On December 8th, Claire Jones-Hughes invited mothers to participate in a breastfeeding flash mob. She'd been told to stop feeding her baby in a cafe and was fed up. As the founder of Brightonmums.com, she tapped into her online community to spread the word. "We have chosen a central public venue, where there is space to be seated but also be noticed," she wrote.
And, she followed up with a purposeful column in The Guardian.
"After being verbally attacked for not covering up while feeding my four-month-old, I decided it was time to make a statement to show that mothers will no longer tolerate being harassed for feeding our babies in public."
That day, 40 moms showed up at the Clock Tower and breastfed their babies in front of Christmas shoppers.
The event wasn't the first of its kind in the UK: "Women in both London and Manchester staged flash mobs for National Breastfeeding Awareness week in June. But it is part of a growing trend," Jones-Hughes wrote.
Similar events have taken place in the US. In June, parents held a "nurse-in" on a sidewalk in Illinois to protest after Nichole Eidsmoe was asked to stop breastfeeding her child in a store. Illinois is one of the 28 states that exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws.
While there is no shortage of information on the benefits of breastfeeding -- the AAP recommends nursing until 6 months and lactivist groups including La Leche League are dedicated to educating moms -- there seems to be a disconnect between the "breast is best" push and public comfort with the act.
Earlier this week, Simone dos Santos was accused of public indecency -- by two female security guards -- for feeding her child in a government building. In November, when a breastfeeding mom was asked to leave a courtroom by a district judge, her post on BabyCenter caused a national uproar.
Many moms admit to feeling uncomfortable feeding their babies in public. A 2009 poll by Mother & Baby magazine found that 65% of moms in the UK were too self-conscious to even try. In the US, 41% of women who have breastfed or plan to breastfeed, said they'd only do so in private, according to a survey conducted by TheBump.com.
In an attempt to reverse the stigma, moms and advocates have taken their support offline and onto the streets. "The flashmob modus operandi fits perfectly with breastfeeding. A large group of mums feeding together creates an extraordinary sight. It's the most obvious way to show support, sitting side by side feeding our children," Jones-Hughes wrote.
Watch out, Occupy Wall Street.
Claire Jones-Hughes' story is (unfortunately) not unique. Click through below to see other places where women have been reprimanded for breastfeeding:
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