Nurse-ins

Becky - posted on 12/30/2011 ( 74 moms have responded )

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I'm not trying to start a breast-feeding in public debate! Just curious, given a recent nurse-in at Target stores across the US, what are your thoughts on nurse-ins? Are they an effective way to protest harassment and raise awareness about breastfeeding? Or are they just obnoxious and do more harm than good? Have you ever attended a nurse in? Would you?

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Anna - posted on 01/05/2012

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I've never participated in a nurse-in and probably never would, at least not on purpose. The thing is, I've nursed in public many many times and in many many places and have only ever had positive experiences. People either don't care, or pretend to not care, or are verbally or actively supportive. I realize that this is not always the case for others and yes, it's too bad that we have not converted 100% of the public to our cause but really, I'm very satisfied with the way people treat nursing mothers. I'm not going to complain about other people's isolated incidents, as long as they remain just that, isolated incidents.

If anything, my experience is that the public makes it a whole lot easier on the nursing babies then they do on the solid food eating people. If my baby wants to eat at the library for example, hey, he gets too. If his big brother gets hungry, well, he's SOL. No food or drink allowed. And I think that's fair. I am very willing to bear the weighty responsibility of feeding my kids in places that are appropriate for eating. And that goes for nursing and other forms of nourishment equally.

Tam - posted on 01/01/2012

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Medical emergencies are one thing, and I would hope that if anyone saw someone in some sort of physical distress down on the floor, they might stop to lend a hand.

On the other hand, sitting on a floor can actually pose a public safety risk. Someone can walk past, not see you, then trip over you. possibly injuring themselves, you, an/or whatever infant you might have. Likely the store could be held liable for failure to maintain a functional walkway. Also, the main reason walk ways must be clear of obstacles is due to fire hazard to provide egress in the event of emergency.

Again, I don't think it's right that they targeted her breastfeeding as a reason to move, but I also don't think it's a good idea to be sitting in the floor in a place where people generally walk, and had they approached it from the public safety angle the store would have been fully in the right to have her move to another area. The same could be said of anyone sitting on the floor for any reason aside from the medical emergency you mentioned before - again, in that case, hopefully the employee or a bystander would try to render aid at the very least.

On a personal note, I would breastfeed my children as I walked. It has never occurred to me to sit on the floor to feed them. Like Mary, I'm no germaphobe bur I'd definitely not want my child eating so close to a place that is quite possibly dirtier than breast feeding in a restroom.

Mary - posted on 01/01/2012

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Celeste - I don't know where you got the information that Hickman was ever told that she could be arrested for indecent exposure. It seems that all that actually occurred in the store itself was, per Hickman herself, "They all came and started walking by and shaking their head, rolling their eyes like I'm doing something so horrible like feeding my baby here."

Now, I am by no means condoning the behavior of these employees, but I have to say, there is a huge part of me that feel like Hickman was, in a way, trying to create a situation where there never needed to be one. IF she had been nursing her baby in some out-of-the-way area intended for sitting, and she was asked to move, that would have been one thing. However, her choice to just plop her ass down on the floor of the clothing department was, in essence, just asking for others to take note of what she was doing. I've been that nursing mom in Target, Walmart, the grocery store, etc...and somehow never felt the need to park my ass on the floor to feed my kid.

Perhaps I'm more organized than some, but when my daughter was that age, I generally timed our outings to be just after a feed. Was it because I felt uncomfortable nursing in a store like Target? No - it was generally because I didn't want to prolong my time there by having to stop and spend a half hour feeding her in the middle of shopping. On the off occasion that I did have to nurse her while out, I somehow always managed to find a bench or chair where feeding my child wasn't going to be in anyone's way, or make an unnecessary spectacle of us. I didn't necessarily hide away in a cubbyhole (it never crossed my mind that I could use the dressing room for that - wish it had!), but I tried to be considerate of the general public by not being a nuisance about it, either.

I'm sorry, but Hickman's choice to nurse her kid on the floor made her a public nuisance. To me, she forfeited the right for a genuine grievance by her choice of location. What she did is no more acceptable than sitting on the floor of any store to carry on a phone conversation, fix your make-up, or braid your kid's hair.

I just don't see her as a good focal point to rally around. The circumstances aren't ones that will necessarily engender widespread public sympathy or outrage. As well, there is the fact that some of participants of this nurse-in opted to "...dispersed to the in-store Starbucks or the clearance racks or the baby-gear department. In an ironic twist, some moms nursed their babies near the formula aisle." The moment they started to block access to aisles or merchandise they went from making a point to being annoying.

Mary - posted on 12/31/2011

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I'm not sure that they really are that effective when it comes to swaying general public opinion. Chances are, they do probably annoy the average person who is just going about their day, and whose day is in some form interrupted by it.

I think about someone like my husband, who is fairly neutral on the topic. I breastfed our daughter for 14 months, and he was completely supportive of it. It's not really an "issue" he feels passionately about, or really even gives much thought to. However, if he had been in one of those Targets, and his access to an aisle or product was impeded by a bunch of nursing mothers, I guarantee you that he would come home bitching up a storm about these "nutjobs" who need to find a place to feed their kid that isn't in everybody's way. He'd have the same response if these mothers were bottle feeding. For someone like him, I think that a nurse-in would have the effect of making him a bit biased against the "cause".

The woman whose negative experience sparked all of this had chosen to sit on the floor in the woman's clothing department. As a breastfeeding mother, I have to say, she would have annoyed me as well, and I would have (silently) applauded any employee who asked her to relocate to fitting room. To me, it's not really so much about what she was doing, but more about the where. Maybe I'm just a more considerate person, but I just don't think it's unreasonable for any store to tell a mother that plopping down on the floor in any shopping area of the store to feed her kid isn't acceptable. The method of feeding is irrelevant in this scenario. The "right" to nurse your kid in public does not give you the right to impede access to any part of the store for it's other clients.

As I said, I exclusively breastfed my daughter for 14 months. I fully support any mother's right to nurse her child "in public" in any location in which bottle feeding would be considered acceptable. That being said, I don't think a bunch of nursing moms clogging up the aisles of a department store are going to do much to endear anyone to their cause. (Which is what some of them did for this particular nurse-in....
http://healthland.time.com/2011/12/29/ta... )

Karla - posted on 01/04/2012

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Mary, I only mention meeting your approval because you keep saying you would not have breastfed on the floor. Regarding your opinion:
-You admittedly were not in her shoes,
-she felt she was out of the way,
-and she said no customers even saw her.
So, I don’t see how her location could have been a problem.

You seem to be directing me to the opinionated comments made on the internet. Frankly, if I were to live my life based on the judgment of internet critics I might as well end it all today. Jumping on the bandwagon to criticize is easily done, and hard to stop. Mob mentality got a facelift with the Internet. One of the things I hate about it. (It may be another topic to discuss whether or not the nurse-in would have happened without Internet communications… just saying.)

Something to keep in mind with protests, whether peaceful or not, is that they will be criticized just because they are protesting. I would rather see protesters than blind conformity.

If moms want to have a nurse-in then fine; maybe it helps maybe it doesn’t. So on the point of the OP I’m on the fence, but I will continue to say the mom was fine with what she did, and the protesters were not necessarily out of line either. That’s my final opinion.

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Janice - posted on 01/05/2012

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"I understand that you have no issue with her choice of location. I think it very relevant. I pointed out all of those comments, because a large majority of people did zero in on precisely that part of the incident. Any outrage or even sympathy at her claims of harassment were lost in people's incredulity at her (poor) choice to sit on the floor. It made it oh-so-easy for detractors to say "So - a bathroom is too dirty to nurse your kid in, but the floor of store is acceptable?' "

Although I too would rather sit out of the way on the floor rather than search for a more "suitable" place with my children screaming, I must agree with Mary on this one.

Mary - posted on 01/05/2012

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Karla you have the right to your opinion, and I have the right to mine. When it comes to Hickman's version of precisely what transpired, well...it's exactly just that - her perception of events. As Krista pointed out in one of her earlier posts, this is, at it's core, a he-said/she-said scenario. Ultimately, there is no way to either prove or disprove what actually transpired on this day. It is certainly not beyond the realm of plausibility to think that she may have embellished what happened. I've been with enough of my friends when they delivered their babies, and then heard them re-tell their birth stories (and quietly sat there thinking, huh? That's not how it happened at all!) to know that our perceptions of events, especially where emotions are involved, are often not quite factually accurate.

As for internet-voiced opinions...no, I don't think one needs to live their life or base their actions around them. However, it does not negate the fact that they are still a reflection of public sentiment. People are undoubtedly freer in expressing their opinions when they have a higher degree of anonymity; if anything, the internet has served to bring to light the public's thoughts on something that you would otherwise never know.

I'm not of the mindset that people should stop protesting, nor am I calling for "blind conformity". What I am against is people protesting stupidly, or without just cause. Perhaps HIckman was unjustly harassed...but there is simply too much in her "incident" that is easily questioned or faulted for this to make it a smart focal point to rally around. The end result is that not only does it rev up those who are already of the mindset that nursing mothers should hide away, but it also makes those who were otherwise indifferent to the topic tend to think negatively about it.

I understand that you have no issue with her choice of location. I think it very relevant. I pointed out all of those comments, because a large majority of people did zero in on precisely that part of the incident. Any outrage or even sympathy at her claims of harassment were lost in people's incredulity at her (poor) choice to sit on the floor. It made it oh-so-easy for detractors to say "So - a bathroom is too dirty to nurse your kid in, but the floor of store is acceptable?"

I have nothing against nurse-ins or other types of protests that are done smartly. I object to this one specific incident because, imo, it actually did more harm in the court of public opinion than good. Hell, even some of those moms who attended the nurse-in at Target stated that they themselves had publicly nursed there before without any issues, and would continue to shop there! Yet another chink in the credibility of this particular protest - even those out supporting "the cause" admit that Hickman's problem is not a shared, widespread issue for all Targets across the nation, but rather the isolated actions of individual employees.

When you look at all of these factors combined, it seems like if it raised awareness at all, it did so in a fashion that made it all to easy for detractors to both find fault and ridicule nursing mothers. It's impact was far more negative than "good".

Celeste - posted on 01/04/2012

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Absolutely Mary. There are some moms who want to have nurse ins without giving the company sufficient time, or what have you. But I believe that the employees were in the wrong in this instance. As in Laura's and Karla's stories, I doubt that she was making a stink and simply trying to take care of her babies. And I choose to believe Michelle that she was asked to move because she was nursing and not because she was a safety hazard to other employees or customers.

Mary - posted on 01/04/2012

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But, Celeste - isn't that all the more reason to be very, very smart about whose incidents we chose to make a stink over? I absolutely agree that there are those out there who are going to find fault, even if the mother's behavior was simply impeccable, and she was covered in a freakin shroud from head to toe. You simply cannot escape that. I just think the message is much more empowered, and likely to affect change if the focal point's actions are not so easily and reasonably questioned.

And Karla - I am by no means against "unconventional" methods to keep a child happy, quiet, or entertained (nor did I ever imply that I was). I certainly employ them with my toddler on a regular basis. I just have the capacity to recognize that when in public, I do, at times, need to defer to the authority of those whose establishment I am patronizing. I accept that having a child does not suddenly make me immune to following the rules or guidelines of a particular place, even if I think they are silly.

Jamie - posted on 01/04/2012

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Peaceful protests historically have been very effective. Good examples come from women's suffrage and the civil rights movement.



I went to the nurse-in and I am really curious why anyone would think that the women would be in the way. They were not obstructing anything in the store, just nursing their babies.



I think the best example of how a nurse-in changed policy and law was in the case of Forest Park, GA http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/07...



but there are lots of other examples: Victoria's Secret nurse-in in 2005, Applebees, Chick-fil-a...Dennys...I could go on....

Celeste - posted on 01/04/2012

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Mary, that's with ANY nurse in. Not just Target. The mom could have been sitting in a chair, with a cover, and people would STILL be harsh.

And again, I 100% agree that if she was in the way of other customers, and just being a nuisance, I would not have any problem with an employee telling her that she should have moved. And if she used "It's my right to nurse here" card, I wouldn't have participated in the nurse in.

However, I choose to believe Michelle Hickman when she said that employees told her to move BECAUSE she was nursing, not because she was a safety hazard.

Mary - posted on 01/04/2012

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Karla - it's really not my "approval" that matters, although if I, as a mother who did breastfeed my daughter for 14 months (and in my own local Target) find the merits of this specific incident a bit questionable...well, you have to know that people with even less reason to identify with her are going to be even less inclined to find her a sympathetic victim.



Again, if, as claimed, a part the intent of this (or any) nurse-in is to sway public opinion and make it as socially acceptable as talking on your cell phone while shopping, this one, imo, was a big, fat failure. You don't have to take my word for it - just read any of the comments posted on practically any story printed on it.



http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?sectio...



http://www.wusa9.com/comments/181647/283...



http://jjb.yuku.com/topic/698477/Mom-cla...



Those are just a the first few that came up when I googled "Target Nurse-in". ( I have to admit, one of my favorite, albeit a bit harsh, comments was "Nursing is not a "get away with being an ass" card").



When someone who is not personally vested in the "cause" of breastfeeding reads the details of HIckman's experience, a fair number of them are not going to think that this was about her "rights", but rather a misplaced expectation of convenience on the part of the nursing mother. There is a big difference between the two. A nursing mother does have the right to feed her baby in public - but she doesn't necessarily have the absolute right to dictate her ideal surroundings.

Merry - posted on 01/04/2012

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Yes Mary, I DID feel like two screaming kids being wrangled to the opposite corner of the store to sit on the bench by the pharmacy would have been a bigger nuisance to customers and employees then simply letting Eric play happily while I fed her to sleep.
Best for me and my kids first but I always try to choose the courteous option because I'm a hugely shy person and hate confrontation.
No I wouldn't move. Not entitlement, but just if there's no need for me to move I wouldn't bother. Now if they needed to get a pallet past me sure I'd hop up instantly. But a 'for no apparent reason' request to move, no, I'd politely say thanks but no thanks.

Karla - posted on 01/04/2012

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I've had more support by keeping my kids quiet and happy in unconventional ways than by waiting while they cry or scream so that I could take care of them in a method and place that would be approved of by Mary. That's the honest to God truth. Happy children are not usually noticed as much as loud ones. So yes, often the action is for the benefit of everyone.



I like Laura's points and have had similar experiences and have never been asked to move or stop doing what I was doing, and I don't think it should have happened to the mom at Target either. Mary, whether or not you think it was appropriate or protest worthy, many did. It just is.

Krista - posted on 01/04/2012

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We don't know if they would have also harassed her if she was sitting in the food court or on a couch or a chair by the pharmacy.

That's right. We don't know that. Hickman claims that she was hassled pretty much solely for breast-feeding, and that an employee told her she could be charged for indecent exposure. So IF that is true, then yes, it's very possible that they would have gotten after her even if she'd been seated in an actual seating area.

But right now, it's a case of "she said/she said". And all that I am saying is that unfortunately, because Hickman was clueless enough to seat herself on the floor, instead of having the common sense to ask about a seating area, it makes it a lot easier to think of her as an entitled shit-disturber, and therefore, to doubt the veracity of her story.

Mary - posted on 01/04/2012

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"I'm just trying to say I wasnt trying to make a statement, I wasn't feeling entitled, I wasn't trying to be rude or sit in in a bad spot I simply was trying to do the best thing in a tough spot and honestly I felt this was the best choice for all involved."

But Laura, were you really trying to the best for "all", or rather, what seemed best (and easiest) for you? If you're being honest, you didn't chose to nurse Fia there on the floor because it was the best place available in the store - you did it because you were trying to accommodate your son. Don't get me wrong...all mothers make similar choices on a daily basis. The problem comes in when you say that if respectfully asked to move, you would refuse. (Barring any direct, overt suggestion that the reason for the request was solely related to your activity, and that you needed to do it in a hidden location). At that point, you really are displaying a sense of entitlement that is woefully misplaced, especially in the court of public opinion.

My daughter is three, and there have certainly been times when I have allowed her to do somethings in public places that may be a bit questionable in their propriety. One her favorite things to do when we are grocery shopping is to "play the drums" on the containers of cottage cheese, sour cream, ricotta, etc. In my eyes, there is nothing particularly destructive, disruptive or disturbing to others about her doing it. The dairy department manager kind of "knows" us by now, and he usually smiles at her, and has even stopped to dance and drum along with her. However, if he ( or another employee) ever asked me to make her stop, I wouldn't refuse, or try to argue that she wasn't hurting or bugging anyone. I might think he was a bit of an uptight ass, but I would also recognize that it really is his right to say that her behavior isn't acceptable. He hasn't ejected me from the store, or told me that my kid can only be there if she is confined to the cart. Nor has he prevented me from shopping. I could certainly refuse, or argue his position - but that would just make me look like a belligerent, self-entitled momma who expects everyone else to find my child's antics cute or endearing. In short, my refusal to comply with a simple request makes me, and not him, seem like the ass.

Merry - posted on 01/04/2012

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And both times if someone asked me to move I'd have said, no thanks I'm good here. And smiled as I'd assume they were trying to be courteous and offer me a more comfy place to nurse. I they continued I'd say I'm almost done, thankyou.

Merry - posted on 01/04/2012

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I'm just trying to say I wasnt trying to make a statement, I wasn't feeling entitled, I wasn't trying to be rude or sit in in a bad spot I simply was trying to do the best thing in a tough spot and honestly I felt this was the best choice for all involved.
Maybe she did the same.

So, yeah i know you're fine with bf in public. You just have issue with the floor thing.
But I'm saying the floor isn't really that big a deal. If I've done it twice in 2 years of breastfeeding I'm sure I'm not the only one and none of us (random women who for some reason or another have nursed on a store floor) have ever been asked to move then maybe this was a simply situation of a very rude and opinionated staff who was bullying a mom.
We don't know if they would have also harassed her if she was sitting in the food court or on a couch or a chair by the pharmacy. They might have been anti bf weirdos who would have harassed her anywhere she was!
I'm just saying that, floor or not, this shouldn't have been a big deal.

And if she refused to move maybe it was just that her baby was finally falling asleep and if she moved it was going to wake, or maybe the feed was almost over, or maybe she didn't want to put away her breast while they stared at her.

Mary - posted on 01/04/2012

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Laura, you'd only make it in the news for that action if a store employee asked you to relocate to a more appropriate location and you then refused and made a big stink about it.



You are correct in that with the way most state laws are worded, it leads one to think that they are somehow free to ignore basic common courtesies, and just nurse anywhere they damned well please. For example, in my state (MD), the law is this: A mother may breastfeed her child in any public or private location in which the mother and child are authorized to be.



Now, in Hickman's situation, and the one you have described with yourself, the word "authorized" is key. Yes, you and your baby are "authorized" to be in that store. However, by sitting on the floor and engaging in any activity longer than a minute or two, you do open yourself up to the reasonable possibility that the store will tell you to move. Your opinion that you are out of the way of other customers or staff is irrelevant - the store has the authority to determine that. The act of nursing your baby is not some magical shield that makes you immune to the same constrictions and expectations of reasonable behavior that the rest of the society must adhere to while in public.



For the millionth time - I fully support any mother's right to nurse her child in public. I just won't support her if she acts in a manner that suggests she is somehow above the same restrictions that the rest of the non-nursing world adheres to. Krista's example of balancing her checkbook in the same location as Hickman is spot on. If Krista did that, was asked to move and refused, no one (in their right mind) would think that she was in any way being unfairly discriminated against. The average person would simply think she was an idiot for thinking that the floor of a store was reasonable place to do that.



If breastfeeding moms truly want to sway public opinion in their favor, they will nurse their infants in a manner that does not forego a sense of thoughtfulness and consideration of their environment and those around them. Nursing mothers do themselves no favors when they behave in fashion that suggests that think they are somehow above or outside of the norms of polite social constructs merely because they have child. All that does is annoy people, and weakens their ability to garner public acceptance. In 45 states, the law is already on their "side". If the goal is to increase breastfeeding as socially normal and acceptable, than the onus really is on the nursing mother to avoid acting as if the world around her owes her a special pass or some type of indulgence just because her kid is hungry. Nurse your baby wherever you want - but be smart about it, and lose the sense of entitlement.

Merry - posted on 01/03/2012

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Jen, in Wisconsin, (where I live, not her) it IS my right to nurse anywhere I want. And it IS illegal to ask me to move. Now I swear I don't usually nurse in odd spots but if it happens it is protected for me.
Usually I go to the food court in target or the couch section in shopko or nurse while walking using a sling.

Merry - posted on 01/03/2012

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Whoops I did it again.
Lol
I was just catching up on all these posts and I remembered another time I nursed while sitting on the floor in a Walmart ts time. And it was Fierna this time.
So Eric and fia and I were shopping, Eric was pitching a fit and Fierna was hungry and tired. I knew if I could get fia asleep I could continue to shop while entertaining Eric but he wouldn't ride in the cart and he was making a scene cuz he didn't want to leave the baby section by the toys and so I sat with my back to an end cap and fed fia to sleep. Quite a few customers saw me, most smiled" none looked upset. No comments. Employees walked past no comment. Once she was asleep I slid her into the sling and got Eric to help me finish shopping!
I guess I'm an oddity?
Then again I also sit on the floor commonly other places.
Maybe I need to knock it off before I'm in the news!

[deleted account]

I've read further on. This woman was in the wrong AND the employees were dicks about it. She and so many other women need to realize that just having a baby doesn't mean you get to do al the mothery stuff anywhwere. It drove me bonkers when I worked at the mall and women would grab a bench and proceed to change diapers and everything else they wanted. It's not always the best place. I'ms orry, I would have told her to move too had I worked there. It's not her right to nurse anywhere she wants. They weren't relegating her to the bathroom or the stockroom but a fitting room. Exactly where is the problem?

