Breastfeeding in public?

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse  December 18, 2009 01:18 PM

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Mother of three Mary Martinez was ousted from a Target store in Michigan earlier this month, after she began breastfeeding her hungry 4-week-old daughter in the electronics section.

Though there were few other shoppers in the area, Target security approached Martinez and her husband, Jose, and told them to leave.  "He said, 'It's against the law. You have to go,'" Jose Martinez told Fox News.

The police were called, and even after an officer admitted that breastfeeding in public was not, in fact, against the law, the family was escorted out of the store.

I'm not sure whether this smacks of ignorance or is indicative of a cultural issue. So I'm throwing it out to you: Do you think this happened because of our society considers breasts to be sexual objects? Or were the security guards just ignorant about the rights of a woman to breastfeed in public?

 

In an interview with Amy Gates at Crunchy Domestic Goddess, Mary Martinez insisted that she had been discreet and wasn't exposing herself in the store. "She’s my 3rd child and I breastfed the other 2 until they were 2, I know how to be discreet," she said. "If you can watch the news clip [which is here], I was nursing then and I imagine that’s as much skin as I showed in the store…none."

Martinez and her husband were certain that they weren't breaking any laws because Jose Martinez happens to be a Detroit police officer. Still, he says, he asked the local police who came to the scene, just to be sure. "I asked one of them if it was indeed illegal maybe in Harper Woods to breast-feed. He said, 'No.' And that was it. We got our stuff together and we left," he told Fox News.

 "Forcing me out of the store. Two security guards, the manager or team leader, two officers, they just made a spectacle and a scene. I feel like I can't go to that specific Target anymore," Mary Martinez told the news station.

The store insists that the incident became a safety issue. "This specific situation escalated to a point where we were concerned for the safety of our guests, so law enforcement was called," the store management said in a statement. "We regret the incident in our store and will continue to provide a shopping environment that respects the needs of all guests, including nursing mothers."

I think that Kate Harding at Salon put it best when she asked: "Are you kidding me? How on earth does feeding a baby "escalate" to a safety issue for other customers?"

For the record, breastfeeding in public is legal throughout the US. Forty-three states have laws on the books specifically protecting the practice, and 28 states have laws that specifically except breastfeeding from public indecency laws (you can find details at the National Conference of State Legislatures website).

The fact that we need laws about it at all, though, speaks to a larger problem. In other countries, breastfeeding is expected, even encouraged. Here, though? It's OK to wear a barely-there bikini on a crowded beach, but women are told to hide in a public restroom to feed their child?

Parents, please weigh in: How do you feel about breastfeeding in public? Moms, in particular: Did you or didn't you, and why?

Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at lalphonse@globe.com.

 

 

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71 comments so far...
  1. I absolutely support any woman's right to breastfeed in public. It should not even be an issue. I did it with both my sons (and I definitely felt awkward in some situations but stuck to my guns). However, I'm not sure that in the electronics section of Target is exactly the right place to take advantage of that right -- there are certainly other more discreet (and comfortable) parts of the store. Having said that, the security guards were TOTALLY in the wrong. It would be nice if stores --especially ones like Target that cater to families -- provided "family" type areas (not the bathroom) where activities such as bfeeding could take place.

    Posted by sue December 18, 09 04:17 PM
  1. It should never be done in public. Just women being women. Think they have the right to do anything because they have female parts... NO one should ever have to see that as they buy an ipod. Is there a more self center creature on earth???? Try holding a door for someone or letting someone into traffic.

    Posted by Sick of it December 18, 09 09:11 PM
  1. So very sad...if she let her hungry baby scream instead there'd be someone complaining about that as well. It's really a no-win for that mom, who probably seriously needed to get out and get some shopping done. And "safety issue?" - please - some people are dumber than a bag of hammers.

    Posted by lolasmomma December 18, 09 09:43 PM
  1. After I had my 2nd child, I found myself in Target in the toy department with a wailing infant and my 2 yr old in toe. After being extremely embarrassed to breastfeed my older daughter in public (even on long flights) as an infant, I made a quick decision to simply feed my 2nd child then and there to calm her down. Some people could tell and others could not - I am quite sure. I realized at that moment that ultimately, it was about caring for another human being and not about what other people felt. Never would I have thought it to be illegal or that the police or manager would be involved. While I never had to do this again in public (my kids are now 5 and 3), it allowed me the ability to finigh shopping and keep the family happy.

    Posted by jen in worcester December 18, 09 09:43 PM
  1. If the bfeeding is so discreet that I don't know about it--then I personally don't care -- feed away!
    However, there are bfeeding women who are essentially exhibitionists and they rightfully should be shown the door. I once saw a young woman walking the aisles of a supermarket with a baby attached to her completely exposed breast. Another time a mother was sitting in a waiting room of a post-secondary school with her baby attached about a foot and a half away--her breasts were that enormous-- and the one in use was completely exposed. She made a roomful of people very uncomfortable. Oh I know, they were all in the wrong while she alone was in the right.

    The fact is that men (young and old) get particularly uncomfortable seeing women breast feed because it is deeply embedded in our society that breasts and adult sex play go together. That's not going away any time soon. Therefore instead of making at least half the population uncomfortable I think women who insist on blatantly breastfeeding in public should move to a society where it's perfectly acceptable, and then rejoin us when the child is weaned.
    I'll get letters :-)

    Posted by jaye December 18, 09 09:52 PM
  1. Why cause drama? I used to pump, put the goods in a baby's bottle, and pack the bottle with the rest of baby stuff.
    Fed baby where-ever and when-ever. So simple. sheesh!

    Posted by Electra December 18, 09 10:15 PM
  1. It amazes me that people could be so sexually repressed as to find breasts being used for their natural intention offensive, yet walk past the latest issue of "Maxim" without batting an eye.

    The more that people treat public breastfeeding as what it is--a mother feeding her child in the best way possible--the more it will become a nonissue. I hate to see responses like "Oh, I did it, BUT..." No buts. Breastfeeding is appropriate anywhere you'd feel comfortable seeing a baby with a bottle, or someone chewing gum. The method of delivery doesn't negate the practice of feeding a helpless child.

    I did breastfeed my son, in public when necessary. I always felt fearful and unsure when I had to do so, however, which makes me sad when I remember it. I'll be ballsier the next time around--my child's need to eat trumps any adult's "need" to pretend that breasts don't exist, or are solely the sexual playthings of men.

    Posted by redpanda December 18, 09 10:40 PM
  1. I fully support the rights of nursing mothers to feed their babies in public. But this situation creates a scene in my mind of a mother walking around shopping and nursing the baby at the same time.

    Even though I nursed both of my babies, and on occasion in public places when necessary, I can see myself (and DEFINITELY my husband) doing a double take at someone breastfeeding alongside me as I browse the Wii games through the glass case in the electronics section at Target. It's unlikely that either of us would complain about it to store management or security, but we'd definitely shake our heads and laugh over dinner later at how some people just have no sense.

    My family runs a mid sized business with a "business casual" dress code that specifically outlines not wearing jeans, stretch or sweat pants, or any pants with holes in them. Last month a woman came to work wearing pajama pants. When the HR manager called her out on her faux pas and sent her home to change because there was a client due in for a tour shortly, she said in a haughty voice: "Well, the dress code doesn't specifically say I can't wear pajama bottoms." And I ask you....should it have NEEDED to say that pajamas were off limits in the office?

    Methinks a table in the cafe at the front of the store would have met her needs (you can park your cart with your stuff in it right next to your table so you don't lose it all) and also been ever so slightly more respectful of the other people around her. String bikinis may be appropriate on the beach, but notsomuch in Target.

    Posted by RH December 18, 09 10:53 PM
  1. I had every intention of bfing my daughter, and would have done it in Target without a second thought. That I wasn't able to (bf my daughter), I never ran into this situation. I did get the comments for giving my daughter of what people assumed was formula (and was expressed milk for the first 5 months until she was found to have allergies to things in my milk.)

