Where and when to breastfeed has been a historically polarizing subject, but one American mom has ignited fierce debate after she was pictured nursing onboard a ride at Disney World‘s Epcot theme park.
Meredith Barnyak, a mother of two from Pittsburgh, was visiting the Orlando, Fla., park with her family, and was eager to expose her children to the magic of Disney. Barnyak told Today she and her children — Graham, 3, and Poppy, 1 — as well as her husband, mother and stepfather had been enjoying rides in the park.
While riding the Frozen Ever After boat ride, Barnyak said her infant became squirmy.
“She would just pull on my shirt and I thought, ‘OK, it’s dark out. We’re all humans. We’re all honestly going to enjoy the ride a lot better, and you’ll be happier being fed,’” Barnyak explained to Today.
As Barnyak was breastfeeding her daughter, she noticed a flash signalling that an in-ride photo had been taken of her and her fellow riders.
“As soon as I saw the flash, I was like, ‘Oh no, I think all these people have a picture of (me) breastfeeding my baby on this ride,’” she laughed.
With her permission, Barnyak’s cousin, Jo Goddard, shared the photo to Instagram for followers of her lifestyle website, Cup of Jo.
“My cousin @meredithbarnyak being an absolute MOM on this Disney ride,” Goddard wrote in a simple, emoji-filled caption.
Slowly, Goddard’s post received more and more attention, igniting a debate about whether Barnyak should have been breastfeeding her child on the attraction.
The Frozen Ever After ride is a slow-speed log ride that features “small drops,” according to the Disney website.
Some concerned commenters scolded Barnyak for bringing her baby on the ride at all (though Disney has certified the ride for all ages, with no height requirement).
“Not to be a stick in the mud but this seems…kinda dangerous?? Am I overestimating the thrill level on this ride? The rest of the adults seem to be clinging on pretty tight!” one commenter wrote.
Several more commenters chided Barnyak for being immodest.
“Beyond attention seeking…and honestly rude, so the other people on the ride are stuck with this photo of you with your boob out? Nice,” another social media user wrote.
Others complained that Barnyak “ruined” the photo for other riders who may have wanted to purchase the memory. Barnyak told Today she is a mother who is comfortable breastfeeding wherever and whenever her child needs to feed.
“I am a pretty big proponent of any way you can feed your baby you should be able to do it — in any place,” she said.
Barnyak isn’t alone in the sentiment. Many came to her defence and voiced similar arguments.
“I nursed babies on many rides in Disney World. Any ride without a seatbelt is safe,” one mom said. (The Frozen Ever After ride does not use a lap bar.)
“This is great. She’s holding onto that baby tight. The frozen ride is one of my favorites. Fed all my kids on these little boat rides,” another echoed.
Barnyak is still an advocate for breastfeeding safely in public and said she would never nurse her child on a roller-coaster, despite what many on social media seemed to believe.
Like many parents, Barnyak left the Disney vacation with great memories, but not exactly well-rested.
“It was a lot of fun, but that’s probably one of the most exhausting vacations I’ve ever been on,” Barnyak said. “Maybe we’ll go back when Poppy’s 3 or 4 to see her experience with it.”
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