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.
At A Middle School
When <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/18/school-principal-gives-letter-breastfeeding-mom_n_5600505.html" target="_blank">Andrea Scannell</a> took her children to eat at a summer lunch program at Mount Logan Middle School in Utah, she decided to nurse her infant while there. Before leaving, a school employee handed her a complaint letter from the principal, which went viral after her husband <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/2aw6ob/my_wife_was_handed_this_formal_complaint_about/" target="_blank">uploaded a photo of it to Reddit</a>. The letter asked Scannell to "discretely feed the baby, whether with a small blanket or in a more private area while the lunch program is taking place." After garnering a lot of online support, Scannell organized a nurse-in at the school.
At An Amusement Park
Renee Villatoro was nursing her baby at the Kentucky Kingdom amusement park when <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/18/kentucky-kingdom-breastfeeding_n_5591909.html?utm_hp_ref=breastfeeding" target="_blank">an employee told her to move to the bathroom</a>. After the incident, she and her fellow mothers' support group members flooded the park's Facebook page with comments and questions about its breastfeeding policy.
Employees at a Walmart in Greenville, SC verbally harassed and mocked Shawnee Colabella when she nursed her child in the store. When the mother told her breastfeeding support group about her experience, the members of the Facebook group "Upstate SC Breastfeeders" <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/09/breastfeeding-group-plans-walmart-nurse-in_n_5570535.html?utm_hp_ref=breastfeeding" target="_blank">organized a nurse-in</a>.
At A Homeless Shelter
When Karen Penley tried to nurse her son in the Oahu homeless shelter Institute For Human Services, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/01/homeless-mom-faces-discrimination-for-breastfeeding_n_5548351.html" target="_blank">a worker reportedly told her to either cover herself or relocate</a>. Penley described the exchange to <a href="http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/25901442/homeless-mother-fights-to-breastfeed-in-public" target="_blank">HawaiiNewsNow</a>: "He's like, ‘You must cover to nurse your baby.' And I was like, ‘I have the right not to cover.' And he goes, ‘I have the right to refuse services.' In other words…kick me out, make me leave."
When Karlesha Thurman posted a photo of herself breastfeeding during her graduation from The California State University, Long Beach on social media, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/09/mom-shamed-by-internet-for-breastfeeding-at-graduation_n_5474420.html" target="_blank">she received a lot of negative comments on Twitter</a>.
At Bob Evans
Kristina Gray was breastfeeding her son while waiting to be seated at a Bob Evans in Tampa, Florida. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/06/bob-evans-breastfeeding-apology_n_5460744.html?utm_hp_ref=breastfeeding" target="_blank">A female employee approached her and asked her to cover up.</a> After the incident, Gray posted her complain on the restaurant chain's Facebook page and organized a nurse-in.
At Victoria's Secret
While at a Victoria's Secret in Texas, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/16/victorias-secret-breastfeeding-mom-_n_4611310.html?utm_hp_ref=breastfeeding" target="_blank">Ashley Clawson</a> asked an employee if she could nurse her child in a dressing room. She was not only denied, but directed to go to the nearest alleyway.
Brittany Warfield, a mother of three from Texas, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/07/hollister-nurse-in_n_2425541.html" target="_blank">was nursing her 7-month-old outside of a Hollister store in a Houston mall, she says a manager forced her to move</a>. “He said, ‘You can’t do this here. This is not where you do that. You can’t do that on Hollister property. We don’t allow that.’ I said, ‘It’s Texas. I can breastfeed anywhere I like.’ He said, ‘Not at Hollister. Your stroller is blocking the way. You have to go,’” she recalls.
Mom and breastfeeding advocate <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/12/emma-kwasnica-breastfeeding-mom-facebook_n_1203198.html" target="_hplink">Emma Kwasnica</a>had posted over 200 photos on Facebook of herself nursing her own three children and told the Huffington Post that her account has been suspended at least five times as a result. She organized a nurse-in in front of Facebook headquarters to challenge the company's policy that says photos depicting breastfeeding are "inappropriate."