    I think that a woman who bf's should carry the state laws on her at all times, and if someone gives her cr@p, she pulls them out and makes it clear that she will lawyer up if they violate the law.

    You don't just need breasts to breastfeed, you need b@lls.

    Posted by C December 19, 09 12:22 AM
  1. Get a grip men, she was feeding her new born baby...NOT giving a peep show! Streaking and mooning are considered funny and entertaining at some sporting events. Breastfeeding on the other hand, is a public safety concern!!! Give me a break; sexism rears its ugly head yet again.
    Sue their butts off then maybe they'll teach their employees to treat nursing mothers with the RESPECT they so richly deserve. I think all of us should voice our disgust to our local Target stores to get the message to the corporate office that such behavior is reprehensible!

    Posted by Donna of Medford, MA December 19, 09 12:33 AM
  1. Of course women should be able to breast feed in public, just as women are able to bottle feed in public! I nursed all three of my children several years ago and spent more time than I care to remember in public bathrooms etc...nursing while out and about in order to avoid offending anyone and people were often rude even when I nursed discreetly in public. The fact that laws are now passed supporting the rights of women to feed their babies in public settings is a wonderful thing, those laws clearly have been a long time coming! It is time to push back and educate people,although breast have become sexualized who have forgotten that the breasts are designed and meant for feeding babies.

    Posted by Amanda December 19, 09 06:15 AM
  1. I agree with sue, Target was way off well, target here. While the electronics section of the store is probably not the best spot, there was no "safety" issue, the security guards and Target should reimburse the police department for the cost of this call. I'm waiting for the news of a lawsuit here!

    That said, many stores do things like this that are against the law or violate rights. A friend of mine was forced to remove her well trained service dog from a Best Buy by an employee who wouldn't even call a manager for her.

    Posted by mhc90 December 19, 09 08:23 AM
  1. Could racism also be a factor here?

    Posted by KH December 19, 09 08:31 AM
  1. I breast fed all three of my children for over a year. I was never comfortable nursing in public, but I did not let that limit my movements. More often than not I was able to find a location within a store, restaurant, etc that was off the beaten path. If that meant going to my car, than that is what I did. No big deal really. Not everything about being a mother is convenient! I do believe that women should be able to nurse their children pretty much anywhere in public; however discretion is key for the comfort the woman, her baby and the general public. We have all seen those women (and you know who you are) who nurse completely exposed almost as a challenge to anyone who happens by. Very strange…. Bottom line, of course women should feed their babies when they need to, but feel out the situation, be as discreet as possible and respectful to the people around you. Not everyone is comfortable seeing a breast feeding mother for whatever reason.

    Posted by geelee December 19, 09 08:37 AM
  1. "The fact that we need laws about it at all, though, speaks to a larger problem. In other countries, breastfeeding is expected, even encouraged. Here, though? It's OK to wear a barely-there bikini on a crowded beach, but women are told to hide in a public restroom to feed their child?"

    Every time I hear of this happening, those are the exact thoughts that go through my head. Absolutely ridiculous and ignorant of the security guards and police officers. If someone walked in the store in a bikini, would they also be kicked out??

    That being said, I have heard of this happening so frequently that I always seek out a private area to breastfeed, just to avoid any dirty looks or controversy. And I don't find it a relaxing experience, I'm too stressed out about "finishing up" without any issues. Sad, that this is what our country deems unacceptable behavior.

    Posted by gallery170 December 19, 09 09:11 AM
  1. I try not to do it myself, only because it is easier for me at home, but women who can do it, and do it discreetly and it allows them to feed the baby and continue their endless list of errands, who cares? As a nation we are so twisted and are prudent about the wrong things. I think there is more boob shown in prime time TV or on the Real Housewives on Bravo than she did.

    Posted by SuzanneM72 December 19, 09 11:03 AM
  1. ...especially since Target is more than happy to take your money for cribs, diapers, car seats, strollers and baby clothes.

    Posted by Red_mama December 19, 09 12:21 PM
  1. I am outraged b/c so many new mothers spend thousands of dollars at Target!!! Time for moms to band together & protest this

    Posted by sari December 19, 09 12:36 PM
  1. I'd sit on a nearby bench or any spot I could and discreetly breastfeed my child. I had an older one to keep my eyes on as well. When a newborn it's easy to use a light blanket to keep covered and when the child is a few months old they can move the blanket around. It happens.My child is now 21 years old! I never had a problem, breast fed in the car if I could. The fact that you'd need a magnifiying glass to see anything is probably why there were never any issues!!! but hey, if you're classy and discreet as much as possible, it's a beautiful thing. I applaud all moms who do the very best for their children and breastfeeding is the best for baby and for mom! It's a natural part of life...It should not be anyone's business but baby's and mom's. Why do people inlcude themselves in other's business and or think they should be the ruler of others...live and let love... let there be peace, love and harmony..... I'm tired of all the uneducated, uptight jerks, personally.

    Posted by a terrific mom! December 19, 09 01:21 PM
  1. I don't know if the MFA-Boston still has it, but when mine was an infant, there was precisely the kind of place Sue is talking about. A small, comfy lounge near the American decorative arts galleries. As did Lord & Taylor.

    There should also be lounges where men can bottle-feed their infants in comfort.

    That said, it's preposterous to link breastfeeding with so-called safety issues. The mother wasn't flashing; she was feeding her child.

    The Target in questions employs ignoramuses. Typically I prefer Target to WalMart - but I hope that Target gets a strong dose of local negative publicity, and that the employees - at their own expense - have to attend sensitivity classes.

    Feeding an infant is a necessity, not a choice.

    Posted by reindeergirl December 19, 09 01:48 PM
  1. I breastfed my daughter but I think it's odd to do it in the middle of the electronics aisle. Find a chair someplace! I think some mothers get righteous on this topic--sure, it's your 'right' but be discreet about it.

    Posted by anna74 December 19, 09 02:03 PM
  1. I agree with Sue. Just because something is legal doesn't make it right. Seriously, what do you think the demographic of the typical electronics department customer is? Im guessing teenage males. Yeah, thats the last place you want to be breastfeeding your kid.

    Posted by dave December 19, 09 05:22 PM
  1. The ACLU should be all over Target. I hope that every breastfeeding motherr in the area makes a trip to that Target.

    Posted by Josh December 19, 09 05:34 PM
  1. I was never comfortable nursing in public and would have gone to a dressing room to breastfeed. However, that's a personal choice. The law provides women with the right to breastfeed in public. Target was WAY out of line with this. Their claim that this was a "safety issue" is just bizarre!

    Posted by Mary December 19, 09 05:38 PM
  1. I've breastfed in plenty of places including Targets (more than one) in NY. I sat on a stool in the furniture section/ stood in between the video section. Where ever the least amount of people seemed to be. No one should feel the need to come up to you and ask you to leave. If I were walking around the store eating a sandwhich no one would ask me to leave. The fact that it isn't against the law makes this a cultural issue. Someone else is uncomfortable that you are using your breast to feed your child so you have to leave. No one is kicking people out of Target for showing too much cleavage, or for visibly hardened nipples on a cold day. Shoot, target sells nursing bra's and other supplies. Maybe it's time to consider a parenting room. Work it out Target!

    Posted by .:robyn:. December 19, 09 06:22 PM
  1. SUE! It is legal!

    Posted by Rachel December 19, 09 07:06 PM
  1. Breastfed both mine wherever and whenever reason required it. This was over two decades ago, in NYC and then in Cambridge, MA. Never got a speck of trouble for it, whether it was the subway or Central Park or the local mall. Sad to see that the cultural climate seems to be regressing on this topic.

