We had a hunch that mistreatment of moms for nursing in public was commonplace. It’s why we launched the first ever Breastfeeding Harassment Hotline last month, giving moms from all across the nation a centralized place to report and document the incidents of harassment and discrimination they’ve faced while nourishing their children. This new resource is just one of the tools we at Best for Babes are using to shine a spotlight on and eliminate the Breastfeeding Booby Traps® — the cultural, legal and institutional barriers that prevent moms from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals. Breastfeeding is not just a legal right, it’s a human and a civil right and as such a a civic responsibility.
Sadly, we were right. During its first month of operation, 855-NIP-FREE received eighteen reports of harassment. These calls included:
- A nursing pair who was forced to cover up by a flight attendant during a flight
- Two moms who were harassed 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 or workshops while attempting to feed or pump for their children
- Three mothers were harassed at a retail establishment for nursing in public
- Three nursing pairs who were discriminated against at restaurants
- One mom who was told she could not breastfeed at her local zoo
- A mother who was asked to cover up at the department of motor vehicles
- A woman who was asked to participate in a product survey but was refused when she explained she would need to nurse during the interview
- A mom who was at a public event and was told to cover up by a police officer who was well-aware that the law in her state allowed her to nurse uncovered
In addition to these cases of harassment, we also received a call from a university asking for advice on how to properly accommodate a pumping student.
Members of the Best for Babes Take Action team are working tirelessly to promptly return these calls and help the aggrieved mothers navigate through what can be an extremely difficult, stressful time. In some cases, moms were calling to simply share their stories with a sympathetic ear, which is exactly what the hotline is all about. Many of the mothers our volunteers spoke with want to do more to change the way businesses and society treat nursing pairs. Best for Babes Take Action volunteer Emily Mohajeri Norris has taken the lead on instituting corporate policy changes on behalf of at least half a dozen moms and Dionna Ford is working with one mother to help strengthen her state’s laws.
It takes a lot of courage to share these stories and we want to thank each of these women for coming forward. We hope to one day turn each of these negative nursing experiences into a positive. We are compiling these unfortunate incidents, along with any others that are reported to the hotline in the future, into a comprehensive record that we will use to help bring about change at the societal, institutional and legislative levels. This database could play a huge part in banishing the Breastfeeding Booby Traps® forever!
The hotline’s first month yielded many calls, but we know that, unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. That’s why it’s vital that we keep 855-NIP-FREE alive. The hotline is currently being funded through the $5 to Keep It Alive donation drive. Every dollar raised goes toward the operating costs attached to 855-NIP-FREE. We appreciate all of the generous donations we have received so far and encourage you to consider donating today if you haven’t already done so.
Finally, it’s also very important to continue spreading the word! Take Action team member Christie Haskell has created wonderful banners and buttons for bloggers to display on their websites to help advertise the hotline. And you can now purchase bumper stickers and business cards to share with nursing moms you meet while out and about. We want all breastfeeding mothers to be aware of this resource so that they can take advantage of it should a need arise, so please keep sharing!
How many moms do you know that have been harassed for nursing in public?