Houston mother Michelle Hickman says she was <a href="http://www.bestforbabes.org/target-employees-bully-breastfeeding-mom-despite-corporate-policy" target="_hplink">harassed and humiliated by Target staff </a>when she found a quiet space in the store to breastfeed her infant. She organized an international "nurse-in" at several Target locations on Tuesday December 28th. Pictured above is mom who participated, Brittany Hinson and her 4-month-old son, Kennedy, in front of the Super Target store, in Webster, Texas.
At A Cafe
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/16/breastfeeding-flash-mob_n_1153963.html?ref=parents" target="_hplink">Claire Jones-Hughes wrote</a>: "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." She then staged a breastfeeding flash mob at the Clock Tower in Brighton, UK.
In A Government Building
Simone dos Santos was breastfeeding her four-month-old in the hallway of a D.C. government building when <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/14/simone-dos-santos_n_1148455.html#s542782&title=McDonalds_" target="_hplink">two female security guards told her to stop</a> because it was indecent. "I was shocked, upset and angry that by providing food for my son, I was being treated like a criminal," she wrote in a blog post for the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/therootdc/post/dc-guard-no-breastfeeding-in-public/2011/12/12/gIQA2xYvtO_blog.html" target="_hplink">Washington Post</a>.
In The Courtroom
In November, Natalie Hegedus, a Michigan resident, was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/14/natalie-hegedus-courtroom-breastfeeding_n_1089271.html" target="_hplink">asked to leave a courtroom</a> by a district judge. Her post on the community forum, <a href="http://community.babycenter.com/post/a30189175/bf_inappropriate_judge_thinks_so" target="_hplink">BabyCenter</a>, caused a national uproar.
In Another Courtroom
In August 2010, Nicole House was asked to leave the courtroom because a bailiff noticed her breastfeeding.
On A Bus
This past June, a mom was <a href="http://blogs.babycenter.com/mom_stories/07052011breastfeeding-mom-harassed-on-city-bus/" target="_hplink">harassed by a bus driver</a> for breastfeeding on a Detroit-area bus.
On A Plane
Back in 2006, 27-year-old mom, Emily Gillette, was <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15720339/ns/travel-news/t/woman-kicked-plane-breast-feeding-baby/#.Tr2Eh1ZSmGg" target="_hplink">removed from a Delta flight</a> for breastfeeding. Watch a news clip about this story <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0r6gbJpc18" target="_hplink">here</a>.
At The Mall
Ohio mom Rhonda claimed that she was <a href="http://consumerist.com/2011/02/woman-says-mall-made-her-leave-for-breastfeeding-in-public.html" target="_hplink">kicked out of her local mall</a> for breastfeeding, back in February. Mall security even called for back-up.
At The Pool
We've heard about <a href="http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2011/07/21/mom-asked-to-leave-ymca-pool-while-breastfeeding-it-made-others-uncomfortable-and-breastmilk-is-considered-a-contaminating-bodily-fluid/" target="_hplink">these incidents</a> from coast to coast. In 2001, a mother nursing her 9-month-old was told to <a href="http://www.komonews.com/news/archive/4015441.html?tab=video" target="_hplink">move away from the edge of the pool</a> so as to avoid contaminating the water with her breast milk.
In Her Religious Community
One mom <a href="http://www.mothering.com/community/t/567001/basically-forced-out-of-church-for-breastfeeding" target="_hplink">posted a frustrated essay</a> in November 2006, detailing her pastor telling her that photos of her breastfeeding were equivalent to pornography. She and her husband decided to leave the church after this incident.
Clarissa Bradford was <a href="http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/region_phoenix_metro/north_phoenix/nursing-mother-kicked-out-of-mcdonald's" target="_hplink">kicked out of a McDonald's</a> by an assistant manager for breastfeeding her 6-month-old child in August 2010.