'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.


california (1) tobacco control (2) elephant triggers (1) PepsiCo (1) Joe Paterno (1) suicide barrier (2) regulation (2) structural racism (1) product safety (1) Jerry Sandusky (3) junk food marketing to kids (2) messaging (3) equity (3) tobacco industry (2) corporate social responsibility (1) health equity (9) news coverage (1) social math (1) education (1) media bites (1) sports drinks (1) SSBs (1) Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (1) news analysis (1) beverage industry (1) food access (1) food environment (1) soda tax (11) prison phone calls (1) social media (2) sexism (1) HPV vaccine (1) Amanda Fallin (1) sexual assault (1) cervical cancer (1) Happy Meals (1) childhood adversity (1) childhood obestiy conference (1) Penn State (3) food justice (1) obesity (9) soda (12) online marketing (1) junk food marketing (3) junk food (2) emergency contraception (1) george lakoff (1) measure N (2) cancer research (1) gun violence (1) diabetes prevention (1) Chile (1) apha (1) Richmond (5) soda industry (4) industry appeals to choice (1) cosmetics (1) suicide nets (1) Nickelodeon (1) Measure O (1) personal responsibility (3) childhood lead poisoning (1) communication (2) violence (1) gender (1) choice (1) Catholic church (1) advocacy (3) Oglala Sioux (3) Golden Gate Bridge (2) Proposition 29 (1) women's health (2) paula deen (1) gatorade bolt game (1) food deserts (1) Aurora (1) Bloomberg (3) media analysis (3) Johnson & Johnson (1) Bill Cosby (1) cigarette advertising (1) Texas (1) framing (11) SB 402 (1) weight of the nation (1) prison system (1) environmental health (1) institutional accountability (1) health care (1) childhood obesity (1) naacp (1) San Francisco (3) physical activity (1) food (1) Whiteclay (4) food marketing (3) summer camps (1) marketing (1) adverse childhood experiences (2) seat belt laws (1) FCC (1) Marion Nestle (1) Sandy Hook (2) Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes (1) sexual health (1) digital marketing (2) Big Soda (2) social justice (1) sandusky (2) Newtown (1) indoor smoking ban (1) Rachel Grana (1) public health data (1) government intrusion (1) alcohol (4) autism (1) new year's resolutions (1) McDonald's (1) Tea Party (1) chronic disease (2) target marketing (7) beauty products (1) cap the tap (1) Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (2) violence prevention (7) mental health (2) breastfeeding (3) healthy eating (1) Colorado (1) nanny state (2) Citizens United (1) public health (60) Michelle Obama (1) genital warts (1) food industry (2) Merck (1) sexual violence (2) abortion (1) media (5) race (1) world water day (1) ssb (1) sugar-sweetened beverages (2) food swamps (1) Wendy Davis (1) Twitter for advocacy (1) childhood trauma (2) snap (1) default frame (1) Coca-Cola (3) Dora the Explorer (1) tobacco tax (1) community safety (1) El Monte (3) stigma (1) collaboration (1) inequities (1) Connecticut shooting (1) Food Marketing Workgroup (1) American Beverage Association (1) filibuster (1) community health (1) news (2) social change (1) child sexual abuse (5) Sam Kass (1) white house (1) sugary drinks (9) built environment (2) Pine Ridge reservation (1) SB-5 (1) values (1) youth (1) sanitation (1) ACEs (2) diabetes (1) soda warning labels (1) Let's Move (1) auto safety (1) suicide prevention (2) media advocacy (18) obesity prevention (1) gun control (2) SB 1000 (1) privilege (1) Big Food (2) Gardasil (1) liana winett (1) water security (1) language (6) tobacco (4) cancer prevention (1) vaccines (1) water (1) news strategy (1) community violence (1) Berkeley (2) public health policy (2) front groups (1) prevention (1) Telluride (1) Oakland Unified School District (1) reproductive justice (1) Twitter (1) food and beverage marketing (3) campaign finance (1) Big Tobacco (3) children's health (3)
  • Follow Us On Facebook
  • Follow Us On Twitter
  • Join Us On Youtube
  • BMSG RSS Feed

get e-alerts in your inbox: