Target Nurse-In draws attention to breastfeeding rights

Friday, December 30, 2011 | 12:27 p.m. CST; updated 12:35 p.m. CST, Friday, December 30, 2011

COLUMBIA — A recent incident where a Texas woman who was breastfeeding her child was harassed by some employees in a Target store culminated in an organized “Target Nurse-In” on Wednesday.

Nursing women were encouraged to go to their local store at 10 a.m. Wednesday and show their support by simply breast-feeding their child in the store.

Some Missouri cities joined the cause. Jessica Bradley organized the Nurse-In at the Tiffany Springs MarketCenter Target in Kansas City. Bradley and Gilmer, her 7-month-old baby, were joined by four other mothers with their nursing-age children, three older children and two non-nursing adults who were there in support.

"We were all there to support the mother from Texas who had bad experiences, but also to support all nursing mothers who have to nurse in public, so they may not have to feel humiliated to do something so natural and take care of their baby's needs whenever and wherever they are," Bradley said.

Bradley said the group received praise from store employees for what they were doing, and Bradley said she thanked the store manager for her support of mothers wherever they chose to nurse.

A manager at the Columbia Target said he hadn’t seen anything going on in the store Wednesday.

Stacia Smith, a spokeswoman for Target, said the store continually educated its team members on the stores policies to ensure shoppers have the best experience.

“As a family-oriented retailer, Target has a long-standing corporate policy that supports breastfeeding in our stores,” Smith said.

Smith said guests who want to breastfeed in public are free to do so, and they’re also welcome to use the fitting rooms for privacy.

Even though some people may be uncomfortable with a mother breastfeeding in public, the law is in favor of nursing mothers.

A federal law enacted in 1999 provided that women could breastfeed in federal buildings and on federal property, and since then numerous states have enacted legislation to legalize nursing in other public locations.

The Missouri law states that a mother may, with as much discretion as possible, breastfeed her child in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.

While another Missouri law requires hospitals to provide new mothers with a breastfeeding consultation, there are also other places that supply mothers with further support and resources.

Stephanie Rodriguez, a lactation specialist at Women, Infants and Children, provides consultations and education on breastfeeding. Rodriguez has a pamphlet specifically about how to breastfeed in public "while staying fabulous." The pamphlet suggests different ways to do it, such as using a nursing room, nursing with a cover or in a sling and nursing around your clothes.

In addition to WIC, at 1005 West Worley St., Rodriguez also suggested La Leche League, which meets in the Unitarian Universalist Church, at 2615 Shepard Blvd., and Green Meadows Pediatrics Clinic, at 3217 South Providence Road, as breastfeeding resources in the community.

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