[deleted account]

I fully am in support of breastfeeding but I think they're idiotic and silly. Most of the time, IMO they're done over fooling things that one woman got bent out of shape over and let her hormones run wild. I'ts just not nice to say that out loud.

Celeste - posted on 01/03/2012

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I 100% agree if that's what had happened. From what she said, employees were instructed to move *nursing mothers* to the fitting rooms. So, from my understanding, even if she was sitting in a chair, an employee would have told her to move to the fitting room.

Again, I'm not disagreeing that *IF* she was in the way, and *IF* the employees told her to move because they didn't want any customer on the floor, that's one thing. But they told her to move *BECAUSE* she was a nursing mother.

Krista - posted on 01/03/2012

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Yeah, if I owned a store, and someone just plunked their ass on the floor, even if it was over in the corner, and started eating their lunch, I would ABSOLUTELY ask them to move. This is no different. I am sympathetic towards nursing mothers, though, so if space permitted, I would offer her the use of the break room or a change room, so that she has a place to sit. And it's not because I think that nursing moms have to hide away. I don't. Nurse on a park bench in the middle of Times Square, if you want. But it's ridiculous for anybody to park themselves on the floor of a business, for an extended period, and think that it's unreasonable to be asked to more.

Janice - posted on 01/03/2012

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Well, I dont think the nurse-in in my area was effective. First of all I heard about from my local news' FB post asking "Should nursing in public be allowed?" That just shows how backward our society is that we wonder if women should be able to feed their child the way nature intended. Responses were quite mixed. But even those supporting breastfeeding often proclaimed to it modestly as if a breastfeeding mom's goal is to show off her boobs. Then the video footage was shot outside because target wouldn't let the news in and the mom being interviewed had her baby out in 35 degree weather with no hat! I'm sure all those opposed to public nursing loved that!



Now I breastfeed everywhere and support all women's right to do so. However, this was an isolated incident at target. I think instead of raising breastfeeding awareness, it reinforced the view that mothers who breastfeed are crazy instead of normal.

So, no I dont think I will ever attend a nurse-in but I will continue to breastfeed wherever and whenever to show how normal and natural it is.

Karla - posted on 01/02/2012

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She was in an out of the way place.



I would not be annoyed with someone sitting in an out of the way spot, but I might ask if they need assistance. That's all. Differing tolerance levels...



On a side note, having extended bf all four of my children, I found many instances where I needed to feed them in less than ideal places. Most the extenuating circumstances were outside my first year of bf, things happen. I'm not ready to condemn her, and I won't no matter the opinion of others. She explained what happened and I'm on her side.

Celeste - posted on 01/02/2012

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From what I understood, she wasn't asked to move because she was in the way. She was told to move because she was nursing as the employees were instructed to interrupt *NURSING* mothers to the fitting room.



Like I said, I wouldn't nurse on the floor and I would find a place to sit. And, perhaps common sense was lacking, but she was still within her rights to nurse.

Mary - posted on 01/02/2012

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Karla - I disagree with the assertion that she has the right to feed her baby "anywhere". She has no more "right" to feed her baby on the floor of department store than I do to sit in the exact same spot and eat a pizza. Apparently I am bizarre in this, but as someone who did nurse her baby for over a year, I innately just knew that there were some limits to where I could nurse my kid without causing a ruckus. For some odd reason, motherhood did not betsow on me a sense of entitlement that I could do whatever I pleased, wherever I pleased, just because my kid was hungry, cranky, or whatever. Perhaps advanced maternal age freed me from this social defect, but I just never got the message that having a child meant that her needs or mine superseded basic common sense and courtesy.

Some key points that are being ignored...any harassment that ensued occurred after they requested that she relocate (to a perfectly acceptable location) and refused. Perhaps there are no "written rules" about sitting on the floor of store to do anything, but common sense does seem to suggest that this is not an ideal location for any (lengthy) endeavor in a public store, and that it is perfectly reasonable that any store ask you to conduct whatever business in a more suitable location. In Hickman's situation, her opinion that it was "out of the way" is rather irrelevant - that really is the establishment's prerogative to determine.

As a just a consumer, I would be annoyed by someone sitting on the floor to do anything in Target. I'm there at least once a week, and space is tight in there, particularly in the clothing department, where the average shopper is pushing a cart. There is not a blessed square inch to spare when maneuvering around the perimeter of that store. Merchandise is stacked up against every wall, and if you are sitting there doing whatever, you are in the way of whoever might try to get by, or want to look at those clearance items.

Karla - posted on 01/02/2012

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From Krista, "No. She doesn't have every right to feed her baby anywhere. She has the right to feed her baby anywhere where she would normally be allowed to be."
I don't see that she was where she wouldn't normally be. I have often had to sit on the floor somewhere unexpected to tend to my child (whether hurt, or in need of a hug, having a fit, etc.) As stated, she was sitting in a place that was out of the way. Quite frankly, I've never seen any store rules that say sitting on the floor is not allowed. (Though I agree that had she been in the middle of an isle it would have been odd, but by all accounts she was not.)

I understand your point that good PR is imperative, but you seem to be arguing about what could have happened instead of what did happen in this case.

IMO, the mother was reasonable.

Celeste - posted on 01/02/2012

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And before I go on my run, as far as I know, there is no rule against sitting on the floor. Sure, you or I may not find this a good place to sit, but she, for some reason, felt it was a good decision at the time.

If there was a rule posted against sitting on the floor, then yes, I would say that she was partly in the wrong.

Celeste - posted on 01/02/2012

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The point of the nurse in is to show the business that we have a right to nurse there. And it's usually done peacefully. Not a big fan of the protest holding up signs, etc.

Target does have a policy, but they did not respond to Michelle Hickman and their response when she contacted corporate directly did not reflect their policy.

It's ridiculous that nursing mothers have to be held at a higher standard. Honestly, if it were up to the public, they'd have nursing moms nurse in their cars, bathrooms, with a cover.

Though, I understand what you're saying, given your pit bull experience (which, BTW, I totally agree with you about that)

Mary - posted on 01/02/2012

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But Celeste, what was the point of a nationwide nurse-in if not to sway public opinion? She already had the legal right to nurse in public. Target already had a policy (2006) which explicitly states it's support as well, and it's corporate office reiterated that support when it was made aware of the issue. Her "right" was upheld. The offense in question was that of individuals. She was not forcibly ejected from the store, made to stop, or told she could not nurse on their premises.

You can think it's unfair or not "right" that people rolled their eyes at her, or made her feel uncomfortable. Having the right to do something does not guarantee that those around you will "like" it, or refrain from expressing their opinions. The best way to protect yourself from this is to behave in a manner that is above reproach. It gives you all the power in the world, and makes it damned hard for others to criticize you.

I know of which I speak. One of my biggest passions in life are pit bulls There is a lot of public sentiment against my beloved breed. In my state, I have the legal "right" to own one. However, that does not free me from the judgement and negative verbal commentary of others. How do I best combat that? By being the most responsible and considerate of dog owners. I don't keep my dog locked up or hidden, but I also am very conscientious to never give anyone reason to complain or object to my dogs. I walk them daily - but never allow them off-leash unless it is in a legally sanctioned off-leash park. I do not leave them out in my yard unattended to bark or be a nuisance. I have spent countless hours of my life training them to be polite, well-behaved animals, and I do not slack off on that for a second. i don't hide them away, or refrain from letting them interact with others, but I am very, very vigilant in never allowing them to behave in an even remotely questionable manner. Is it "fair"? No - but the truth is, in my own quiet way, I know that I have changed the minds of numerous people within my neighborhood about this breed. They have watched me walking them with my daughter for over three years They have seen how they interact with her, strangers, and other dogs. By simply being a considerate and conscientious owner, and letting my dogs be themselves, I had the power to sway people's perception of a much misaligned breed, with nary a hostility exchanged.

Krista - posted on 01/02/2012

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@karla: No, nobody has portrayed her as a rabble-rousing pain in the ass...yet. But it WOULD be very easy to do so, which would result in a loss of sympathy for her cause. And that's my point.

Oh and regarding this? "and the fact that she has every right to feed her baby anywhere,"

No. She doesn't have every right to feed her baby anywhere. She has the right to feed her baby anywhere where she would normally be allowed to be. Having an infant attached to your breast is not an "all-access" card, allowing you to be places and do things that would normally be off-limits to you.

Yes, the employees were assholes, if this woman's account is correct. All that I am arguing is that because she decided to sit on the floor of a store, which PEOPLE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO NORMALLY DO, she automatically is damaged goods as a sympathetic spokesperson.

Karla - posted on 01/02/2012

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From Mary:
”What some of you conveniently seem to be overlooking in your rush to be indignant is that she chose to not utilize one of several less controversial options to fed her damned kid, ... You can take a minute or two to walk to a more appropriate location.”

What is your complaint? When I read the mother’s statements she specifically went to a place she felt WAS out of the way – and you claim she did not do this. IMO the mother’s account of the situation and her actions bear more weight then your account of it. (And your wording: “damned kid, “ is totally unnecessary.)

“Revel in self-righteous outrage and indignation all you want...this simply wasnot a situation that was ideal to garner public sympathy or support. “

I respectfully disagree. From the mother’s account of the situation I think it was not an overstatement to protest, whether or not it captured public sympathy. I believe the fact that she was harassed while feeding her baby (mother of 4 mind you,) and the fact that she has every right to feed her baby anywhere, is enough to warrant bringing this incident to the attention of the store and the public.

I don’t see myself as having self-righteous outrage about this, I feel perfectly justified in supporting this mother’s actions, and the subsequent protest.

On the other hand, I do not know the timeline of when the protest was planned and when the corporation announced their general support of breastfeeding and their plan to re-educate employees at that particular store. – That might lessen my support of the protest, but would have no effect on my support of the mother.

I do have sympathy for this particular mother because I know that I would have been mortified to be surround by what sounds like at least 4 (?) employees and told I could be reported for indecent exposure. That should never have happened. Furthermore, upon the mother’s initial contact with the corporate office she was not supported at all by that contact. (I wonder if they recorded that conversation.)

From Krista “this mother is WAY too easy to portray as a rabble-rousing pain in the ass.”
I’ve only seen a little bit about this protest. Did anyone portray the mother as a rabble-rousing pain the ass?

At any rate, my support is with the mother and the protest.

Celeste - posted on 01/02/2012

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Krista, I totally get what you're saying. Like I said before, if they had told her to move because she was in someone's way, or that she was a hazard, or what have you, I wouldn't have an issue. But, the issue was that she was harassed because she was nursing.

And frankly, if she was balancing her checkbook on the floor, I doubt anyone would have said anything to her..

Like I said, I can see both sides of the issue as far as being on the floor, but I still stand by the nurse in.

Krista - posted on 01/02/2012

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Sure, she has the right to nurse in public. Does she have the right to park her arse on the floor of the store, though? Not really.

If I sat down on the floor at Loblaw's, even if it was out of the way, and started balancing my chequebook, I would fully expect someone to come up to me and say, "Ma'am, this is not a seating area. There are seating areas near the lunch counter, if you'd like to move over there."

Nobody's saying I'm not allowed to BE in that section of the store. And nobody's saying that the mother wasn't allowed to BE in that section of Target. But when you're running a place of business, you can't just have people plunking themselves onto the floor, willy-nilly.

I'm not saying she wasn't wronged. I'm just speaking purely about the the effectiveness of nurse-ins and public protests, from a public relations viewpoint. And I am simply offering my opinion that if you ARE going to protest, and make yourself a public champion for a cause, then you need to understand that any missteps on your part can and WILL detract from the effectiveness of your protest and your messaging. So in this situation, the nurse-in will likely not be effective, because right from the get-go, this mother is WAY too easy to portray as a rabble-rousing pain in the ass. Take that advice or leave it, as you will. But I'm not hauling this information out of my ass -- it's pretty common PR knowledge.

Celeste - posted on 01/02/2012

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The law is that mother can nurse anywhere she is allowed to be. Not that she has to nurse in an appropriate place. I'm going to take her word. Every single time that a mother is harassed, the public tears her to pieces, even IF she was in an appropriate area. I've seen it time and time again. I'm not going to nitpick about what she should've done, where she should've done it and so on.

I don't expect public opinion to change and frankly, I don't care about public opinion. The fact remains she has the right to nurse in public and I will support it..

Mary - posted on 01/02/2012

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Your Targets must be a helluva lot more spacious than the ones in my region. There is not a single inch of wall space that doesn't have some type of merchandise on it, unless it is a space specifically designated for customers to sit down. If she had been shopping at any one of the Targets, Walmarts, Best Buys or whatever, she would have been blocking something.

But to be honest - that is really beside the point. What some of you conveniently seem to be overlooking in your rush to be indignant is that she chose to not utilize one of several less controversial options to fed her damned kid. A hungry 5 month old is not an emergency situation that requires or justifies a mother ignoring general social courtesies. You can take a minute or two to walk to a more appropriate location.

Mothers absolutely have a right to nurse their children in public locations - but they also have a responsibility to remain considerate of those around them if they wish to remain free of public scrutiny.

The OP was originally asking about the impact that nurse-ins have on public awareness and opinion - and whether something like the Target incident may cause more harm than good. Revel in self-righteous outrage and indignation all you want...this simply was not a situation that was ideal to garner public sympathy or support. In light of Hickman's questionable behavior, and the lack of documented outrageous statements made by employees "harassing" her in any mainstream media ( the more outrageous claims only appear in her email to BFB, which is only viewed by a very small, select viewership)...well, to the average Target shopper, the whole thing is going to seem pretty silly. Combine this with the fact that Target did, in fact respond with it's already existent policy that supports breastfeeding within it's stores, as well as re-educating the employees at the store in question...again, staging a country-wide nurse-in seems like a bit of an overblown, drama-seeking response where none was warranted. That's the kind of crap that is more likely to cause the general public to shrug their shoulders and roll their eyes...if they even bother to notice at all.

Celeste - posted on 01/02/2012

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I agree with Laura and Karla. She was out of the way. No one saw her, except the employees. Nothing was blocked, she wasn't in anyone's way. Had she been in someone's way, sure, I can understand an employee asking her to move. But, she was harassed simply because she was nursing.

I will support her right to breastfeed. I NIP everywhere, and sure, I didn't sit on the floor, but I'm not going to judge and chastise her because she chose to sit on the floor. To me, where she sat is a moot point. The point was she was harassed because she was nursing and that is unacceptable.

Merry - posted on 01/02/2012

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I personally wasn't sitting in a walkway. I was sitting back to the wall by the racks of clothes. So no walkways were blocked. I assume the same could be true for this lady.

I'm fairly confident that the floors are no more dirty then the food court area or the handrails by the check out lines, or the doorknobs to the bathrooms.

I AM kind of germophobic when it comes to my infants and I feel as long as they aren't touching the floor then they really aren't being exposed to the nasty floor germs. Only thing exposed is my butt and my babys really never come in contact to the butt of my pants!



Could she have found a better place to sit? Sure.

But NO one should be bothering a nursing mom, or any mom, or any person simply for sitting on the floor.

I think they were really bothered by the baby to boob action because I find it hard to believe that this would have happened if it was simply a single woman who sat down for no apparent reason. I'd assume employees would not even bother to approach a woman just sitting on the floor. They'd think what a weirdo and move on. We KNOW some people have hang ups about breastfeeding in public I'm quite certain this has all to do with the breasts involved and NOT the sitting on the floor part.



Besides, how vulnerable would you feel with employees circling you towering over you like that?

Karla - posted on 01/01/2012

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If a breastfeeding mom was told she could be reported for indecent exposure, I think where she chose to sit is a minor point, she should be able to nurse sitting down, standing up, walking or sitting on the floor. (She stated she was near the fitting room, in a remote area, and no non-employee people even saw her!) She was not being obnoxious or flagrant about it, and was treated poorly by the staff. After reading her statement and the following article I am glad a nurse-in was organized. Good job to all who participated.

Merry - posted on 01/01/2012

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Yeah it's dirty but I guess it's just my butt!
Maybe it's rude, maybe inconsiderate, but it sure isn't something the store should be harassing anyone over.
Im sure if it was a diabetic woman who sat down from being lightheaded no one would say she was in the wrong.

Mary - posted on 01/01/2012

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Yeah - not a fan of that, or people stopping mid-aisle while talking on their cellphones either.

Is it "wrong"? I'm not sure that's the right word for it. I guess it's more about displaying a general disregard or lack of courtesy for those around you.

Not to mention...why would you want to sit on the floor of any store - especially one like a Target? I'm the furthest thing from a germaphobe, but I typically hit a Target-type store once a week, and I'm usually wearing my running shoes - the same ones that I just walked the dogs a couple of miles in, and have most likely trekked through all types of excrement, mud, and muck - and that's just me. Countless other shoppers are tracking in their nastiness on their shoes as well. Not really the place I'd want to sit and do much of anything, including feeding my baby.

Merry - posted on 01/01/2012

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So Mary of I was shopping and my friend was browsing and I was tired and sat down without a baby to talk while she shopped would that also be wrong? As I said only one group of ladies even came by me and they were just passing through the section. The lady in this case said no customers even saw her!

No one was inconvenienced. What if she felt faint and sat down? Idk, I just see no real issue with sitting down in a store for a bit for any reason. As long as its a low traffic area.

Celeste - posted on 01/01/2012

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Right and from her interviews, it sounded like she was off to the side, and out of the way.

Merry - posted on 01/01/2012

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Right I just don't see the big deal about her being on the floor. Odd? Maybe. But not wrong IMO. Especially if she was off to the side or by a wall.
Yes I usually find a chair to nurse in but they never said why she chose the floor. She *might* have had a decent reason.

Mary - posted on 01/01/2012

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Yeah, Laura, I do think that's a poor choice of location. Again, it's not about how you are feeding your baby. As a shopper, I'd be equally annoyed if you were bottle feeding, or giving your toddler a snack of cheerios. Places like Target have ample locations where you can feed your kid (in whatever fashion you choose) without running the risk of being in someone's way. As I said earlier, the dressing room just never crossed my mind as an option. "My" Target (as well as my grocery store) has a waiting area with a couple of benches near the pharmacy that I used on the odd occasion I needed to feed her when we were out.

I'll say it again...I unequivocally support a mother's right to nurse her child in public. I do not think that right entitles her to be oblivious to the world around her. In fact, I resent those who do; it makes it harder for moms like me.

Celeste - posted on 01/01/2012

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No Laura, I don't think you were in the wrong. Now, maybe if you were in the middle of the aisle? LOL My point was that many people are focusing on the fact that she was on the floor and my point is that people make decisions that people may not view as smart or right. She thought, for whatever reason, that maybe sitting on the floor was the right thing for her to do at that particular moment.

Merry - posted on 01/01/2012

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Are you saying I was wrong? I feel it was fine. I don't think I did anything wrong. Idk where this lady was sitting or if she was with someone who was browsing but....

Celeste - posted on 01/01/2012

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Right Laura, sometimes, people make decisions that we wouldn't agree with.I doubt all of us make the "right" decision 100% all of the time.

Celeste - posted on 01/01/2012

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Oh, I don't disagree that sitting on the floor was not a good decision.

I have a hard time believing that she'd want to cause controversy. As I stated before, moms are usually accused of causing controversy, causing a scene, wanting attention when they share their stories of being harassed.

As far as her actions, like I said, sitting on the floor wasn't a good decision, but I doubt she was expecting to be harassed.

Again, I see where you're coming from about sitting on the floor. And again, if she was asked to move for her own safety, I wouldn't see a problem. But she was harassed *BECAUSE* she was nursing, not because she was sitting on the floor.

Merry - posted on 01/01/2012

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Well what do you all think of the situation I posted, I was almost exactly the same situation. was I wrong? If someone had asked me to move it would have been illegal. In my state you are not allowed to ask a nursing mom to move or cover. I picked a good spot out of the way but yes I was in the ladies section and I was on the floor

Mary - posted on 01/01/2012

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Celeste, a couple of things just don't add up for me in this whole scenario. I've read several articles on this in addition to the one whose link I posted in my first post. As well, I watched an interview with Hickman on one of the local news stations. The summation of events seems vastly different from the link you posted, and her claims to non-biased sources are much less inflammatory than her email asking others to support her nurse-in. Another little red flag in her letter to Best for Babes is her inclusion of this little nugget "...not a single non-employee customer ever saw the incident...". It makes me a little cynical and suspicious that this woman may have been exaggerating her experience a bit for the sake of creating controversy. In this day and age of media hype, I find it hard to believe that if any employee had threatened her in such a manner, and she shared that with the press, those allegations wouldn't have been plastered all over the place.



However, as Krista has pointed out, if her own behavior had been above reproach, she would have made a much greater rallying point for her cause. It also doesn't help that Target did respond by reiterating it's 2006 policy that is supportive of public nursing, as well as a statement that it was reviewing this policy with the employees of that particular store. I'm not sure what else would have been considered "enough"..a public flogging of these specific employees?



It's yet another reason why this specific nurse-in seemed sort of stupid and pointless to me.



I took the Times article down to my sister's house today to see what my family's reaction would be. I should note that I come from a very pro-breastfeeding family. My sister nursed both of her kids for well over a year, and my mother breastfed both of us (back in the 70's, when almost no one did). Every single one of them had a very similar response..."What the hell made her think sitting on the floor of the shopping area was an appropriate place to feed her baby?" Not a single one of them thought it was unreasonable that she be asked to relocate. No one is condoning any "harassing" behavior that she may have endured after she refused to move, but they all thought she was an ignorant fool for where she chose to nurse.

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