which only occur in the first three years of life.

But what about her nursing rights?

Megan claims she was approached by a female security guard and asked to stop breastfeeding. She claims she was photographed by the security guard as well, and the police are citing concerns for her kids' safety as a "cop out" and to "cover up" for them actually violating her breastfeeding rights. If I thought for one minute this was the case, I would be her most ardent champion, but I just don't see it.

She was at a loud concert, in the pit area, with her 8-year-old and 4-month-old children. Neither had hearing protection. Should a "crowd surge" such as the officer suggested happen, her kids' safety was absolutely a concern. She was offered a seat in a safe area, which she refused. And when all else failed, she claimed a violation of her rights. If I sound judgmental, it's because I'm judging. She should have never had her kids there without appropriate protection for their ears; baby earmuffs are inexpensive and easy to find. Shame on her for endangering her kids that way, and shame on her for tainting the cause of breastfeeding moms in the process. No one should ever attempt to deflect their poor parenting choices onto the actual discrimination nursing mothers face every day.

More on breastfeeding controversy

Why Victoria's Secret wasn't as wrong as you might think
Bob Evans offends nursing moms, but makes it right
Drinking then breastfeeding lands a mom in jail

Topics: