'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.


industry appeals to choice (1) messaging (3) ACEs (2) violence (2) news analysis (3) Happy Meals (1) Twitter for advocacy (1) sports drinks (1) environmental health (1) Big Tobacco (3) ssb (1) personal responsibility (3) obesity prevention (1) junk food marketing (4) political correctness (1) election 2016 (1) prevention (1) product safety (1) emergency contraception (1) cancer research (1) vaccines (1) cervical cancer (1) water (1) beauty products (1) sexual health (1) sexism (2) Chile (1) california (1) seat belt laws (1) reproductive justice (1) social justice (1) FCC (1) communication strategy (1) Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (1) SSBs (1) healthy eating (1) weight of the nation (1) online marketing (1) news (2) Penn State (3) sexual violence (2) youth (1) Let's Move (1) community safety (1) physical activity (1) race (1) Telluride (1) health equity (10) campaign finance (1) Big Food (2) SB 1000 (1) Johnson & Johnson (1) junk food (2) Whiteclay (4) news monitoring (1) media bites (1) regulation (2) Donald Trump (2) Jerry Sandusky (3) Nickelodeon (1) Black Lives Matter (1) media (7) public health data (1) Richmond (5) values (1) social change (1) Michelle Obama (1) Tea Party (1) food access (1) Bloomberg (3) El Monte (3) diabetes (1) Oakland Unified School District (1) soda warning labels (1) authentic voices (1) institutional accountability (1) Merck (1) food (1) racism (1) food justice (1) white house (1) community (1) breastfeeding (3) framing (14) collaboration (1) childhood lead poisoning (1) Dora the Explorer (1) marketing (1) world water day (1) Newtown (1) new year's resolutions (1) news strategy (1) Sam Kass (1) media analysis (5) Connecticut shooting (1) tobacco tax (1) soda tax (11) Catholic church (1) equity (3) soda (12) abortion (1) gun violence (1) sugary drinks (10) genital warts (1) McDonald's (1) food and beverage marketing (3) Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (2) Aurora (1) digital marketing (2) Amanda Fallin (1) social media (2) Proposition 47 (1) food deserts (1) Measure O (1) diabetes prevention (1) liana winett (1) violence prevention (8) Colorado (1) Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes (1) suicide prevention (2) chronic disease (2) sugar-sweetened beverages (2) community violence (1) auto safety (1) indoor smoking ban (1) autism (1) education (1) mental health (2) childhood trauma (3) Rachel Grana (1) community organizing (1) Texas (1) childhood obestiy conference (1) choice (1) water security (1) food swamps (1) food industry (4) suicide nets (1) soda taxes (2) beverage industry (2) alcohol (5) Pine Ridge reservation (1) nonprofit communications (1) safety (1) george lakoff (1) corporate social responsibility (1) prison system (1) SB 402 (1) tobacco (5) Food Marketing Workgroup (1) sanitation (1) HPV vaccine (1) women's health (2) paper tigers (1) public health policy (2) snap (1) Twitter (1) advocacy (3) gender (1) Wendy Davis (1) Oglala Sioux (3) media advocacy (22) filibuster (1) naacp (1) food marketing (4) Berkeley (2) built environment (2) food environment (1) government intrusion (1) junk food marketing to kids (2) sexual assault (1) PepsiCo (1) measure N (2) cannes lions festival (1) obesity (10) public health (68) cap the tap (1) summer camps (1) Citizens United (1) health care (1) cosmetics (1) children's health (3) Joe Paterno (1) suicide barrier (2) cigarette advertising (1) tobacco control (2) child sexual abuse (5) nanny state (2) tobacco industry (2) target marketing (8) gatorade bolt game (1) democracy (1) Big Soda (2) San Francisco (3) Golden Gate Bridge (2) community health (1) Sandy Hook (2) American Beverage Association (1) front groups (1) default frame (1) Proposition 29 (1) soda industry (4) Bill Cosby (1) stigma (1) inequities (1) Coca-Cola (3) elephant triggers (1) apha (2) language (6) SB-5 (1) paula deen (1) gun control (2) cancer prevention (1) Marion Nestle (1) communication (2) adverse childhood experiences (3) Gardasil (1) childhood adversity (1) childhood obesity (1) personal responsibility rhetoric (1) social math (1) sandusky (2) structural racism (1) privilege (1) prison phone calls (1) journalism (1) news coverage (1)
  • Follow Us On Facebook
  • Follow Us On Twitter
  • Join Us On Youtube
  • BMSG RSS Feed

get e-alerts in your inbox: