'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.

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

get e-alerts in your inbox: