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Mother speaks out after being shamed for breastfeeding in restaurant

A mother was breastfeeding her son at California Pizza Kitchen at Partridge Creek when she says a manager asked her to cover up.

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Syma Chowdhry
CLINTON TOWNSHIP, MICH. — A mother was breastfeeding her son at California Pizza Kitchen at Partridge Creek when she says a manager asked her to cover up.

It's a story we first told you about Monday.

Now for the first time, that nursing mom is speaking out in an exclusive interview.

Ashlie Hanel explained,"I don't know why we have to be so negative when you should just support each other and say 'you know what, you're doing the best you can do.'"

Ashlie was at the California Pizza Kitchen last Friday night.

She says it was pretty empty because the mall was already closed and they were sitting in a booth.

Before they could even order, 7-month-old Jameson became hungry, so she started to nurse him.

"I try to be conservative. I try to be discreet."

A few minutes later a manager approached her.

"She came over and asked me to cover up. She was actually like, 'can you put a napkin or I can put a towel over you and your son,'" she explained. "I felt very put on the spot."

Ashlie stopped nursing and decided to leave.

"As I was walking out, I heard some people snickering including other employees at the restaurant."

She was extremely upset about the incident.

"I could feel, I'm kind of getting teary right now, I could feel tears building up because I was mad."

Restaurant representatives publicly apologized for her experience and say they welcome breastfeeding moms.

Forty-eight states, including Michigan, have laws protecting mothers who nurse in public.

"Our breasts are made for to feed our children."

Ashlie explained the incident on Facebook.

She said the positive responses were overwhelming, especially from other nursing moms.

One woman sent her message, writing: "I'm so happy you stood up. I haven't left my house in four weeks, I just had a baby."

In fact, Ashlie says her doctor told her not to stay cooped up at home because that could contribute to postpartum depression.

"A lot of moms feel they have to stay home and they can't be comfortable in public with their newborn. You're going to be sad all by yourself in your house. Go out and have fun and enjoy life with your baby."

Some of the negative comments said to cover up or nurse in the car.

"Every time somebody asks me that question I say 'why don't you do that next time you want to eat your food.'"

Some said to do it in the restroom.

"It's not sanitary either, why would you want to sit in the bathroom?"

Days after her experience, she said it was wonderful to see headlines about a new mom nursing on the runway.

"I thought that was amazing."

Ashlie just took professional pictures in hopes of normalizing public breastfeeding.

"This is what nursing is. This is it beautiful and this is it raw."

For anyone who is uncomfortable with it, she said,"Look the other way, educate your children if they are uncomfortable. This is normal."

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