I live in Ohio – 1 of 44 states that have laws in place to protect the rights of mothers who breastfeed. Recently, a local mother made headlines because she staged a nurse-in at a shopping mall near my childhood home to educate others about the right to nurse in public. Her idea to organize the nurse-in was spurred by a personal incident a week prior in the same mall where she was approached by a female security guard and asked to cease nursing her 15-week old daughter because other mall patrons had complained.
The nurse-in, organized by Rhonda Bell of Huber Heights, was attended by dozens of breast feeding mothers, along with fathers and families at the Mall at Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek Sunday, Feb. 20th. The gathering was to raise awareness about breast feeding rights. She stressed it was not a protest.
As a mother who breastfed both of her children, I know how difficult it can be to get the hang of nursing, but then also to cope with the challenge of running errands or leaving the house when you have a young baby that may require feeding while out and about. I commend Rhonda for her action and hope that her message spread some positive information on the right to breastfeed.
However, I have to admit, I usually sought out a family restroom or quiet place – even in a mall – when my babies got hungry. That was partially because I was shy about my boob popping out and partially, because I needed to get my head in the zone, in order to get the milk flowing. Sure, it’s not always possible to do that so when all else fails you have to whip it out.
To take this to another level of thought, does public perception of breastfeeding change based on the age of the child nursing? I’d say, “absolutely.”
There are some mothers who breastfeed beyond infancy. Do the laws protect a women’s right to nurse a toddler or older child in public?
It looks totally different to see tiny baby booties peeking out from a discreetly draped blanket than it does to see some Addidas size 4 sneakers hanging off the teet.
Admittedly, I stopped breastfeeding long before my Biz e-Babies had enough teeth to bite my nipple off or wear cross-trainers. I did the best I could for as long as I could, but with working a full-time job and other nursing challenges I had, my children each stopped breastfeeding after about four months and we switched to a mix of pumped milk and formula. Minus those factors, I probably would have been willing to continue strictly nursing for a year.
When a kid is old enough to ask you to nurse or walk up to you and grab the boob, I get a little turned off watching that. It’s just my opinion. But, it doesn’t mean that I don’t support nursing.
I am glad I live in a state where women have protection to breastfeed, especially given the fact that we live in formula-supported state. (Note: Ohio is home to Ross Labs, the maker of Similac formula.)
The question is, should there a time and a place when public breastfeeding be limited and who decides that?
Photo credit: Dayton Daily News
- First lady encourages women to breastfeed (thegrio.com)
- Sarah Palin flashback: Government has ‘vested interest’ in encouraging breastfeeding (dailykos.com)
- Montreal moms hold public breastfeeding demo (thestar.com)
- “Breastfeeding vs. formula feeding; Sarah Palin and the Obamas duke it out” and related posts (imperfectparent.com)