Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Breast Feeding in Public

A couple of friends of mine host a friendly debate each week and have created a meme (a way to link up your blog posts that fit with the theme). This week’s debate is breast feeding in public and there have been quite a few controversial remarks already!

Since this is apparently a hot topic right now, especially with all of the press Target is getting for their employees treatment of a breast feeding mother {or should I say mistreatment} in their store, I thought I would throw my two cents in.

Here it is in a nutshell: Out of the Fifty Nifty United States, Forty-Five States have laws {LAWS – in case the word slipped by you… let me emphasize it.} that specifically allow women to breastfeed in ANY public or private location.

Do you know if your state is one of them?
Here is the list according to The National Conference of State Legislature:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming

This website is a wealth of information on breastfeeding laws for any breastfeeding mother and if you have questions I would recommend checking it out. Some states exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty. There are laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace and that exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws.

Now that you know that the LAW protects breastfeeding mothers is there really anything left to debate? Of course there is, because even though it is protected by the law people still have strong feelings about this topic one way or another.

Here is my stance as a mother of two beautiful healthy breastfed boys. If you are a breastfeeding mother you should be able to breastfeed your child whenever and wherever you need to without fear or shame.

I breastfed both of my boys. With my first son I was timid and shy and too embarrassed to breastfeed in public. I went into dressing rooms and bathroom stalls or when company came over I left them to entertain themselves and took my baby in another part of the house to feed him in private. I was uneducated about breastfeeding in public and did not even own a nursing cover.

The second time around I did not have the luxury of breastfeeding in private. My toddler is an inquisitive rambunctious little guy who loves to explore and there is no way that he was going to sit patiently on a dirty bathroom stall floor while I tried to feed his brother {talk about a three ring circus – it’s not like there is a nice clean chair to sit on in the bathroom stall and feed my child. Nope I must stand and juggle my child, my clothing, and my escape artist son.}. I bought a nursing cover and quickly got over my shyness.

Every time I breastfed in public I wore the nursing cover. I am a conservative woman in my manner of dress and just as conservative about being covered when breastfeeding. As my little guy got bigger he pulled and tugged on the nursing cover and sometimes it was a struggle to stay covered. Oh well. That happens, its life. That is my stance on it. I never had anyone treat me badly or make a comment about my breastfeeding. I fed my child everywhere, the zoo, shopping, restaurants, the park… everywhere. People saw the nursing cover and knew what was taking place and were respectful and gave me my privacy.

I have been hearing stories about women being mistreated because they are breastfeeding in public and here is my response: Shame on YOU! God gave women breasts to feed their children. That is their intended use. That mother feeding her child is doing nothing wrong and if it makes you uncomfortable, that is your own taboo issue that you need to get over. Feel free to leave. Why should a baby have to go to a bathroom stall to eat in unsanitary conditions? Would you take your plate of food to the public bathroom stall to eat? I didn’t think so.

People need to have some respect and common decency for your fellow man. A woman feeding her child is completely normal, natural, and should be treated as such. I know that manners have gone completely by the wayside in today’s society {which is a shame}, but think about this before you even consider making any kind of derogatory remark about a breastfeeding mother: SHE is protected by the LAW! You may have the freedom to speak your mind, but you do not have the right to harass.

What can you do if you are being harassed while breastfeeding?
According to Mothering Magazine: State laws that protect public breastfeeding fall into three categories. Currently, the strongest state laws are those that both protect a woman's right to breastfeed anywhere she or her child have a right to be, regardless of whether the breast is showing, and that also give the woman the power to bring a legal action against anyone who interferes with her breastfeeding. Other state laws establish a woman's right to breastfeed in public, but don't provide a way for her to enforce this right. The third category specifies that the act of breastfeeding is not indecent exposure (sometimes given other names, but always referring to the exposure of body parts), and prevent a woman from being charged with a sex crime for breastfeeding.

What does this mean?
In one state a woman whose right to breastfeed had been violated filed charges of discrimination with the human rights commission. It is important to check into your state laws and know what your options are. Does your state enforce the law with the ability to bring legal action? Can you get punitive and/or compensatory damages?

When all is said and done it is up to US to know our rights and make sure that they are enforced. I would hope that people would be respectful and non judgmental, but if they are not… Know that you are protected under the law and you can take action.

Share This

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...