    Posted by harry December 19, 09 07:18 PM
  1. This really burns my blood. I breastfed all 3 of my children and wouldn't consider any other way to feed them. I breastfed in public without issue (thankfully) and would never even consider feeding my babies in a bathroom, much less a public one! Would you eat your lunch in a public restroom?

    I think Target was out of line to call police and make a huge spectacle out of this. But just like I wouldn't eat a steak dinner in the electronics section at Target I probably wouldn't breastfeed there either. Would Target have raised a stink if she were sitting in the cafe area nursing? Is Target as a company declaring breastfeeding a 'safety issue' (hope not, or I'm not shopping there anymore) or was it the ignorance of the store manager? Judging from the number of screaming children consistently in my local Target, perhaps they'd prefer that the hungry baby cry?

    Posted by christine December 19, 09 07:38 PM
  1. I am currently nursing my second child and have no issue with feeding him in public. I breastfed my daughter until she was almost 2 and it is the best thing I could have done for my child. While I agree that there may be more comfortable places to sit in Target, I am personally comfortable to feed my child in a sling while doing almost anything, walking around anywhere. If you can walk through the electronics department eating a snack or feeding your baby a bottle then there is no reason I can't BF my baby. I also do not appreciate being asked to "cover up". I can nurse so discreetly that most people don't even know. When was the last time that you enjoyed eating with a blanket over YOUR head. As for the security guards, it would have been one thing for them to ask the woman to be more discreet or to go sit in another part fo the store, but for them to make up a LIE that is was illegal - well that is just pure ignorance, especially when the law is jsut the opposite and protects a woman's right to do just such a thing. I'd file a formal complaint with the Target Corp. BF'ing woman have caused a lot of fuss over much smaller incidents so they'd better watch out. Don't ever mess with a mom and her baby!


    Posted by Ashley December 19, 09 08:17 PM
  1. I breast fed in public with both of my kids. People should focus on the "feed" but not the "breast" part of breast feeding. Maybe we should call it biological feeding or natural feeding so that people won't be get nervous with the "breast" part.

    The Target store staff called it a "safety" issue. What's so unsafe about it?

    Thanks for commenting, Didit. I love the idea of calling it "natural feeding!" -- LMA

    Posted by Didit December 19, 09 08:31 PM
  1. I do think that breastfeeding in public is fine however, within reason. I myself have seen some pretty crazy public breastfeeding scenes. For instance, at church, one row ahead of my family, a woman decided it was a perfectly appropriate place to breastfeed her baby. I disagree. Was this woman at Target breastfeeding as she was walking up and down the aisles shopping? The story is missing some details for me to make a judgement.

    Posted by kelly Albano December 19, 09 08:39 PM
  1. I used to not understand how women could bear themselves in public to feed a baby, I used to think that they should just buy the formula and have it on hand for being in public. And then I had a baby myself and I have a completely different outtake. Whether she wanted to breastfeed in public or in the privacy of her own residence is up to one person and one person alone, the mother.
    The fact that Target allowed this to escalate to a scene where law enforcement was called and they were escorted out makes me so upset. They really played this one wrong and I feel that they really owe her more than an apology.
    I think that some people feel strongly about it because perhaps they have not experienced motherhood or they just never felt strongly about breastfeeding, however, it is up to one entity alone: the mother and her baby.

    Posted by Erica December 19, 09 09:13 PM
  1. Absolutely ridiculous. I nursed my daughter in "public" and most people had no idea what I was doing. and that was with my first. People can feed their babies partially hydrogenated oil and sugar from a can, but they can't give their child the real milk nature provided them in a public place? That is what is indecent.

    Posted by veggirl December 19, 09 10:05 PM
  1. Couldn't she go out in the car to do it? This is so Third World.

    Posted by Liz Pakula December 19, 09 10:07 PM
  1. As a new mother myself, I understand that you need to feed a hungry child but the electronics dept at a Target is not the place to do it. I know that it is a natural thing, but discretion in a public place is called for. There is no reason that this woman could not have found a quiet corner of the store or excused herself to go to the car or the ladies room to feed her child. There should be limits on public breastfeeding.

    Posted by Caitlin December 19, 09 10:27 PM
  1. I breastfed my daughter for two years. Although I seldom fed her in a public place (first child and all...), I did have to feed her in a quiet corner of O'Hare airport while my husband served as a discreet screen for us. No one even noticed, never mind bothered us! The security guards at Target were totally off base with their demands and behavior toward the woman. [Can you say HOSTILITY?].

    Posted by Judy December 19, 09 10:34 PM
  1. Ewww. Should not be in public, but women are selfish...

    I don't know if you've ever been post-partum, in public, with a crying infant, and sleep deprived (goes hand-in-hand with having an infant) all at the same time, Shocker, but even under those circumstances, feeding one's child is in no way a selfish act. -- LMA

    Posted by Shocker December 20, 09 12:02 AM
  1. This is a real difficult one for me. I have young children (although we bottle-fed), so I completely understand what its like when an infant needs to eat. I also am 100% behind breastfeeding, and would never want to have society do anything to discourage it. That said, when I see it happen, whether its on a plane (I travel to Canada very frequently, and they are more open about breastfeeding up there, so I think I see it more than most people), in a store, or even in a private home, it just makes me very uncomfortable and I do whatever I can to get away from such situations -- as I think any reasonable person who feels as I do should.

    I would agree with Sue, and take it a step further: Mothers should use a degree of decorum where they choose to breastfeed their boys, and the electronics section isn't the appropriate place. Its an area where there are bound to be young boys who lack the maturity to behave and act appropriately around that act, and parents who may not want their kids to see it. (it should be noted that these young boys may not act appropriately around a woman in the aforementioned skimpy bikini, either).

    Therefore to the mothers I would ask this: I understand feeding your child comes first, and they have to be fed, but where possible, please do it in a discrete location. Whether you agree with the feeling or not, breastfeeding does make a lot of people (and not just men) uncomfortable, and therefore it should be avoided in public where possible.

    Posted by jimdwyer1 December 20, 09 12:43 AM
  1. The folks at that Target store were DEAD WRONG and they should be ASHAMED of themselves. Target should be embarrassed that one of their stores did something this horrific to a patron. Breastfeeding is a completely natural act, and there's no reason why a baby should be denied food just because of other people's ignorance. Furthermore, as sue said, women should also not be forced to breastfeed (or pump) in a bathroom; would you want to eat YOUR meal in a bathroom? I don't care how sparkling clean the employees keep it; eating in a bathroom is unsanitary for adults - so there's no way that an infant (who is in the process of developing an immune system) should have to eat in one.

    While I was not physically able to get breastfeeding to work for me and my little ones (for the unaware, there are sometimes physical problems that prevent it or make it a virtual impossibility), I was able to pump milk exclusively for my children. Were I able to breastfeed, you better believe that I would've wanted to be able to feed my child if they got hungry - no matter where or when they got hungry - just as I have done with the bottles of expressed milk. It's unfathomable to me that my giving my child a bottle in public is totally okay but were I to breastfeed discreetly, I would be the potential object of ridicule and subject to ejection from a public place. That's just insane.

    We are such hypocrites in our society. We want women to breastfeed but we're totally unsupportive of it in the workplace (raise your hand if you have a clean, warm, private place to pump) and in public spaces. Even with all of the health benefits for mommy and baby, we're so afraid of *breasts* because they're only sex toys, right? Pathetic.

    Posted by soccerjude December 20, 09 06:39 AM
  1. My kids are older now, but when they were babies, we nursed everywhere around the Boston metro area, and many other places, and only very rarely had problems. Most passers-by were not aware of what I was doing, (I often breastfed infants in a baby sling) and if they were, I was more likely to get a friendly comment or a smile. Attitudes toward breastfeeding in public vary widely around the country, and I was definitely more comfortable in some places than others, but didn't let it stop me.

    Personally, I believe that babies should eat when and where they are hungry, and wherever the mother is comfortable feeding them. I agree that a clean and comfortable family area (outside the bathroom) would be a welcome addition at most malls and shopping areas, but mothers should not feel obligated to stay there when feeding their babies.

    Posted by mary December 20, 09 07:18 AM
  1. I think women should be able to breastfeed wherever it is acceptable to have an infant with them. I should mention that I have breastfed in our local Target with no problem. I did ask to use one of the changing rooms to do so, for my own benefit because my baby was very fussy at the time.

    Posted by Vivian December 20, 09 07:56 AM
  1. Oh for heaven's sakes, I started nursing my first child 24 years ago and finished with my 3rd-12 yrs ago and I can't believe this is STILL a topic for discussion! I can remember nursing my son while having a discussion across the table from my brother for 15 minutes before my brother even realized what I was doing...and that was only when I placed the baby up to burp him! I also remember nursing my 3rd while waiting in line for "Honey I shrunk the Kids" at Disney. Most people had little interest, only a few glances of understanding from other moms.

    Posted by Lynn December 20, 09 09:08 AM
  1. I support a woman's right to breastfeed in public. a Target store is private property, not a public location.

    Posted by tweed December 20, 09 09:49 AM
  1. Had she done it in a more baby-friendly part of the store, perhaps it wouldn't have been so awkward. Breastfeeding involves the transfer of bodily fluids from a woman's breast into an infant's mouth, and yet it is a beautiful act when performed with dignity and discretion. I am all for mother's rights and the rights of infants to get nourishment, but whipping out the tit and suctioning the kid on under flourescent lights only leads to the "vulgarization of the breast" and titters of embarrassment from beleagured Americans who just trying to buy some Chinese-manufactured goods.

    Posted by Heather Hines December 20, 09 01:00 PM
  1. I am sure the woman was being discreet, but if she was very discreet, how did the security guards know she was breast feeding? That being said, I do agree that breasts are looked at as sexual objects in our society. It's just the way we are. And it's not just the prudish people who make it this way, but all the men's magazines and Hollywood too.
    I breastfed my kids, but I did it in my home, or if visiting, in a bedroom provided by the hostess. Some people, even females, are very uncomfortable with breastfeeding. All my female in-laws were.
    I agree that stores should have family lounge rooms where mothers can go and feed their children.

    Posted by patches02 December 20, 09 04:36 PM
  1. Can you spell l-a-w-s-u-i-t?

    Posted by Mr_Hertz December 20, 09 05:00 PM
  1. Seeing that or someone's crack as they bend over... Both are terrible.. Not sure which is worse

    Posted by Eww December 20, 09 05:27 PM
  1. I breast fed my twins and am all for it... that being said - no I don't like to watch other people breast feed. One person's idea of 'discreet' is often not another person's idea! I also agree w/ the person above re why wouldn't a store like Target ( family focused) not have a nice relaxing area where mothers can go to feed?

    Posted by suz December 20, 09 05:40 PM
  1. it is funny how society cares about "discretion" when it involves a mother feeding her baby. but anyone can walk around with their pants hanging half way down their butts with their thong underware showing, walk around half dressed, or wear clothing that is offensive to others and that's called "self expression". as a society we need to make a decision. are we going to allow people to self express or are we going to enforce some modesty???

    Posted by tired of society December 20, 09 06:42 PM
  1. Target is sending the wrong message. The message the sent me is that they are small minded and ignorant and NOT a family store!!!!! I guess they don't want my business. I breast fed in public very discreetly in California and never had any trouble at all. I did it because when you have a very young baby, they do not understand waiting to eat, nor should they. It is their sustenance - their life. Ignorant people who only consider breasts sexual objects are why intelligent people everywhere consider a lot of Americans to be stupid,& uninformed. WTH is wrong with us?

    Posted by Mastermou December 20, 09 09:12 PM
  1. There is nothing wrong with breastfeeding in the electronics section of Target or anywhere else. Its not wrong in church, nor in a restaurant, nor in government building. Women were given breasts in order to feed their children. There is nothing inappropriate about feeding a baby. Babies need to eat--and no, formula is not an equal substitute for public feeding.

    Posted by MakeLoveNotWar December 20, 09 10:32 PM
  1. Absolute stupidity! Target should pay this woman damages and be forced to pay for ad campaigns promoting breastfeeding. There ISN'T anything more natural in the entire world! Do these same people get offended when they go to the Zoo and see a baby gorilla nursing? or, when they see a litter of new born puppies, nursing? NO, they say, oh, how cute. Wake up idiots! get with the times.

    Posted by Adam December 21, 09 03:52 AM
  1. I think it is outrageous that we continue to hear about breastfeeding families getting ostracized in public. It is a sad reflection on our culture that people think it is inappropriate to breastfeed in public. I am so saddened to hear that this family was not only bothered and publicly humiliated, but that they were forced to leave the store. Target should consider a public apology, to this family and to all breastfeeding families. Any parent knows that when an infant, especially as young as four weeks, needs to eat, they need to eat immediately. In my opinion, there is no inappropriate place to breastfeed in a Target. It is other people's problem if they are uncomfortable and they should remove themselves from the situation and leave the breastfeeding family alone.

    Posted by Caitlin Roberts December 21, 09 05:59 AM
  1. i proudly nursed both my babies for their first year. i nursed them wherever, whenever they happened to need to be fed, just as any bottle-feeding mom would have done so with bottles. i was ALWAYS discreet and did my best to respect other people's comfort levels. for example, at my in-laws' house, i did in fact retreat to a room in private.

    i think it is ridiculous that we need to have laws to protect the MAIN PURPOSE OF BREASTS IN THE FIRST PLACE!

    when out shopping, i would have to say that i usually tried to find a comfortable spot where my baby and i would not be interrupted. but againm that was for my own comfort. i can imagine that if you have a baby slong, and it is your third, you can feed the baby and just keep going. i think it makes me think a liot less of Target as a family store. they owe that familt an apology -- publicly.


    Posted by chloe1996 December 21, 09 06:30 AM
  1. Parents should think for a little bit before bringing their children into public places. There are plenty of devices that allow a mother to extract breastmilk into a bottle ahead of time. Exposing oneself in public is a crime for all, including breastfeeding mothers.

    Posted by JB December 21, 09 07:05 AM
  1. theres as much need to BF in public as there is to eat a pizza while shopping. go home, if you or you hungry kids need food, or go out to eat.

    Posted by boston herald December 21, 09 07:22 AM
  1. I breastfed my firstborn...never in public. But I do support a right to do so in a public place however, but not out in the open. I think she could have gone to more of a discreet location. I agree that making a huge spectacle of it was wrong. It wasn't like she robbed the place or something!!!

    Posted by jadee December 21, 09 07:32 AM
  1. This is terrible. Target should be ashamed of themselves. The poor woman was just doing something natural. SO, its okay for girls and women to walk around Target in skin tight shirts, with their muffin tops hanging out and their cleavage for all to see, but discreetly breast feeding a child is endangering their customers??

    I'd sue if I were them.

    Posted by JJ December 21, 09 10:18 AM
  1. Wow....unreal that this is even an issue. We're told left and right that breastfeeding is best, but we're given no place other than at home or dirty store bathrooms to do it. Interesting that a store that sells breastfeeding supplies is that inept to deal with these situations. I applaud this woman for doing what she needed to for a hungry child. I breastfed for 13.5 months while working full time. It's not easy and there are very few stores that make it easier for nursing mothers. Would I personally have chosen the electronics isle, maybe not, but that really should make no difference. Target should consider creating a family room like other stores have if they are concerned with keeping their guests comfortable, especially when they're hoping mother's will register there for their baby items!

    Posted by Lori December 21, 09 10:24 AM
  1. I breastfeed my daugther until she was 9 months old and was never shy about doing it anywhere, but certainly never felt safe enough to do so standing in an aisle. I was afraid I'd trip or something. That said -I did walk around my house nursing my baby at my husbands birthday party- my place, my rules. It's a personal decision, but using a bit of common sense or courtesy is not asking too much. While I never hesitated to nurse my daughter in the Target snack bar area, I did so with my back to the crowd. Discretion is not an infringement on personal rights, it's consideration for others.

    Posted by Stephanie Rand December 21, 09 10:37 AM
  1. there is nothing wrong with breastfeeding. in fact, i signed the petition at thepetitionsite.com/1/womens-consitutional-right-to-go-topless = RIGHTS

    Posted by roffy December 21, 09 11:11 AM
  1. #37: How is feeding a child selfish? If she had let it wail, would that have been more acceptable? Probably not... remember there was that WalMart story a few months ago, when a random stranger slapped someone else's toddler because it was crying.

    #47: You must be joking. How are breastfeeding and wearing too-low pants when bending over even remotely related? Anyway, in either case -- LOOK AWAY THEN.

    Posted by MamaCat December 21, 09 11:33 AM
  1. To JB (number 55) -- Actually, breastfeeding in public is not a crime, and it is not legally considered indecent exposure. The laws specifically allow it. Do you work at Target or something?

    To Boston Herald (number 56) -- When you figure out how to get a newborn on a strict feeding schedule, please let the rest of us know! If there was no need to eat while shopping, malls wouldn't have food courts.

    Posted by One Reader December 21, 09 11:39 AM
  1. The female breast has been turned into a mere marketing tool by our modern secular culture. Those who are offended by breastfeeding are those who don't like to be confronted by its original purpose. To be offended shows profound ignorance.

    Posted by Noah December 21, 09 11:40 AM
  1. I support the right to breastfeed in public, and think it's awful to make babies eat in the bathroom. But a fitting room might be OK! It's private, clean, and some of the ones at Target have a lot of space. There are ways to be discreet.

    What I don't understand is why the police got involved. What a waste of taxpayer money.

    Posted by Momof2 December 21, 09 11:42 AM
  1. I think bf should be done in private, not public. I bf all 3 of my kids and would never put myself in a position to be critizised or embarrassed. While I understand it is natural, so is going to the bathroom and I don't want to be a witness to someone doing that in public either. As one person said, use a pump and take the "goodies" with you in a bottle. No one is offended.

    Posted by Mary Jane December 21, 09 12:47 PM
  1. What if we framed the discussion as an infant's right to eat in public? Nobody tells adults that if they want to eat processed foods or McDonald's they can do it in public but vegetables and fruit have to be eaten at home or in a public bathroom.

    Of course breastfeeding moms should be discreet and 95% of them are -- and I'd rather protect their rights to take good care of the next generation than go after them to prevent the 5% from make a show of the natural act of a baby eating its natural food in the most natural way possible. If teenage boys in the electronics section saw it happen more often, it might be a good thing for all concerned.

    Public bathrooms are a disgusting place to eat and fitting rooms are not necessarily available quickly or for long periods of time. Cars can be cramped, far away, hot/cold or wasting gas idling. Booths and benches may already be taken by others. I have no idea why she chose to feed in the electronics section, but I doubt it was her ideal spot, either -- duty calls and a mom answers.

    The "pump and carry" option is not universally realistic. Some women can breastfeed but not pump enough, plus you are talking about double the time investment (pumping then bottle feeding) for a woman who probably has little time to begin with. That's leaving aside the fact that the mom is probably already carrying around enough supplies for the invasion of Normandy and her breasts will get heavier and more painful the longer she goes without nursing.

    Posted by 42 month breastfeeder (3 kids) December 21, 09 01:53 PM
  1. actually, breastfeeding in public is more conservative then doing it privately. 72000 years ago we were all nudists, so the people who pushed the moral limit then were the ones that started wearing clothes

    Posted by roffy December 22, 09 08:18 PM
  1. The Target incident happened in Detroit, one of the most violent cities in America. The situation escalated when the woman and her cop husband threatened the security guard. That's why the police were called. If I was a security guard and I saw a woman lifting up her shirt in the electronics section of a store, I would immediately think she was shoplifting, not breastfeeding.

    I support breastfeeding, and public breastfeeding is necessary, but exhibitionism isn't. Like it or not, breasts are sexual in American culture.

    A friend of mine worked at Kids R Us. Store policy was to allow breastfeeding anywhere in the store. Now and then, a woman would try to breastfeed her kid while walking around the store topless.

    I was once forced to watch a woman breastfeed her kid. Really. I was at a B&B in Washington DC, at the communal breakfast table. A woman sat down across from me, lifted up her shirt, whipped a breast out, and breast fed her baby right in front of me. I thought it was a weird thing to do in front of a total stranger.

    Posted by Liz December 24, 09 01:59 AM
  1. I breastfed my 4 children, including in public. The one time someone said something to me, I looked blankly at them at first. Then as they insisted that using my breast to feed my child should be done out of sight, I nodded understandingly and said, "Oh - I see. You're a pedophile who can't help but think that there's something sexual about an infant in contact with a woman's breast! I'm sorry to hear that you are so warped, but I hardly think that means I need to change what I am doing. Perhaps you can find some help for your problem." The person looked stunned and quickly walked away. I was sooooo happy to have the chance to use the pedophile accusation against this ignoramous. And yes, if you are one of those people who think breastfeeding should be hidden like defecating an intercourse, then my assumption is that you are a sicko who should never be allowed alone with a child.

    Posted by rebeccat December 27, 09 07:40 PM
  1. How insane is that....in government that attempts to promote breastfeeding. One of the many goals of Healthy People 2010 was to increase the number of women that nurse their babies. Of course, we fell short of those goals...not a surprise with the social hinderances. Besides, their are laws (in 43 states) that protect women, those laws have been put into place for a reason. It is unexceptable that a woman should feel ashamed or be excorted out of building for breastfeeding. Feeding your child should NOT be considered indecent exposure.

    Posted by Suzy March 6, 10 06:06 AM
 
71 comments so far...
  1. I absolutely support any woman's right to breastfeed in public. It should not even be an issue. I did it with both my sons (and I definitely felt awkward in some situations but stuck to my guns). However, I'm not sure that in the electronics section of Target is exactly the right place to take advantage of that right -- there are certainly other more discreet (and comfortable) parts of the store. Having said that, the security guards were TOTALLY in the wrong. It would be nice if stores --especially ones like Target that cater to families -- provided "family" type areas (not the bathroom) where activities such as bfeeding could take place.

    Posted by sue December 18, 09 04:17 PM
  1. It should never be done in public. Just women being women. Think they have the right to do anything because they have female parts... NO one should ever have to see that as they buy an ipod. Is there a more self center creature on earth???? Try holding a door for someone or letting someone into traffic.

    Posted by Sick of it December 18, 09 09:11 PM
  1. So very sad...if she let her hungry baby scream instead there'd be someone complaining about that as well. It's really a no-win for that mom, who probably seriously needed to get out and get some shopping done. And "safety issue?" - please - some people are dumber than a bag of hammers.

    Posted by lolasmomma December 18, 09 09:43 PM
  1. After I had my 2nd child, I found myself in Target in the toy department with a wailing infant and my 2 yr old in toe. After being extremely embarrassed to breastfeed my older daughter in public (even on long flights) as an infant, I made a quick decision to simply feed my 2nd child then and there to calm her down. Some people could tell and others could not - I am quite sure. I realized at that moment that ultimately, it was about caring for another human being and not about what other people felt. Never would I have thought it to be illegal or that the police or manager would be involved. While I never had to do this again in public (my kids are now 5 and 3), it allowed me the ability to finigh shopping and keep the family happy.

