As a passionate breastfeeding mom and photographer I learned about the harassment of a local mother from various support groups in my community. I also had participated in the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign as a subject which was photographed by Second Ave Photography. I of course chose to support this mom and asked to come to both nurse my little one and document the event with Second Ave Photography. This situation is something that all nursing mothers dread, whether you are a first time mom or mother of 2 or more. Being approached in a negative manner while nursing in public for some mothers can be the reason they discontinue their breastfeeding journey. As nursing does not come easy, both mother and baby learn together, so any and every bump in the road adds up.
This situation in particular escalated quickly from a member complaint, to the VP and controller of the gym confronting this mother. Their interaction led to lawyers being called and the mother writing a letter to the owners for a simple apology. After rude and distorted emails this mother reached out for support. Once her story spread, a Nurse-In was scheduled. The gym proceeded to slander this mother via posters and Facebook posts, to include an email sent by the owner to call off the Nurse-In. He further likened breastfeeding to public urination and sex as things a child should not be witness to and comparing our organized event to a “witch hunt” and “non-religious anti-Semitism.”
This mother has been amazing in how she has shared information with the public regarding this unfortunate incident. From being specific in how we can help and support her to providing great reading and resources to those unfamiliar with the benefits of breastfeeding or simple opposition of nursing a child (links below). She also provided information regarding a petition to strengthen Virginia’s breastfeeding laws.
So what is a Nurse-In? The event organizer clearly stated, “We are not doing this to raise awareness for the right to be topless.” It is not about exposing ourselves. A Nurse-In is to raise awareness and demonstrate what breastfeeding looks like. In most cases, you wouldn’t know what was going on. Breastfeeding in a normal and natural act that we has humans should take comfort in seeing. This was/is about a mother feeding her child where ever and however she chooses without interruption, limitations or harassment.
I hope our demonstration this morning showed the members and ownership at Gold’s Gym the perspective of mothers on this issue. I hope change happens here for the gym and for mothers. We were informed today by an employee that the gym owners intend to build a nursing lounge in the daycare which would be a positive step, if they follow through.
The mother harassed in this story has provided the email strain for transparency of how this event came to fruition:
Fox News Coverage of the Event:
General breastfeeding information:
Nursing in Public (NIP):
NIP without a cover:
NIP because it’s note “modest”:
Please note I am not, in any way, bashing bottle feeding or exclusively pumping mothers. I support all moms. We all have opinions, beliefs and preferences. We all make the best decisions for our families. Age, race, location, bottle or breast we are all nourishing our children, struggles and triumphs included.
A few of my own NIP pictures from this past year.
Be Inspired. Love Authentically. Live Boldly.