Nursing out in Boston
Today, Becky, Catherine and I drove down to South Weymouth to attend the iParty-sponsored “Nurse-Out.” In case you hadn’t heard, Brockton cardiologist Dr. Melissa Tracy was recently told that she couldn’t breastfeed her baby while at their South Weymouth store. The owner of the chain has since established a policy that instructs employees to allow mothers to nurse in the store wherever is most comfortable for them. On top of that, they hosted the “Nurse-Out” event that we attended today. A number of moms from the Mothering.com forums as well as the South Shore Breastfeeding Club were there with their kids. Some of them we had met last Sunday when the SSBFC had a nurse-out on the Boston Common. Dr. Tracy and her husband were also in attendance, as were the owners of the iParty chain. There were at least two television camera crews there, and some of the moms engaged the owners in on-camera discussion about the store’s policy in support of breastfeeding. (If you’re in the Boston area, you might want to keep an eye out on WCVB (Channel 5) to see if they run a story on their website or on the TV news in the next few days…)
There are some bills in the works in Massachusetts to specifically give mothers the right to breastfeed in public, and to that end, the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition is promoting May 9 as Breastfeeding Lobbying Day. Moms from across the state, including Becky, will be visiting the Massachusetts State House to lobby on the issue with their state government representatives. Having such laws on the books would not only enable currently-breastfeeding mothers to nurse more conveniently while out and about, but it should also help make expectant mothers more likely to choose breastfeeding, knowing that they’d be free to do it.
It’s good to see iParty leading the way in support of breastfeeding in public. Sure, throwing the nurse out party was good publicity and probably resulted in creating some sales and new customers, and I doubt the owners would ever spend money on something that wasn’t going to help their bottom line. But it also shows that of the things they could choose to spend their money on, they’re spending it on issues that really matter. The laws currently on the books in Massachusetts don’t have any special provisions that protect a mother’s right to breastfeed, and inside a place of business it is up to the owner as to how breastfeeding will be handled. Many business owners probably don’t have any specific policy allowing it, and thus it is handled on a case-by-case basis. Private businesses can make changes much more quickly than government can, so that’s why it’s a good thing for iParty to show this kind of support. Hopefully other businesses will follow suit and create policies for and awareness of breastfeeding. Once the idea starts to get some traction in the private sector, that might lend some fuel to government-based efforts.
In addition to the corporate and government levels, breastfeeding advocates also need to work on a person-by-person basis. There is currently a lack of understanding of breastfeeding in the general population. It is certainly a person’s right to feel how they want about the issue, but it’s unfortunate if that feeling stems from misconceptions or bad information. Sometimes talking to just one person who is uninformed or misinformed about the facts of breastfeeding can mean all of the difference. At today’s Nurse Out, Becky talked to two young women from out of state who just happened to be in the area and wanted to see what was going on. Not that they were ill-informed or against breastfeeding, but I think she left a favorable impression of breastfeeding with them. Hopefully they’ll go on to become breastfeeding mothers or at least support their friends who are.
If you have any questions about breastfeeding, please feel free to ask Becky or me. I can at least speak from the perspective of a supporting spouse, but Becky’s the real expert. 🙂 You could also ask Catherine, but I think she’d just say “Mmmmmmm!” 🙂
You can see some photos from today’s iParty nurse-out. Enjoy!