Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Letter to Cup of Serenity in Greensboro, NC

Dionna Ford
Co-Founder, NursingFreedom.org
NursingFreedom@gmail.com

September 7, 2010

James Kithcart and Nancy Garrett
Co-Owners, Cup of Serenity, Inc.
CupOfSerenity@att.net


Dear Mr. Kithcart and Ms. Garrett:

I respectfully write this letter to express my concern over an incident that occurred at Cup of Serenity on Monday, September 6, 2010. On that date, Ms. Becky Lange’s statutory right to breastfeed under North Carolina law (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-190.9 (1993)) was infringed on by Ms. Nancy Garrett.

On September 6, Ms. Lange arrived at Cup of Serenity to meet with her parenting group. (The group, TriadMommies, has been meeting at Cup of Serenity since May, 2010.) Ms. Lange ordered drinks and food and settled down at a table with her two children; they were the only customers in the shop.

Ms. Garrett approached Ms. Lange and sat down at the table. Ms. Garrett told Ms. Lange that the Cup of Serenity had gotten complaints about and were losing business because of mothers breastfeeding in the shop, and she asked Ms. Lange to please cover up with a towel when she nursed her 3-month-old daughter.
Ms. Lange explained to Ms. Garrett that there are state and federal laws that protect a woman’s right to breastfeed in Cup of Serenity. Ms. Garrett pressed the issue, saying that she could not afford to lose business, and Ms. Lange and her group (many of whom breastfeed) must cover up or leave.

Ms. Lange followed up on the incident by contacting Mr. Kithcart. Mr. Kithcart apologized for Ms. Garrett’s unlawful actions.

While Mr. Kithcart was apologetic, to our knowledge no steps have been taken to remedy this incident or to make breastfeeding mothers once again feel welcome in Cup of Serenity.

Several acquaintances of Ms. Lange have contacted the local Fox News station, here is a video of the initial interview.

Breastmilk and breastfeeding are the standard for infant nutrition.

There are numerous and well-documented benefits for both children and mothers who breastfeed, as well as risks to those who do not breastfeed. Breastmilk contains growth factors, hormones, enzymes, and other substances that are immune-protective and foster proper growth and nutrition.[1] Breastfeeding is associated with a reduction of the risk for children of contracting pneumonia, staphylococcal infections, influenza, ear infections, severe infections of the lower respiratory tract, asthma, obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, childhood leukemia, certain types of cancer, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).[2]

Encouraging breastfeeding is an integral part of many governmental health and wellness initiatives, including programs created by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, among others.[3] And breastfeeding is not just for infants. The American Academy of Family Physicians 2008 Position Paper on breastfeeding states that “breastfeeding at least until the second year of a child's life is not considered 'extended' breastfeeding. Rather, breastfeeding until the bare minimum age of 2 years is the norm and anything less brings about detrimental consequences.”[4]

The law protects a child’s right to breastfeed.

Regardless of the many benefits of breastfeeding and its promotion by medical and governmental organizations, state and federal law protect a child’s right to nurse – covered or not. North Carolina enacted § 14-190.9, which reads:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a woman may breast feed in any public or private location where she is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast feeding.

Breastmilk and breastfeeding are the standard for infant nutrition. No mother should ever be made to feel ashamed or embarrassed for giving her child nourishment and comfort at her breast. Another mother might not know her rights. She might comply with unlawful requests to cover up or leave. She might decide to pump or reduce her child’s number of breastfeeding sessions (both of which may reduce her milk supply and harm the breastfeeding relationship). She might even decide to wean her child prematurely.

Please work with me to normalize breastfeeding in our society. I am writing to ask you to take positive steps to help breastfeeding mothers. First, please educate your employees about the rights of breastfeeding pairs. If you need help finding materials or someone to lead an informational session, I will gladly help you find a qualified attorney, Lactation Counselor, or La Leche League leader. Second, you can also display signs that identify your facility as “breastfeeding friendly.”[5] Third, you may wish to issue a formal apology for the actions of your employee.[6]

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to your response, and to encountering more compassionate, educated employees the next time any breastfeeding mother enters Cup of Serenity. You are welcome to respond publicly on NursingFreedom.org, where this letter will be published on Wednesday, September 8, 2010.

Sincerely,
Dionna Ford
Co-founder, NursingFreedom.org


[1] Hamosh, Margit, PhD, Breastfeeding: Unraveling the Mysteries of Mother’s Milk, http://www.asklenore.info/breastfeeding/additional_reading/mysteries.html
[2] Ip S, et al., Breastfeeding and maternal and infant health outcomes in developed countries, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17764214; see also Burby, Leslie, 101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child (and citations therein), http://www.promom.org/101/
[3] See http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/ ; http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/policy/hp2010.htm ; http://www.letsmove.gov/tfco_fullreport_may2010.pdf
[4] http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/policy/policies/b/breastfeedingpositionpaper.html; The AAFP’s position is almost identical to that of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/infantfeeding/9241562218/en/index.html.
For similar positions from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other medical organizations, see http://www.aap.org/breastfeeding/faqsBreastfeeding.html#10; see also http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/bfm.2008.9988?journalCode=bfm
[5] This sign would be perfect to display in Cup of Serenity: http://www.cafepress.com/NursingFreedom.458759007
[6] For more information on breastfeeding education and advocacy, please join us at www.NursingFreedom.org

2 comments:

I do not support Nancy Garrett's actions or attitude, but she is the only one who violated the rights of Ms. Lange. There is another owner and a manager in the store who have always been nice and welcoming. With the help of James Kithcart and Claire Merry, Cup of serenity has really turned this around. They want everyone to feel welcome, including nursing mothers. it appears they don't share the same views as Ms. Garrett. In fact, they are organizing a day for moms, which I believe sparked from the plans to hold a nurse-in. Check out their facebook page to see all about how this situation will actually help all us moms who breastfeed our kids! Thanks

Greensboro Mom - When Becky emailed me about this, she said that James Kithcart was very apologetic - that is actually noted in the letter. I'm happy to hear that they are doing something to welcome back breastfeeding mothers!

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