    Posted by jen in worcester December 18, 09 09:43 PM
  1. If the bfeeding is so discreet that I don't know about it--then I personally don't care -- feed away!
    However, there are bfeeding women who are essentially exhibitionists and they rightfully should be shown the door. I once saw a young woman walking the aisles of a supermarket with a baby attached to her completely exposed breast. Another time a mother was sitting in a waiting room of a post-secondary school with her baby attached about a foot and a half away--her breasts were that enormous-- and the one in use was completely exposed. She made a roomful of people very uncomfortable. Oh I know, they were all in the wrong while she alone was in the right.

    The fact is that men (young and old) get particularly uncomfortable seeing women breast feed because it is deeply embedded in our society that breasts and adult sex play go together. That's not going away any time soon. Therefore instead of making at least half the population uncomfortable I think women who insist on blatantly breastfeeding in public should move to a society where it's perfectly acceptable, and then rejoin us when the child is weaned.
    I'll get letters :-)

    Posted by jaye December 18, 09 09:52 PM
  1. Why cause drama? I used to pump, put the goods in a baby's bottle, and pack the bottle with the rest of baby stuff.
    Fed baby where-ever and when-ever. So simple. sheesh!

    Posted by Electra December 18, 09 10:15 PM
  1. It amazes me that people could be so sexually repressed as to find breasts being used for their natural intention offensive, yet walk past the latest issue of "Maxim" without batting an eye.

    The more that people treat public breastfeeding as what it is--a mother feeding her child in the best way possible--the more it will become a nonissue. I hate to see responses like "Oh, I did it, BUT..." No buts. Breastfeeding is appropriate anywhere you'd feel comfortable seeing a baby with a bottle, or someone chewing gum. The method of delivery doesn't negate the practice of feeding a helpless child.

    I did breastfeed my son, in public when necessary. I always felt fearful and unsure when I had to do so, however, which makes me sad when I remember it. I'll be ballsier the next time around--my child's need to eat trumps any adult's "need" to pretend that breasts don't exist, or are solely the sexual playthings of men.

    Posted by redpanda December 18, 09 10:40 PM
  1. I fully support the rights of nursing mothers to feed their babies in public. But this situation creates a scene in my mind of a mother walking around shopping and nursing the baby at the same time.

    Even though I nursed both of my babies, and on occasion in public places when necessary, I can see myself (and DEFINITELY my husband) doing a double take at someone breastfeeding alongside me as I browse the Wii games through the glass case in the electronics section at Target. It's unlikely that either of us would complain about it to store management or security, but we'd definitely shake our heads and laugh over dinner later at how some people just have no sense.

    My family runs a mid sized business with a "business casual" dress code that specifically outlines not wearing jeans, stretch or sweat pants, or any pants with holes in them. Last month a woman came to work wearing pajama pants. When the HR manager called her out on her faux pas and sent her home to change because there was a client due in for a tour shortly, she said in a haughty voice: "Well, the dress code doesn't specifically say I can't wear pajama bottoms." And I ask you....should it have NEEDED to say that pajamas were off limits in the office?

    Methinks a table in the cafe at the front of the store would have met her needs (you can park your cart with your stuff in it right next to your table so you don't lose it all) and also been ever so slightly more respectful of the other people around her. String bikinis may be appropriate on the beach, but notsomuch in Target.

    Posted by RH December 18, 09 10:53 PM
  1. I had every intention of bfing my daughter, and would have done it in Target without a second thought. That I wasn't able to (bf my daughter), I never ran into this situation. I did get the comments for giving my daughter of what people assumed was formula (and was expressed milk for the first 5 months until she was found to have allergies to things in my milk.)

    I think that a woman who bf's should carry the state laws on her at all times, and if someone gives her cr@p, she pulls them out and makes it clear that she will lawyer up if they violate the law.

    You don't just need breasts to breastfeed, you need b@lls.

    Posted by C December 19, 09 12:22 AM
  1. Get a grip men, she was feeding her new born baby...NOT giving a peep show! Streaking and mooning are considered funny and entertaining at some sporting events. Breastfeeding on the other hand, is a public safety concern!!! Give me a break; sexism rears its ugly head yet again.
    Sue their butts off then maybe they'll teach their employees to treat nursing mothers with the RESPECT they so richly deserve. I think all of us should voice our disgust to our local Target stores to get the message to the corporate office that such behavior is reprehensible!

    Posted by Donna of Medford, MA December 19, 09 12:33 AM
  1. Of course women should be able to breast feed in public, just as women are able to bottle feed in public! I nursed all three of my children several years ago and spent more time than I care to remember in public bathrooms etc...nursing while out and about in order to avoid offending anyone and people were often rude even when I nursed discreetly in public. The fact that laws are now passed supporting the rights of women to feed their babies in public settings is a wonderful thing, those laws clearly have been a long time coming! It is time to push back and educate people,although breast have become sexualized who have forgotten that the breasts are designed and meant for feeding babies.

    Posted by Amanda December 19, 09 06:15 AM
  1. I agree with sue, Target was way off well, target here. While the electronics section of the store is probably not the best spot, there was no "safety" issue, the security guards and Target should reimburse the police department for the cost of this call. I'm waiting for the news of a lawsuit here!

    That said, many stores do things like this that are against the law or violate rights. A friend of mine was forced to remove her well trained service dog from a Best Buy by an employee who wouldn't even call a manager for her.

    Posted by mhc90 December 19, 09 08:23 AM
  1. Could racism also be a factor here?

    Posted by KH December 19, 09 08:31 AM
  1. I breast fed all three of my children for over a year. I was never comfortable nursing in public, but I did not let that limit my movements. More often than not I was able to find a location within a store, restaurant, etc that was off the beaten path. If that meant going to my car, than that is what I did. No big deal really. Not everything about being a mother is convenient! I do believe that women should be able to nurse their children pretty much anywhere in public; however discretion is key for the comfort the woman, her baby and the general public. We have all seen those women (and you know who you are) who nurse completely exposed almost as a challenge to anyone who happens by. Very strange…. Bottom line, of course women should feed their babies when they need to, but feel out the situation, be as discreet as possible and respectful to the people around you. Not everyone is comfortable seeing a breast feeding mother for whatever reason.

    Posted by geelee December 19, 09 08:37 AM
  1. "The fact that we need laws about it at all, though, speaks to a larger problem. In other countries, breastfeeding is expected, even encouraged. Here, though? It's OK to wear a barely-there bikini on a crowded beach, but women are told to hide in a public restroom to feed their child?"

    Every time I hear of this happening, those are the exact thoughts that go through my head. Absolutely ridiculous and ignorant of the security guards and police officers. If someone walked in the store in a bikini, would they also be kicked out??

    That being said, I have heard of this happening so frequently that I always seek out a private area to breastfeed, just to avoid any dirty looks or controversy. And I don't find it a relaxing experience, I'm too stressed out about "finishing up" without any issues. Sad, that this is what our country deems unacceptable behavior.

    Posted by gallery170 December 19, 09 09:11 AM
  1. I try not to do it myself, only because it is easier for me at home, but women who can do it, and do it discreetly and it allows them to feed the baby and continue their endless list of errands, who cares? As a nation we are so twisted and are prudent about the wrong things. I think there is more boob shown in prime time TV or on the Real Housewives on Bravo than she did.

    Posted by SuzanneM72 December 19, 09 11:03 AM
  1. ...especially since Target is more than happy to take your money for cribs, diapers, car seats, strollers and baby clothes.

