Saturday, January 7, 2012
Guest Blog: The Target Nurse-in - A Vital Event
I'll be honest, I wasn't quite sure how I felt when I first heard about the Target nurse-in. When I first heard the story it seemed almost too harsh to be true and I couldn't help but think of that old saying, "There are 3 sides to every story- yours, mine, and the truth." Then I read that the woman was actually sitting in the middle of the walkway. But then I read that the employees didn't understand the dressing room courtesy and thought it was a rule, not an offering.
Then I realized it doesn't matter.
What matters is that so many women want to breastfeed and so few women actually reach their personal breastfeeding goals. A part of that difficulty is nursing in public and any time a story comes out where a woman is or at least feels like she has been harassed, it makes other new moms take a step back and think, Is this really worth it to me?
I recently had my third son and I have finally been successful at breastfeeding. One day when he was just a few weeks old we went to Walmart. On cue, he started giving his "I'm-starving-to-death-and-nobody-will-ever-feed-me" cry right as we walked through the doors. I was wearing him in the Moby Wrap and had on a nursing top. I pulled the shirt back and latched him on. I'd like to think that no one around me even noticed what I was doing, but the fact is, I'm a pretty clumsy person and the fact that my screaming baby became a silent baby after I was tugging and pulling inside my shirt probably gave some onlookers a pretty good idea of what was going on. This was a significant moment for me. All of a sudden I had it. After all the tears, all the poor latch-ons, all the pumping, all the guilt, all the senses of failure, I finally did it. I was good enough at nursing this time that I could do it while wearing a wrap, standing up, in a place surrounded by people. I was so excited that I had my husband take a picture of me and I sent it to my mom and a friend. My dad texted me back and asked, (jokingly) if that was legal. His question threw me. Of course it was legal! Why wouldn't it be legal? Right? Hmm... was it legal? I googled on my phone (while still walking around Walmart and breastfeeding thankyouverymuch) and found that it was, in fact, legal. At least in my state. I texted my parents back and told them that since I was legally allowed to be in Walmart, and my son was legally allowed to be in Walmart, then yes, I could legally nurse him in Walmart. Success!
And then I realized something. I realized that I had taken it for granted that it is legal for me to feed my baby in a public place. I had heard so many times over and over Breast is Best! that I assumed that meant Breast is Best Everywhere. But apparently, to some people, it's not. And that's really sad.
My hope is that I'm part of a new generation of breastfeeding mothers. My hope is that I'm a part of a generation of women who can afford to take it for granted that I can breastfeed in public. But the fact is, I'm not. And that's why the Target Nurse-Ins were such an important event. As long as all 50 states do not have laws protecting breastfeeding mothers, and as long as breastfeeding goals are not reached, things like the Target Nurse-In need to happen. We need to stand together and show that nursing in public is not an inappropriate act. It's a necessary act. So many women quit breastfeeding because it's "difficult" to nurse in public. We need to show women that it doesn't have to be difficult. We need to show stores and restaurants that the breastfeeding community will not tolerate when one is mistreated.
To all the women who attended the Target Nurse-Ins, thank you. Thank you for ensuring that the law I was taking for granted will remain. Thank you for showing the public what it really looks like to nurse in public. Thank you for showing support to nursing women everywhere that we do not deserve to be mistreated for doing what is best for our children.
Who knows, maybe someday we will have a generation of women who can take it for granted that they can nurse in public. And let's hope that we raise those women to respect their right to breastfeed and make sure that it never goes away.
*Author's Note: Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the nurse-ins. At 10 AM that day I was in our van, traveling with my family to see grandparents. I'll be there at the next one. ;)