When Hadley Barrows was breastfeeding her son in the atrium of Minneapolis Central Library, she thought she was being discreet. A security officer disagreed and told her to "take it outside or go in the bathroom!" Yes, the bathroom. Wonder if he eats his lunch in there? The officer failed to realize that Minnesota law is crystal clear about the right of women to breastfeed anywhere in the entire state.
When the security officer said, "you're not even covered up, you're just showing everyone: indecent exposure," Barrows immediately went to a librarian. The librarian also told her to move somewhere more private! The comments on this story on the CBS Minnesota website show just how outrageously some people react to public breastfeeding. Many talk of "being discreet," in other words, covering the baby with a blanket, which is not required by law. Others don't give a hoot what the reason, they believe a baby should be nursed at home or "in private," period. Most bikinis show more breast than the average nursing mom does!
Too bad for them. Minnesota has some of the most specific laws about breastfeeding in the country. A mother nursing her child is exempt from public indecency laws and legally allowed to nurse her baby anywhere she is legally allowed to be. Barrows was pretty surprised about the incident at the library, "You think of the library as a place of knowledge," she said. "And even in the library...they don't know that it's OK to nurse your kid in public."
It is absurd that in 2012, even with laws protecting mothers and babies, there are people commenting on news articles comparing breastfeeding in public to using the toilet in public! The benefits of breastfeeding have been proven and the state of Minnesota and most others promote it and protect it, not just for the benefit to both mother and child, but for the money the state saves in healthcare and, in particular, saving on the unbelievably high cost of providing artificial milk to mothers in their Women, Infants and Children (WIC) programs.
In the case of Hadley Barrows, the security officer contacted a county police officer (seriously, he was that mad?) who had to explain the law to him. Unfortunately, it wasn't in time to stop Barrows from leaving the library very upset. Hennepin County Security manager Kirk Simmons said, "We basically sent the memo out to all of our staff, just reminding them of what the details of the law involve so that we don't run into that kind of a situation again."
It's too bad the public didn't get the memo. Each time a young mom, or even a teen mom, reads the hate-filled comments on the subject, it can eat away at her confidence in nursing her baby. The mother's confidence is the most important part of a successful nursing relationship. It is hard enough to learn how to breastfeed a baby. Learning to do it with a blanket over the baby's head, which most babies are not too fond of, takes some time and lots of practice. No woman should be forced to stay home, or to give the child a bottle in public (which can cause 'nipple confusion' if done too early in a baby's life) so everyone else feels comfortable.
In other words, get over it, people!
Check out a video about the story HERE.
Â© Margie Wilson-Mars 2012