Last week, Hillsborough, NH resident Jane Healy was dining at the Tooky Mills Pub -- a neighborhood restaurant where she's on a first-name basis with the servers -- with her 10-month old baby. He was getting fussy, WMUR reports, so Healy started breastfeeding.
According to the news station, other diners were offended by Jane's exposed breast, and they complained. Tooky Mills' manager, Jodie Bean, then asked Healy to cover up. Bean described to WMUR what she told Healy -- "I am not by any means asking you not to feed your baby, but could you use a little bit of coverage, so that everybody's comfortable," she said.
However, it is legal to nurse in public in New Hampshire, and Healy was offended by the implication that she was doing something wrong. She decided to leave.
The next time she went back to Tooky Mills, she brought friends -- dozens of other moms and babies. The group gathered outside the restaurant with signs that said things like "I make milk! What's your superpower?" and "Nursing is the breast," the Concord Monitor reports.
The point of the protest, Healy told WMUR, was to raise awareness. "You can breastfeed in public, and you're covered by New Hampshire state law, and what they did was wrong by asking me to cover up," she said.
Healy's experience is exactly why Rachel Papantonakis organized this past weekend's Great Nurse-In -- a 600-mom demonstration which took place in Washington D.C., timed to National Breastfeeding Week. In preparation for the event, Papantonakis wrote on Facebook that she had read too many stories of moms who were harassed for nursing in public. She declared it was time to "demystify breastfeeding and make it as commonplace as bottle-feeding to [a] passersby." And, many mothers have organized similar protests after being shamed everywhere from Target to Facebook.
As moms who participate in nurse-ins often point out, the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization agree that breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for baby. For this reason, and because there are laws in many places that say women can nurse in public, they aim to make sure breastfeeding mothers are supported, not shamed.
At Tooky Mills Pub, owner Sean Burt, sought to clarify his restaurant's intentions. "We weren't trying to upset her or embarrass her, but it's also our responsibility to the rest of our staff and to our customers to look out for their best interests and their rights," he told WMUR.