    Posted by Red_mama December 19, 09 12:21 PM
  1. I am outraged b/c so many new mothers spend thousands of dollars at Target!!! Time for moms to band together & protest this

    Posted by sari December 19, 09 12:36 PM
  1. I'd sit on a nearby bench or any spot I could and discreetly breastfeed my child. I had an older one to keep my eyes on as well. When a newborn it's easy to use a light blanket to keep covered and when the child is a few months old they can move the blanket around. It happens.My child is now 21 years old! I never had a problem, breast fed in the car if I could. The fact that you'd need a magnifiying glass to see anything is probably why there were never any issues!!! but hey, if you're classy and discreet as much as possible, it's a beautiful thing. I applaud all moms who do the very best for their children and breastfeeding is the best for baby and for mom! It's a natural part of life...It should not be anyone's business but baby's and mom's. Why do people inlcude themselves in other's business and or think they should be the ruler of others...live and let love... let there be peace, love and harmony..... I'm tired of all the uneducated, uptight jerks, personally.

    Posted by a terrific mom! December 19, 09 01:21 PM
  1. I don't know if the MFA-Boston still has it, but when mine was an infant, there was precisely the kind of place Sue is talking about. A small, comfy lounge near the American decorative arts galleries. As did Lord & Taylor.

    There should also be lounges where men can bottle-feed their infants in comfort.

    That said, it's preposterous to link breastfeeding with so-called safety issues. The mother wasn't flashing; she was feeding her child.

    The Target in questions employs ignoramuses. Typically I prefer Target to WalMart - but I hope that Target gets a strong dose of local negative publicity, and that the employees - at their own expense - have to attend sensitivity classes.

    Feeding an infant is a necessity, not a choice.

    Posted by reindeergirl December 19, 09 01:48 PM
  1. I breastfed my daughter but I think it's odd to do it in the middle of the electronics aisle. Find a chair someplace! I think some mothers get righteous on this topic--sure, it's your 'right' but be discreet about it.

    Posted by anna74 December 19, 09 02:03 PM
  1. I agree with Sue. Just because something is legal doesn't make it right. Seriously, what do you think the demographic of the typical electronics department customer is? Im guessing teenage males. Yeah, thats the last place you want to be breastfeeding your kid.

    Posted by dave December 19, 09 05:22 PM
  1. The ACLU should be all over Target. I hope that every breastfeeding motherr in the area makes a trip to that Target.

    Posted by Josh December 19, 09 05:34 PM
  1. I was never comfortable nursing in public and would have gone to a dressing room to breastfeed. However, that's a personal choice. The law provides women with the right to breastfeed in public. Target was WAY out of line with this. Their claim that this was a "safety issue" is just bizarre!

    Posted by Mary December 19, 09 05:38 PM
  1. I've breastfed in plenty of places including Targets (more than one) in NY. I sat on a stool in the furniture section/ stood in between the video section. Where ever the least amount of people seemed to be. No one should feel the need to come up to you and ask you to leave. If I were walking around the store eating a sandwhich no one would ask me to leave. The fact that it isn't against the law makes this a cultural issue. Someone else is uncomfortable that you are using your breast to feed your child so you have to leave. No one is kicking people out of Target for showing too much cleavage, or for visibly hardened nipples on a cold day. Shoot, target sells nursing bra's and other supplies. Maybe it's time to consider a parenting room. Work it out Target!

    Posted by .:robyn:. December 19, 09 06:22 PM
  1. SUE! It is legal!

    Posted by Rachel December 19, 09 07:06 PM
  1. Breastfed both mine wherever and whenever reason required it. This was over two decades ago, in NYC and then in Cambridge, MA. Never got a speck of trouble for it, whether it was the subway or Central Park or the local mall. Sad to see that the cultural climate seems to be regressing on this topic.

    Posted by harry December 19, 09 07:18 PM
  1. This really burns my blood. I breastfed all 3 of my children and wouldn't consider any other way to feed them. I breastfed in public without issue (thankfully) and would never even consider feeding my babies in a bathroom, much less a public one! Would you eat your lunch in a public restroom?

    I think Target was out of line to call police and make a huge spectacle out of this. But just like I wouldn't eat a steak dinner in the electronics section at Target I probably wouldn't breastfeed there either. Would Target have raised a stink if she were sitting in the cafe area nursing? Is Target as a company declaring breastfeeding a 'safety issue' (hope not, or I'm not shopping there anymore) or was it the ignorance of the store manager? Judging from the number of screaming children consistently in my local Target, perhaps they'd prefer that the hungry baby cry?

    Posted by christine December 19, 09 07:38 PM
  1. I am currently nursing my second child and have no issue with feeding him in public. I breastfed my daughter until she was almost 2 and it is the best thing I could have done for my child. While I agree that there may be more comfortable places to sit in Target, I am personally comfortable to feed my child in a sling while doing almost anything, walking around anywhere. If you can walk through the electronics department eating a snack or feeding your baby a bottle then there is no reason I can't BF my baby. I also do not appreciate being asked to "cover up". I can nurse so discreetly that most people don't even know. When was the last time that you enjoyed eating with a blanket over YOUR head. As for the security guards, it would have been one thing for them to ask the woman to be more discreet or to go sit in another part fo the store, but for them to make up a LIE that is was illegal - well that is just pure ignorance, especially when the law is jsut the opposite and protects a woman's right to do just such a thing. I'd file a formal complaint with the Target Corp. BF'ing woman have caused a lot of fuss over much smaller incidents so they'd better watch out. Don't ever mess with a mom and her baby!


    Posted by Ashley December 19, 09 08:17 PM
  1. I breast fed in public with both of my kids. People should focus on the "feed" but not the "breast" part of breast feeding. Maybe we should call it biological feeding or natural feeding so that people won't be get nervous with the "breast" part.

    The Target store staff called it a "safety" issue. What's so unsafe about it?

    Thanks for commenting, Didit. I love the idea of calling it "natural feeding!" -- LMA

    Posted by Didit December 19, 09 08:31 PM
  1. I do think that breastfeeding in public is fine however, within reason. I myself have seen some pretty crazy public breastfeeding scenes. For instance, at church, one row ahead of my family, a woman decided it was a perfectly appropriate place to breastfeed her baby. I disagree. Was this woman at Target breastfeeding as she was walking up and down the aisles shopping? The story is missing some details for me to make a judgement.

    Posted by kelly Albano December 19, 09 08:39 PM
  1. I used to not understand how women could bear themselves in public to feed a baby, I used to think that they should just buy the formula and have it on hand for being in public. And then I had a baby myself and I have a completely different outtake. Whether she wanted to breastfeed in public or in the privacy of her own residence is up to one person and one person alone, the mother.
    The fact that Target allowed this to escalate to a scene where law enforcement was called and they were escorted out makes me so upset. They really played this one wrong and I feel that they really owe her more than an apology.
    I think that some people feel strongly about it because perhaps they have not experienced motherhood or they just never felt strongly about breastfeeding, however, it is up to one entity alone: the mother and her baby.

    Posted by Erica December 19, 09 09:13 PM
  1. Absolutely ridiculous. I nursed my daughter in "public" and most people had no idea what I was doing. and that was with my first. People can feed their babies partially hydrogenated oil and sugar from a can, but they can't give their child the real milk nature provided them in a public place? That is what is indecent.

    Posted by veggirl December 19, 09 10:05 PM
  1. Couldn't she go out in the car to do it? This is so Third World.

    Posted by Liz Pakula December 19, 09 10:07 PM
  1. As a new mother myself, I understand that you need to feed a hungry child but the electronics dept at a Target is not the place to do it. I know that it is a natural thing, but discretion in a public place is called for. There is no reason that this woman could not have found a quiet corner of the store or excused herself to go to the car or the ladies room to feed her child. There should be limits on public breastfeeding.

    Posted by Caitlin December 19, 09 10:27 PM
  1. I breastfed my daughter for two years. Although I seldom fed her in a public place (first child and all...), I did have to feed her in a quiet corner of O'Hare airport while my husband served as a discreet screen for us. No one even noticed, never mind bothered us! The security guards at Target were totally off base with their demands and behavior toward the woman. [Can you say HOSTILITY?].

