'Nurse-in' shows need for more breastfeeding support

printer friendlyprinter friendly

Breastfeeding in public is making headlines yet again. But before you get too excited, it's not the fanfare of exposed celebrity bosoms that had people talking a few years ago.

This time a nursing mom in Texas made national news when she tried to breastfeed her child in a Houston area Target store. Michelle Hickman found an out-of-the-way space in the women's section to nurse her baby. Yet despite Target's corporate policy that supports a woman's right to breastfeed anywhere in the store, staff at the store asked her repeatedly to move to a dressing room to nurse. For a variety of reasons, Michelle didn't want to have to relocate, leave her cart full of items unattended and be made to feel as if she were doing something wrong. She knew her rights and let the staff know that they were out of line in asking her to move.

Outraged, Michelle used Facebook to help organize a nationwide Target "nurse-in" to hold Target and other retailers accountable for protecting women's right to nurse in public if they so choose. I was proud to participate in the nurse-in at the Emeryville, Calif, Target nurse-in, where we thanked the management there for protecting our right to nurse on site.

But, as well-intentioned as the events were, the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth. First, why thank chain stores for upholding rights that are already on the books, rights that protect our desire to nourish our children in the best possible way? It's 2012, after all, and we know about the benefits of breastfeeding. Are we really still having this conversation?

Apparently, yes. In spite of laws in 45 states that protect a woman's right to breastfeed in public, and 28 states with laws that protect women from public indecency claims, many retail stores, restaurants and other public spaces do not respect these rights. Women are asked to move, leave or are threatened with indecency claims. Well then, it's no wonder that despite a desire to breastfeed among more than 80% of new moms, nationally, less than 12% of women breastfeed exclusively for six months, as organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and World Health Organization recommend.

What's more troubling still is that the majority of women participating in Emeryville -- and in the other nurse-ins as well, from what the news reports show -- are middle class white women who have the time or flexible work schedules to bring babes in arms to a mom-friendly demonstration at 10 a.m. on a weekday. The fact that the face of the nurse-ins was what TIME Magazine called "smiling, middle-class mommies" means that low-income women of color, the women most likely to abandon breastfeeding due to lack of support in hospitals and workplaces, were barely represented at the events.

News coverage of breastfeeding is important and I was glad to see the media attending to it. We need more reporting on the barriers to breastfeeding in public spaces and in workplaces. One recent BMSG study shows that this part of the story doesn't appear as often as it could.

Women are better able to start and sustain breastfeeding when the places in which they give birth, work and shop encourage it. When retail sites and other public spaces discriminate against nursing women, women are more likely to abandon efforts to breastfeed, especially low-income women. Hospitals, retail stores, restaurants and other public spaces need to comply with state laws that encourage breastfeeding and protect a woman's right to breastfeed in public. Policies that make it easier for all women to breastfeed will lead to healthier mothers and babies and a healthier society overall.

social media (2) Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (1) Sandy Hook (2) mental health (2) food justice (1) seat belt laws (1) authentic voices (1) tobacco tax (1) Richmond (5) junk food marketing to kids (2) suicide prevention (2) george lakoff (1) Whiteclay (4) healthy eating (1) Bloomberg (3) Chile (1) Happy Meals (1) Coca-Cola (3) environmental health (1) food swamps (1) Tea Party (1) community (1) adverse childhood experiences (3) suicide nets (1) beverage industry (2) california (1) racism (1) San Francisco (3) social change (1) Donald Trump (2) childhood obestiy conference (1) Johnson & Johnson (1) Oakland Unified School District (1) Oglala Sioux (3) prison system (1) auto safety (1) Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (2) news coverage (1) language (6) product safety (1) diabetes prevention (1) alcohol (5) apha (2) world water day (1) sugar-sweetened beverages (2) media advocacy (21) Measure O (1) choice (1) children's health (3) target marketing (7) Dora the Explorer (1) SB 1000 (1) Rachel Grana (1) violence prevention (8) sexual health (1) ACEs (2) SB 402 (1) personal responsibility (3) chronic disease (2) Newtown (1) social justice (1) food and beverage marketing (3) soda tax (11) sandusky (2) sexual assault (1) education (1) SSBs (1) cigarette advertising (1) Connecticut shooting (1) sugary drinks (10) food deserts (1) genital warts (1) violence (2) Colorado (1) safety (1) health care (1) regulation (2) indoor smoking ban (1) community health (1) stigma (1) social math (1) emergency contraception (1) collaboration (1) cancer prevention (1) physical activity (1) marketing (1) Amanda Fallin (1) gatorade bolt game (1) obesity prevention (1) SB-5 (1) child sexual abuse (5) food access (1) vaccines (1) Merck (1) paper tigers (1) public health policy (2) junk food marketing (3) sexism (2) community safety (1) Food Marketing Workgroup (1) Michelle Obama (1) public health data (1) communication (2) obesity (10) Pine Ridge reservation (1) paula deen (1) Wendy Davis (1) white house (1) Sam Kass (1) news monitoring (1) Berkeley (2) prevention (1) Gardasil (1) soda warning labels (1) Twitter (1) Big Soda (2) race (1) tobacco (5) junk food (2) weight of the nation (1) snap (1) elephant triggers (1) advocacy (3) front groups (1) Big Tobacco (3) structural racism (1) ssb (1) health equity (10) news analysis (3) Golden Gate Bridge (2) Nickelodeon (1) Big Food (2) reproductive justice (1) cervical cancer (1) community organizing (1) youth (1) media analysis (5) values (1) food marketing (3) tobacco control (2) summer camps (1) industry appeals to choice (1) childhood lead poisoning (1) political correctness (1) naacp (1) prison phone calls (1) cap the tap (1) soda (12) campaign finance (1) soda taxes (2) measure N (2) news (2) women's health (2) cancer research (1) Aurora (1) messaging (3) gun violence (1) Marion Nestle (1) childhood obesity (1) digital marketing (2) personal responsibility rhetoric (1) childhood trauma (3) Joe Paterno (1) McDonald's (1) Twitter for advocacy (1) built environment (2) democracy (1) corporate social responsibility (1) FCC (1) Proposition 47 (1) soda industry (4) default frame (1) framing (14) tobacco industry (2) El Monte (3) abortion (1) HPV vaccine (1) news strategy (1) institutional accountability (1) food (1) equity (3) food industry (4) sports drinks (1) sanitation (1) inequities (1) Catholic church (1) sexual violence (2) water security (1) food environment (1) filibuster (1) media bites (1) suicide barrier (2) Bill Cosby (1) Texas (1) liana winett (1) American Beverage Association (1) beauty products (1) diabetes (1) public health (67) election 2016 (1) Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes (1) Telluride (1) Let's Move (1) cosmetics (1) PepsiCo (1) online marketing (1) Proposition 29 (1) Black Lives Matter (1) community violence (1) breastfeeding (3) Penn State (3) journalism (1) new year's resolutions (1) autism (1) gender (1) privilege (1) water (1) Jerry Sandusky (3) media (7) government intrusion (1) nanny state (2) childhood adversity (1) gun control (2) Citizens United (1)
  • Follow Us On Facebook
  • Follow Us On Twitter
  • Join Us On Youtube
  • BMSG RSS Feed

get e-alerts in your inbox: