Breastfeeding mothers stage a nurse-in across the U.S.

by Lisa Anderson | | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Saturday, 31 December 2011 10:34 GMT

Protesters plan to lobby for a federal law guaranteeing right to public breastfeeding

NEW YORK (TrustLaw) - Hundreds of mothers in some 250 Target department stores across the U.S. Wednesday staged a collective nurse-in to assert their rights to breastfeed their babies in public.

The action came after a Target employee repeatedly asked a Houston woman to use a dressing-room to breastfeed instead of doing so in a store aisle, according to a report in the Alaska Dispatch.

Although forty-five U.S. states protect the right of mothers to breastfeed in public, the practice still creates social discomfort that has negatively affected breastfeeding rates, according to research.

Only 14 percent of American mothers exclusively breastfeed by the time their infants are six months old, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Breastfeeding Report Card 2011.

One of the reasons is that nutrition from breast milk, which is lower in fat content, requires more frequent feedings. As a result, women who are uncomfortable breastfeeding in public are less likely to continue the practice for longer periods of time.

U.S. attitudes toward breastfeeding vary by region. In western, midwestern and New England states, 70 to 80 percent of babies have been breastfed at some time in their infancy while the rate is lower in southern states.

The nurse-in protesters said they hope to lobby Congress for a federal law to guarantee public breastfeeding as a right.

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