As a mom nursed her newborn in a cafe, her first time breastfeeding alone in such a public setting, she braced herself when an older woman approached. But instead of a scolding, the stranger surprised her with a sweet helping of motherly love, cutting her eggs so she could enjoy breakfast while it was hot.
The simple, yet touching gesture earlier this week that allowed Briar McQueen to eat as she fed her baby left the 22-year-old first-time mother near tears and filled the eatery (and the Internet) with smiles.
RELATED: Mom shares two 'revealing' photos to prove point about breastfeeding
“She was taking care of me the same way my mother would,” McQueen, who lives in New Zealand, told TODAY by email. “She made me feel so comfortable and accepted, that's why I just wanted to cry, especially because of the way everyone else looked and smiled at what she was doing.”
McQueen was so moved that she snapped two photos, one of her helpmate and another of herself nursing her son, Jaxon. She posted them on Facebook and described their brief encounter in a post that has drawn praise hundreds of thousands of times over.
“Today was the first time I went out for breakfast alone with my 8-week-old son,” she wrote in her post. “I had just received my breakfast and hot chocolate when Jaxon started crying wanting his booby so of course I fed him. After a few minutes this older lady walked up to me. I was scared, thinking she was gonna tell me to put my boob away. Instead she starts cutting up my breakfast for me and said, ‘What a good mama you are, we can't have your food getting cold can we.’”
A grateful McQueen ate with one hand while holding her nursing son with the other. The woman smiled and rejoined her friends at their table “like it was nothing,” McQueen said, adding that she didn't get the woman's name.
“I thanked her over and over and began to well up and had to fight back tears,” she said. “She had no idea how much that meant to me!”
“She genuinely thinks nothing of what she did,” she added. “That's what makes her good deed so pure and selfless.”
McQueen, who lives in the town of Mount Maunganui, had been nervous that Jaxon might wake up and need to eat at the cafe.
“I hear so many stories of mothers being verbally attacked and judged for breastfeeding in public,” McQueen said. “I never really fed in public myself. I would usually go back to my car but because I had my food and hot chocolate already there, that wasn't an option.”
RELATED: Mom's breastfeeding photo tells story of struggle and love for twin daughters
Though she fed Jaxon as discreetly as she could, when the woman walked over, she was afraid. “I automatically assumed she was going to tell me to cover up more or make a negative comment about me exposing my breast in public,” she said.
McQueen hopes her positive experience inspires others to give parents a helping hand.
“I would love nothing more than for people (male or female) when they see a mother or father struggling in public to jump straight in without hesitation or fear of rejection and just help!” McQueen said. “Whether it be helping load groceries into the car or pushing the shopping cart around the supermarket, anything really, our automatic reaction should be to help one another without a second thought, and we need to raise our children to do this too by setting an example.”
"We also need to normalize breastfeeding by giving the negative breastfeeding comments and stories no attention," she added. "Just ignore the haters and focus on the positive stories and support one another."
TODAY.com contributor Lisa A. Flam is a news and lifestyles reporter in New York. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.