Breastfeeding for Change

Breastfeeding For Change
Ellen Padnos
Ellen Padnos

I admit, I’ve done it in Target. I’ve done it in Whole Foods. In fact, I probably did it last week in both of those places. I am a public nurser.

As some of you may have read, there has been another public nursing incident, this one at a Target outside of Houston, Texas. Michelle Hickman, was nursing her baby in the women’s section when eight Target employees surrounded her and she was asked to finish breastfeeding in the restroom.

These public nursing humiliations tend to stir emotions in moms everywhere.  As a show of support for Hickman and a stand for women’s and baby’s rights, women are organizing “nurse-ins” at Targets in communities around the country.

Normally I’m sheepish about jumping on the bandwagon to defend public breastfeeding. I get caught up in the one incident I saw where a woman “presented” her breast to her two year-old and then tickled his nose and lips with her nipple. That is just uncomfortable to see. I say quietly, “it must be ‘those women’ who get hassled about public breastfeeding, not discreet women like me.”

But I really started to think about this.  What if it was me discreetly nursing Annie in the women’s section of Target?  What if I was asked to leave or feed my daughter in the bathroom? RAGE would engulf my body. I’ve only had rage once before and it had to do with a criticism of my child so I know what it feels like. It’s VERY bad. I would be mortified, furious and swear off Target forever. I would think it was a huge injustice that I could not quiet my baby with my breast. Babies get hungry at inconvenient times or sometimes need a little soothing.

If this had happened to me, there’s only one thing that would make me feel better. Exactly what’s happening now: women in California, and Michigan, and New Jersey are going to Target and breastfeeding their babies. All of my rage would disappear knowing that a fellowship of women across the country is looking out for each other.

My rage would turn into love, gratitude and sense of community.

I’m very comfortable blending in and not raising too many eyebrows. My husband has a great line. He says “the magic happens when you’re outside of your comfort zone.” I’m inspired by Michelle Hickman and the hundreds or thousands of women around the country who are going to Target and taking a stand by nursing their babies. ‘Tis the time for resolutions, and I’m getting out of the shadows and going to join these women who create change.

Anyone want to meet me at Target?

Click here to see more articles on by Ellen Padnos.

Ellen Padnos lives in Manhattan Beach, CA with her husband, Ben, her children Anthony (4), and Annie (1), and her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Lola. You can also follow her on Twitter (@ellenpadnos).

1 Comment

  1. I’m here from the “Target Nurse-In” group. I am so glad to read this article! Thank you for helping to bring attention to this issue! You are appreciated!

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