This week, local shop owner John Rapp attempted to strip a mother, Nichole Eidsmoe, of her right to breastfeed her 11-month-old daughter, telling her that if she continued to breastfeed, she would have to leave, which is a violation of her rights as a mother. In response, Eidsmoe organized a nurse-in, a passive rally to raise awareness that not only is breastfeeding perfectly natural and normal, it is protected by Illinois’ Right to Breastfeed Act (found here), regardless of whether it is on public or private property (this also protects a woman from being accused of indecent exposure, as the Act provides that any nipple show during or incidental to breastfeeding is allowed).
But as of this morning, Rapp still had not changed his tune. According to a mother who attended the rally, Rapp recruited a man to sit in front of his store with a sign stating, “Protect John’s property rights.” To add insult to injury, Ted McCarron, a supporter of Rapp and his shop, No Strings Attached, equated breastfeeding to flashing, and directed the women at the rally to a nearby adult shop!
I find this to be completely infuriating, and while I was not able to attend the nurse-in due to a conflict with my husband’s job schedule, I spent my time at 11:00 this morning praying for the families at the nurse-in (some 50 plus mothers and their children attended, and even a few fathers!).
Although the nurse-in rose awareness (another nearby shop owner came to the rally and passed out balloons to the children, saying that he supported the mothers’ rights), this event has proved that breastfeeding is still misunderstood and misjudged. John Rapp’s actions were offensive, McCarron’s comments disgusting, and I feel the same way about anyone else who thinks that a mother should feed her child in a bathroom stall or leave her child unnourished simply because she is in public.
Please help raise awareness about the natural beauty of breastfeeding, as it is clear that we still have a long haul ahead of us in order for breastfeeding to be accepted as normal. If you or someone you know is uneducated on the topic, I will encourage you again to read Illinois’ Right to Breastfeed Act, and truly consider what a mother does for her child when she nurses her baby.
And might I add, for anyone else who thinks that breastfeeding is simply an excuse to flash, while breastfeeding does help a mother and child bond, it is also hard work for the mother. We deal with pain–chapping, bleeding, engorgement, pinching, biting, and sometimes infection–in order to nourish our child in the best way possible. We do it for our children, not to satisfy some sick, underlying desire to expose ourselves to people. And to those who may comment that it’s ok to breastfeed as long as I have covered with a blanket or other such cloth, my daughter is nearly ten months old, and will not leave any thing on or near her face while nursing, even though I have attempted to use a cover her entire life. It is a bother to her, and here’s why: she sweats (because of the enormous amount of body heat trapped under the cover), she is breathing recycled air (which we all know gets a little difficult–when’s the last time you tried to sit with your face under a blanket for 20 minutes?), and she is curious about what is going on around her (which is how children learn).
There. I’ll step down off my soapbox–for now. (: Please take the time to educate those around you in order to help protect our children’s and our rights.
UPDATE: See video footage of the nurse-in here, including proof that McCarron was crass and otherwise vulgarly offensive in his comments.