NIP Hotline News: 8 Harassment Incidences in First Week

On October 1, 2012 Best for Babes launched the first ever Nursing In Public Hotline. This new resource is just one of the tools we are using to help shine spotlight on and banish the Breastfeeding Booby Traps and raise awareness about the human, civil and legal rights of nursing pairs. The hotline is designed to give moms a place to report incidents of NIP harassment and to connect them with our team of knowledgeable volunteers who are standing by to provide support and help them navigate through what can be an extremely difficult time.

In the first week since 855-NIP-FREE officially launched, we received 32 calls from mothers and breastfeeding supporters from all across the country. Eight of those calls were from moms who recently experienced some form of harassment while attempting to provide breastmilk for their babies. These incidents included:

  • A nursing pair who was forced to cover up by a flight attendant during a flight
  • A mom asked to feed her baby in the bathroom while at a place of worship
  • A mother who was told she could only breastfeed in the bathroom or the break room of a health care professional’s office
  • Four moms who faced issues at schools while attempting to feed or pump for their children
  • A mother who was harassed at a retail establishment for nursing in public

These calls were promptly returned by a member of the Best for Babes Take Action team to review the aggrieved mother’s options and to lend support and validation. In many of these cases, our volunteers are assisting the moms with pursuing efforts to change corporate policy. In another, we’re working with the mother to help strengthen her state’s laws. Still in other cases, the moms were just calling to share their stories and nothing more.

We want to thank each of these women for coming forward and the dozens of others who either called out of curiosity or to share words of encouragement. The sheer volume of calls received this week further underlines the necessity for change at the societal, institutional and legislative levels. We’re using the hotline, not only as a way to support nursing pairs facing discrimination, but also a comprehensive record to illustrate just how widespread this harassment is. In time, this database will be used to continue our fight to institute change.

In order to keep 855-NIP-FREE alive and thriving, we are asking all of our readers to continue to spread the word about the hotline. Share it on your blog and Twitter feed, with your Facebook friends and mommy groups. We want all nursing mothers to be aware of this resource. Additionally, we’re currently holding the $5 to Keep It Alive donation drive. Every dollar raised will go toward the operating costs attached to the hotline. You can purchase business cards and bumper stickers to distribute to nursing moms and further help spread the word. Please consider donating.



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7 Comments | Last revised on 10/09/2012


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7 Responses to NIP Hotline News: 8 Harassment Incidences in First Week

  1. Ronna says:

    This has got to be the most absurd thing I’ve heard: “A mother who was told she could only breastfeed in the bathroom or the break room of a health care professional’s office” Really?! A health care professional banning nursing moms to the bathroom?!

  2. Amy Clark says:

    I’m not sure if y’all are interested in “older” stories, but when my son (now 6 months old) was just a few weeks old, I sat down on a bench in the dressing room area of Wal mart to nurse him. The employee about had a heart attack! She kept saying, “you should go in there (the dressing room)” with great urgency. I just sat there and smiled at her and told her, “no thank you, we are fine right here.” I sat there, much to her chagrin, until my son was finished nursing and then went on our way. Also, my local YMCA has been horrible about my nursing: I am fairly certain they changed their policy about parents being in the nursery because I nursed my then-two-month-old son a couple of times (in the infant area, facing away from other people, sitting in a high-back rocker, with a blanket). After a couple of instances, they told me I couldn’t nurse in there anymore. I asked why,and they said they didn’t know what to tell parents if their children asked what I was doing. A week or so later, they told me that there was a rule that said parents couldn’t be present in the nursery longer than just a moment to drop off their children, and I was directed to the family bathroom to nurse. It is a wet, cold cement block room with a toilet and a shower. I refused, and the staff was stimied when I asked for a better location. They tried to suggest that I nurse in an unoccupied exercise room (wood floors, no chairs, lots of mirrors), and then suggested I nurse in the massage therapy room. I did, but it turns out I have to walk the entire length of the weight/workout room and ask permission to enter the locked massage therapy room every time I want to use it. Since then I have just nursed him in the car. Not comfortable, but I feel I have little choice.

    • Rhonda says:

      Hey why don’t you just lug a bottle of formula for “just in case” IM KIDDING! Please report that…your feeding your baby, one more story that gets attention brings awarness and will NORMALIZE breastfeeding…

    • Lynn says:

      Depending on what state you’re in that could be illegal. Many states have laws saying that a woman has a right to nurse anywhere she is legally allowed to be. You can find out here: http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/breastfeeding-state-laws.aspx

      Also, it might not be all the to the top of management. The nursery staff could have just decided this on their own. Perhaps start climbing up the management ladder to find out.

    • Larissa says:

      Hi Amy–

      I am collecting stories for a documentary I’m producing about nursing in public. Can you please contact me? coverupdocumentary@gmail.com

      This needs to be shared. Thanks.

      And if anyone else has a story they’d like to share about this type of harassment, feel free to use the same email address to get in touch with me. It’s up to us mama’s to make people aware that this is happening and that it’s unacceptable.

  3. Stacy says:

    I can say I have not actually had an incident, though I am alwasy terrified of one happening when I nurse. I nursed all 3 of my babes and am currently nursing my 17mo old. I am always prepared for it and on alert for someone to give me a hard time, thankfully it has not happened…yet. I will say that if an employee or an establishment tried to confront me I will, without a doubt refer them to the law in my state (NJ). I can and will nurse wherever my child is permited (including the nursery of a YMCA like the post above) if I need to feed my child. I hate that we have to feel this way simply because we are doing what is best for our children. Its absurd.

  4. Kellie Abrahamson says:

    Amy, I strongly recommend you call the hotline to share your stories, especially if your YMCA issue is on-going. We’ve been keeping track of NIP harassment incidents at the Y and have found 23 (!!!) since 2004. I’m sure one of our hotline volunteers would be happy to help.

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