'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.

health equity (10) media analysis (5) Donald Trump (2) childhood obestiy conference (1) Oglala Sioux (3) Merck (1) abortion (1) product safety (1) Texas (1) auto safety (1) news monitoring (1) SSBs (1) gun control (2) Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (2) gun violence (1) social media (2) Happy Meals (1) default frame (1) diabetes (1) cancer prevention (1) women's health (2) soda tax (11) racism (1) collaboration (1) Citizens United (1) news coverage (1) Nickelodeon (1) HPV vaccine (1) cap the tap (1) gatorade bolt game (1) regulation (2) chronic disease (2) Bill Cosby (1) Wendy Davis (1) ssb (1) filibuster (1) marketing (1) prison phone calls (1) obesity prevention (1) FCC (1) Sam Kass (1) apha (2) San Francisco (3) media advocacy (21) new year's resolutions (1) digital marketing (2) government intrusion (1) communication (2) language (6) social change (1) inequities (1) violence (1) beverage industry (2) Twitter for advocacy (1) Michelle Obama (1) cervical cancer (1) sports drinks (1) Telluride (1) media (7) Sandy Hook (2) diabetes prevention (1) Proposition 29 (1) Joe Paterno (1) sugar-sweetened beverages (2) water (1) Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (1) snap (1) sexual assault (1) children's health (3) obesity (10) personal responsibility rhetoric (1) cancer research (1) tobacco tax (1) food (1) Tea Party (1) alcohol (5) structural racism (1) campaign finance (1) physical activity (1) messaging (3) corporate social responsibility (1) democracy (1) Catholic church (1) elephant triggers (1) junk food (2) childhood lead poisoning (1) prison system (1) Golden Gate Bridge (2) sexism (2) Chile (1) Richmond (5) news strategy (1) Food Marketing Workgroup (1) youth (1) stigma (1) Big Soda (2) public health data (1) naacp (1) Johnson & Johnson (1) adverse childhood experiences (3) food industry (4) tobacco (5) SB-5 (1) measure N (2) cosmetics (1) sanitation (1) Twitter (1) child sexual abuse (5) seat belt laws (1) soda (12) Marion Nestle (1) soda taxes (2) junk food marketing (3) genital warts (1) paula deen (1) food environment (1) food deserts (1) suicide prevention (2) water security (1) health care (1) prevention (1) framing (14) white house (1) public health policy (2) Big Food (2) Jerry Sandusky (3) Rachel Grana (1) ACEs (2) industry appeals to choice (1) El Monte (3) childhood trauma (3) Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes (1) Coca-Cola (3) Oakland Unified School District (1) social math (1) mental health (2) news (2) environmental health (1) McDonald's (1) built environment (2) sexual violence (2) sugary drinks (10) beauty products (1) SB 1000 (1) online marketing (1) personal responsibility (3) Newtown (1) childhood adversity (1) privilege (1) community safety (1) Proposition 47 (1) weight of the nation (1) target marketing (7) sexual health (1) front groups (1) nanny state (2) paper tigers (1) indoor smoking ban (1) food swamps (1) Big Tobacco (3) equity (3) food marketing (3) violence prevention (8) Bloomberg (3) gender (1) community violence (1) junk food marketing to kids (2) election 2016 (1) Aurora (1) california (1) food and beverage marketing (3) SB 402 (1) social justice (1) childhood obesity (1) suicide barrier (2) soda industry (4) news analysis (2) Gardasil (1) media bites (1) Amanda Fallin (1) community health (1) race (1) public health (66) Penn State (3) vaccines (1) Whiteclay (4) community organizing (1) tobacco industry (2) world water day (1) liana winett (1) journalism (1) cigarette advertising (1) Pine Ridge reservation (1) American Beverage Association (1) summer camps (1) education (1) Berkeley (2) authentic voices (1) advocacy (3) PepsiCo (1) Connecticut shooting (1) george lakoff (1) institutional accountability (1) political correctness (1) suicide nets (1) Let's Move (1) Measure O (1) Dora the Explorer (1) food access (1) values (1) emergency contraception (1) sandusky (2) breastfeeding (3) reproductive justice (1) choice (1) Colorado (1) food justice (1) tobacco control (2) healthy eating (1) soda warning labels (1) autism (1)
  • Follow Us On Facebook
  • Follow Us On Twitter
  • Join Us On Youtube
  • BMSG RSS Feed

get e-alerts in your inbox: