Lactating Blogger Says Boob to Fred Meyer

Contributing Editor Mary Tsao also blogs at Mom Writes.

"On April 4th I sat down on a bench at the Gateway Fred Meyer to nurse my two-month-old son. It was about five o'clock on a busy Tuesday afternoon. The last place I wanted to be nursing was in that spot as it was noisy and distracting, but at the time, I couldn't think of better place to attend to my baby's needs."

And so begins the first post of blogger the Reluctant Lactivist, a nursing mother who was told by the store manager at her local Fred Meyer, a superstore chain in the Pacific Northwest, that several customers had complained about her public display of breastfeeding.

Even though she advised the store manager that Oregon law protects her right to breastfeed her baby in public, she still felt humiliated. And upset. She took her concerns to Fred Meyer's East Portland/SW Wash Operations Supervisor, and writes, "he supported the store manager's claim that I should have been more "discreet" and that three people had complained."

The Reluctant Activist (as she now saw herself) turned to the Internet as the perfect public forum in which to tell her story with the hope of getting Fred Meyer:

1. To make a clear company-wide policy that mothers have a right to breastfeed in their stores without being asked to move, hide, cover up, or leave.

2. To train all employees that breastfeeding is different from other behaviors that customers might complain about (such as loud music, offensive language, etc.), and that employees are never to ask a breastfeeding mother to move, hide, cover up, or leave. Instead employees can advise the complaining customer to avert their eyes or move to a different part of the store.

3. To make the public aware of this policy.

She is asking that supportive parties write to Fred Meyer and explain why the above points are important for nursing mothers as well as for Fred Meyer, a chain of stores that many lactating women (and those who support them!) shop at regularly.

Stefania Butler from Blogging Baby is helping to spread the word about the letter writing campaign, too.

As a former lactating mama, it's hard for me to write objectively about this type of treatment towards a nursing mother. I have nursed my children in more stores and restaurants than I can count and it was usually their idea, not mine. When your child is hungry, you feed her. That is the job of a mother, especially one who is the sole provider of sustenance for her child.

But I will leave you with brilliant and honest Marrit Ingram's take on this event:

"American people want their lives to be totally antiseptic. We want to float around all day long in our individual bubbles of privacy and personal comfort. The world is our living room, and we want everyone on their company manners. If you don't like mothers and babies, then by all means they should be expected to hide from you and not offend. It's their problem, not yours. What's a three-month-old doing in a store anyway? Aren't you supposed to be on house arrest? Don't you know that children annoy all the Real People who have a right to assembly? You might inconvenience someone.

These are strange times. Women are losing our reproductive rights, but we're expected to raise children entirely in private without burdening anyone."

[Photo credit: Mary Tsao]

Mary Tsao | Mom Writes


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