Friday, July 9, 2010

Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It

Welcome to the final day of our first ever Carnival of Nursing in Public. This week we have shared some amazing posts with you on making breastfeeding the normsupporting breastfeeding mothers, creating a supportive network, and breastfeeding from international and religious perspectives.

Today we are pleased to present posts on a subject close to our hearts - knowing and enforcing your breastfeeding rights. Our writers have shared their thoughts on our legal right to N.I.P., as well as potential responses to those who harass mothers for breastfeeding in public.

Even better, today we are debuting our State Law Breastfeeding cards - these business size cards will fit in your wallet so you can always have the law handy for anyone who might question your right to nurse in public. Get laminated versions for yourself and your friends, and get regular (unlaminated) versions to hand out to every breastfeeding mother you see.

And if your state does not have a current statute protecting breastfeeding mothers? Stick around - in the weeks and months to come will share resources and materials so that you can lobby for legislation that gives broad protection to nursing mothers and children. Help make your state safe for every breastfeeding child: Be a breastfeeding advocate!

Your Legal Rights to N.I.P.

  • Have you heard about the NewsRadio 106.3FM talk show host from South Carolina who wants to criminalize N.I.P. under public indecency statutes? Dionna from Code Name: Mama has transcribed part of the radio show in which Lisa Rollins called breastfeeding "disgusting" and admonished a mother for nursing in Chic Fil-A instead of nursing outside in her car in over 100 degree heat. You can read the letter that Dionna emailed to the station manager and Ms. Rollins on Our call to action for you is to write your own letter telling 106.3 that Ms. Rollins insensitive remarks are unacceptable - South Carolina protects the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children!
  • A person has the right to be offended by a mother nursing her child, but he does not have the right to interfere. Thankfully, we cannot dictate how others live their lives based on our own beliefs. An enlightening post by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children.
  • New breastfeeding mamas might be shocked to discover that they actually have a right to NIP, especially when they've already had someone tell them that NIP was not allowed. Mammapie at downside up and outside in shares her story.
  • This is our right as breastfeeding mothers: wherever it would be acceptable to give a baby a bottle, it is also acceptable to give a baby the breast. MamaRae at What's Happening learned this fact the hard way, but she is working to make that easier for the next mama.
  • Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch Momma has gotten more confident about NIP with each child, but knowing her legal rights to NIP makes her even more empowered.
  • Heidi spoke to management and wrote letters after she was twice told to move or cover up while breastfeeding at a city pool. Read her story at A Beatnik's Beat on Life.

Responses to Common N.I.P. Objections

  • Support for breastfeeding mamas in public can be shown in many ways. Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! prefers a warm smile.
  • Kate Hansen's beautiful breastfeeding art (which has graced our posts the last two days) was removed from Facebook as "obscene" and violating FB's terms of use. In this post at Kate Hansen Art, Kate describes the media coverage that followed FB's removal of her art. 
  • Minerva at Finding the Right Words explains why children should be able to eat in public exactly as they would if they were at home.
  • Erin at Growing with My Girls wonders why there is a double standard when it comes to breastfeeding mamas v. women in low-cut tops.
  • If anyone ever tells you that you should cover up because they don't want to have to explain breastfeeding to their child, Karen at Intentional Birth has a good response: tell them that you are feeding your child in the most natural way possible.
  • It's simply not possible or fair to expect breastfeeding mamas to stay at home during the nursing years. MamanADroit explains.
  • Every time you NIP, you might be inspiring the next potential breastfeeding mama. Before she breastfed her own twins, the only woman Mama Sim at Family Organic had seen nurse was a coworker.
  • Slee at Paisley & Pretties has had to respond to a few negative comments - all from family members. How do you respond when those closest to you don't understand the necessity of nursing in public?
  • Breastfeeding moms shouldn't have to be on guard against attack. But if you are going to NIP, it's empowering to have a plan in place in case you are asked to cover up or leave. Spookygirl at Spookiez Spot has a few ideas to help you feel ready to face negativity.
  • It's impossible to balance the comfort/desires of every person in a public place with the comfort/desires of your child. The child should come first. Fia at The Laundry Narrative finally came to terms with that fact after her nursing babe became a nursing toddler.
  • Breastfeeding mamas should feel like "Sam I Am" - I will nurse in a boat, on a goat, in a car, in a train, anywhere! Jenny guest posts at Problem Solvin' Mom.
  • Breastfeeding will not be hidden in a closet! Glenda guest posts at Life As I Know It.
  • Would you want to eat on a table that just had a poopy diaper changed on it? No? Then you'll understand when a baby doesn't want to breastfeed in a bathroom. Read about food and feces in this post from Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children.


Comment by Erin

I am looking forward to seeing the upcoming resources for lobbying for NIP legislation... I would really encourage anyone who lives in TN to make some noise about the unfairness of the law there, which states a mother may nurse a baby 12 months and under in public. The age limit needs to be removed! As somebody who visits TN frequently but doesn't live there, I don't know that my voice has any weight on the matter. TN citizens reading here should work to get this changed, and I wonder if there is anything I can do as somebody who visits the state often?

I think it is also important to look into local public schools' health classes curriculum. In my county they are not even allowed to MENTION breastfeeding in the infant care (family life) class in middle school. Look into joining the advisory committee for schools in your area. I will apply as soon as there is an opening!

I NIP everyday. I have 4 children- 2 of whom nurse. When I see a mama NIP i try and thank her for it. Every compliment helps.

wow. Not allowed to MENTION breastfeeding in family life class? That's like not mentioning subtraction in math, only it actually can endanger the health of the future parents and their future offspring. Wow.

I nursed my two children, (am expecting 3rd) and my former MIL told me -when we were in a restaurant- that I "better go into the bathroom because [she] didn't want to see how disgusting it was for her (she pointed to my daughter) to eat". I told her- don't like it, you go eat in the bathroom. My daughter was 3 weeks old at that point and her only immune system was what she drank out of me.

my own grandmother told me I was deranged and must have derived some sick sexual pleasure from it.... yeah right. don't we all? (rolls eyes)

I later had an older lady smile at me in a mall when I nursed. She told me that more women should, it's the best way and that she was proud of me for doing it, and doing it in public. made the other experiences validated. :D

They don't mention it in the curr.?!?!?! I don't understand how breastfeeding gets nixed, but they probably have an extensive sex ed. curr. Breasts are WAAAAAAYYYYY too sexualized in this country. Breastfeeding is the other use of breasts!!!! I'm just getting over my shyness of NIP and haven't had anyone say anything negative to me yet, but if they did I'd lay into them with info such as you share here. Thank you so much for speaking out!

I live in West Virginia, the only state with NO legislation regarding breastfeeding in public. Where can I go to get support from people to send to Congress?

Whitbit: I'd say to start by reaching out to local La Leche League groups. You just need to get the ball rolling on finding support for introducing legislation. If you would like, I can connect you with women who are trying to do this in other states. Email me: Dionna {at} CodeNameMama {dot} com

I just found this post on Pinterest, & am looking forward to reading everything you've linked! I've recently been told to move to a private room to breastfeed my baby at my older sons' school. I'm blogging about getting the Austin ISD to adopt a policy that conforms to our right to breastfeed law at Thank you for compiling all of this!

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