Action Templates

This is your resource for reacting to breastfeeding related incidents.  The power of a written letter or email can do wonders.  Over the comming months this page will grow with what to do when a company is very supportive of breastfeeding, how to contact local media, and how to organize a nurse-in.

Response to an anti-NIP incident

Example #1


[date]
[address to an individual at a high level if possible]
Kevin Churchwell
[title]
[address]
[copy as many people as you can that you think might have an impact]
cc: Ms. Sharin Barkin, Mr. Jonathan Gitlin, Mr. Paul Hain, Ms. Debbie Meloy


Dear Mr./Mrs.:

[start with a brief description of the problem.  E.g. focus on the infringement or nursing rights and site the law (see laws here)]  I respectfully write this letter on behalf of Ms. Kacy Ellis to express my concern over an incident that occurred in the lab at the Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt on October 19, 2010. On that date, Ms. Ellis’s statutory right to breastfeed under Tennessee law (Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-58-101) was infringed on by a lab technician (NAME OF TECH).


[continue with further details describing the incident as accurately as possible] Ms. Ellis’s son had jaundice when she took him to see the doctor at his three day appointment. The lab technician, (NAME OF TECH) tested his bilirubin levels. Ms. Ellis was called in the next day for the same lab test, and she saw the same lab technician. Ms. Ellis nursed at the office on both occasions with no difficulty; in fact she nursed while the lab tech drew the baby’s blood at the second appointment.


When she took the baby in for his two week appointment on October 19, she saw two pediatricians, Dr. Keiser and Dr. Warren, both of whom were very encouraging about breastfeeding. One doctor even performed an exam while the baby nursed. They were referred for more blood work, because the baby was still a little jaundiced. Ms. Ellis then carried her son to the lab waiting room in a ring sling baby carrier. While waiting, she nursed him in the sling. While she nursed him in the sling, the same lab technician took Ms. Ellis to the lab to have the baby’s blood drawn. When they got to the lab the tech asked, "Don't you have a blanket to put over him?" Ms. Ellis replied, "Oh, I'm fine. Thank you." The lab technician continued, "Not for you, but for . . . ," and she waved her hand around as if to indicate the other people in the lab.


[next discuss the value of breastfeeding.  That breastmilk and breastfeeding are the standard for infant nutrition.  Limit this to a paragraph or two - this is not a treatise on breastfeeding but you want to make the point that infringing on a mother's rights hurts everyone.  In the example Dionna included citations]
As you know, there are numerous and well-documented benefits for both infants 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]


[point out the law protecting nursing in public for the state and federal jurisdiction]  The law protects a child’s right to breastfeed in Tennessee.  Regardless of the many benefits of breastfeeding and its promotion by medical and governmental organizations, Tennessee law protects a child’s right to nurse. Tennessee enacted Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-58-101 et seq. (2006), which reads:


A mother has a right to breastfeed her child who is twelve (12) months of age or younger in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be present. [Tennessee law also exempts all breastfeeding, regardless of age, from public indecency laws.]


[state how NIP is essential to the promotion of breastfeeding and therefore mother and infant health] 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.


[point out the company's existing people-focused initiatives.  In the example it was a Hospital that had actual breastfeeding-friendly initiatives in effect.  If the establishment is something like a public place then point out their committment to customer service or family values (see example below)]  It is my understanding that Children’s Hospital of Vanderbilt has many positive breastfeeding initiatives and is in the process of becoming a “Baby-Friendly” hospital. I commend you for your work in supporting breastfeeding mothers, and I am confident that you will address this incident with your staff.


[give them an actionable request(s).  This could be an apology, a change of policy, or some employee training.]  I am writing to ask you to educate all hospital employees about the rights of breastfeeding pairs so that the next breastfeeding mother will not be made to feel ashamed for nursing her baby in your hospital.


Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to your response, and to encountering more compassionate, educated employees at the Children’s Hospital of Vanderbilt.


Sincerely,
Dionna Ford

Example #2

Cozette Phifer Koerber
Vice President of Brand Marketing and Corporate Communications
The Johnny Rockets Group, Inc.
25550 Commercentre Drive,
Suite 200
Lake Forest, CA 92630

Dear Ms. Phifer Koerber:

I respectfully write this letter to express my concern over a recent incident that took place at your location at Newport on the LeveeJohnny Rockets, Newport, KY 41071. A mother nursing her 6-month old child was asked to leave or nurse her child in the bathroom by the restaurant manager.  This is troubling for a number of reasons:

Breastmilk and breastfeeding are the standard for infant nutrition.

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]

[This example includes information about why a bathroom is not an appropriate option for a nursing mother] Children should not nurse in a bathroom.

The thought of a mother taking her child to a public restroom to nurse is disgusting and dangerous. Every time you flush your toilet, an aerosol spray of water droplets – laden with bits of feces and urine – explodes into the bathroom. Significant quantities of microbes float around the bathroom for at least two hours after each flush. In a public bathroom, that means the air is continuously blasted by feces droplets. What’s more? Women’s public restrooms contain twice as much fecal matter as men’s, probably due to the fact that there is the added contamination of soiled tampons and pads, and women are more likely to be dragging in small children and babies in need of a change.[5]

The Law Protects the Right To Nurse in Public. 

Kentucky State Law KRS § 211.755 states that a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.  Additionally, every US State in which Johnny Rockets currently operates has similar laws in place as does locations in Canada, Europe, and other countries in which Johnny Rockets operates.  As such it is the responsibility of your corporation and local managers to ensure that those working at your restaurants are aware of these laws and regulations. To not do so is truly a dramatic oversight that can lead to dangerous precedent and negligence.

[this example provides very specific requests for action]  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, if your organization has internal guidelines regarding breastfeeding mothers and how to handle complaints of patrons about a mother breastfeeding their child I encourage you to review these guidelines on a state-by-state basis to ensure that your guidelines are not actually violating local laws. There are some very real business risk reasons to follow through on this particular item. 
  • Second, I would also encourage you to post your policy in an easily accessible location so that all mothers who may be nursing their child can read your policy and decide for themselves whether they are comfortable with your policy. 
  • Third, a public and sincere apology to the mother in question.  
  • And, fourth, please educate your employees and franchisees 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. 



Paige Lucas-Stannard
Co-founder, NursingFreedom.org

cc: Rick Thompson
Johnny Rockets Newport on the Levee

One Levee Way
Newport, KY 41071
859-581-0700

References:
[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] Breastfeeding and Bathrooms Do Not Mix, http://codenamemama.com/2010/05/24/breastfeeding-and-bathrooms/

You can also download this example letter for mailing in paper form.


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