    Posted by Judy December 19, 09 10:34 PM
  1. Ewww. Should not be in public, but women are selfish...

    I don't know if you've ever been post-partum, in public, with a crying infant, and sleep deprived (goes hand-in-hand with having an infant) all at the same time, Shocker, but even under those circumstances, feeding one's child is in no way a selfish act. -- LMA

    Posted by Shocker December 20, 09 12:02 AM
  1. This is a real difficult one for me. I have young children (although we bottle-fed), so I completely understand what its like when an infant needs to eat. I also am 100% behind breastfeeding, and would never want to have society do anything to discourage it. That said, when I see it happen, whether its on a plane (I travel to Canada very frequently, and they are more open about breastfeeding up there, so I think I see it more than most people), in a store, or even in a private home, it just makes me very uncomfortable and I do whatever I can to get away from such situations -- as I think any reasonable person who feels as I do should.

    I would agree with Sue, and take it a step further: Mothers should use a degree of decorum where they choose to breastfeed their boys, and the electronics section isn't the appropriate place. Its an area where there are bound to be young boys who lack the maturity to behave and act appropriately around that act, and parents who may not want their kids to see it. (it should be noted that these young boys may not act appropriately around a woman in the aforementioned skimpy bikini, either).

    Therefore to the mothers I would ask this: I understand feeding your child comes first, and they have to be fed, but where possible, please do it in a discrete location. Whether you agree with the feeling or not, breastfeeding does make a lot of people (and not just men) uncomfortable, and therefore it should be avoided in public where possible.

    Posted by jimdwyer1 December 20, 09 12:43 AM
  1. The folks at that Target store were DEAD WRONG and they should be ASHAMED of themselves. Target should be embarrassed that one of their stores did something this horrific to a patron. Breastfeeding is a completely natural act, and there's no reason why a baby should be denied food just because of other people's ignorance. Furthermore, as sue said, women should also not be forced to breastfeed (or pump) in a bathroom; would you want to eat YOUR meal in a bathroom? I don't care how sparkling clean the employees keep it; eating in a bathroom is unsanitary for adults - so there's no way that an infant (who is in the process of developing an immune system) should have to eat in one.

    While I was not physically able to get breastfeeding to work for me and my little ones (for the unaware, there are sometimes physical problems that prevent it or make it a virtual impossibility), I was able to pump milk exclusively for my children. Were I able to breastfeed, you better believe that I would've wanted to be able to feed my child if they got hungry - no matter where or when they got hungry - just as I have done with the bottles of expressed milk. It's unfathomable to me that my giving my child a bottle in public is totally okay but were I to breastfeed discreetly, I would be the potential object of ridicule and subject to ejection from a public place. That's just insane.

    We are such hypocrites in our society. We want women to breastfeed but we're totally unsupportive of it in the workplace (raise your hand if you have a clean, warm, private place to pump) and in public spaces. Even with all of the health benefits for mommy and baby, we're so afraid of *breasts* because they're only sex toys, right? Pathetic.

    Posted by soccerjude December 20, 09 06:39 AM
  1. My kids are older now, but when they were babies, we nursed everywhere around the Boston metro area, and many other places, and only very rarely had problems. Most passers-by were not aware of what I was doing, (I often breastfed infants in a baby sling) and if they were, I was more likely to get a friendly comment or a smile. Attitudes toward breastfeeding in public vary widely around the country, and I was definitely more comfortable in some places than others, but didn't let it stop me.

    Personally, I believe that babies should eat when and where they are hungry, and wherever the mother is comfortable feeding them. I agree that a clean and comfortable family area (outside the bathroom) would be a welcome addition at most malls and shopping areas, but mothers should not feel obligated to stay there when feeding their babies.

    Posted by mary December 20, 09 07:18 AM
  1. I think women should be able to breastfeed wherever it is acceptable to have an infant with them. I should mention that I have breastfed in our local Target with no problem. I did ask to use one of the changing rooms to do so, for my own benefit because my baby was very fussy at the time.

    Posted by Vivian December 20, 09 07:56 AM
  1. Oh for heaven's sakes, I started nursing my first child 24 years ago and finished with my 3rd-12 yrs ago and I can't believe this is STILL a topic for discussion! I can remember nursing my son while having a discussion across the table from my brother for 15 minutes before my brother even realized what I was doing...and that was only when I placed the baby up to burp him! I also remember nursing my 3rd while waiting in line for "Honey I shrunk the Kids" at Disney. Most people had little interest, only a few glances of understanding from other moms.

    Posted by Lynn December 20, 09 09:08 AM
  1. I support a woman's right to breastfeed in public. a Target store is private property, not a public location.

    Posted by tweed December 20, 09 09:49 AM
  1. Had she done it in a more baby-friendly part of the store, perhaps it wouldn't have been so awkward. Breastfeeding involves the transfer of bodily fluids from a woman's breast into an infant's mouth, and yet it is a beautiful act when performed with dignity and discretion. I am all for mother's rights and the rights of infants to get nourishment, but whipping out the tit and suctioning the kid on under flourescent lights only leads to the "vulgarization of the breast" and titters of embarrassment from beleagured Americans who just trying to buy some Chinese-manufactured goods.

    Posted by Heather Hines December 20, 09 01:00 PM
  1. I am sure the woman was being discreet, but if she was very discreet, how did the security guards know she was breast feeding? That being said, I do agree that breasts are looked at as sexual objects in our society. It's just the way we are. And it's not just the prudish people who make it this way, but all the men's magazines and Hollywood too.
    I breastfed my kids, but I did it in my home, or if visiting, in a bedroom provided by the hostess. Some people, even females, are very uncomfortable with breastfeeding. All my female in-laws were.
    I agree that stores should have family lounge rooms where mothers can go and feed their children.

    Posted by patches02 December 20, 09 04:36 PM
  1. Can you spell l-a-w-s-u-i-t?

    Posted by Mr_Hertz December 20, 09 05:00 PM
  1. Seeing that or someone's crack as they bend over... Both are terrible.. Not sure which is worse

    Posted by Eww December 20, 09 05:27 PM
  1. I breast fed my twins and am all for it... that being said - no I don't like to watch other people breast feed. One person's idea of 'discreet' is often not another person's idea! I also agree w/ the person above re why wouldn't a store like Target ( family focused) not have a nice relaxing area where mothers can go to feed?

    Posted by suz December 20, 09 05:40 PM
  1. it is funny how society cares about "discretion" when it involves a mother feeding her baby. but anyone can walk around with their pants hanging half way down their butts with their thong underware showing, walk around half dressed, or wear clothing that is offensive to others and that's called "self expression". as a society we need to make a decision. are we going to allow people to self express or are we going to enforce some modesty???

    Posted by tired of society December 20, 09 06:42 PM
  1. Target is sending the wrong message. The message the sent me is that they are small minded and ignorant and NOT a family store!!!!! I guess they don't want my business. I breast fed in public very discreetly in California and never had any trouble at all. I did it because when you have a very young baby, they do not understand waiting to eat, nor should they. It is their sustenance - their life. Ignorant people who only consider breasts sexual objects are why intelligent people everywhere consider a lot of Americans to be stupid,& uninformed. WTH is wrong with us?

    Posted by Mastermou December 20, 09 09:12 PM
  1. There is nothing wrong with breastfeeding in the electronics section of Target or anywhere else. Its not wrong in church, nor in a restaurant, nor in government building. Women were given breasts in order to feed their children. There is nothing inappropriate about feeding a baby. Babies need to eat--and no, formula is not an equal substitute for public feeding.

    Posted by MakeLoveNotWar December 20, 09 10:32 PM
  1. Absolute stupidity! Target should pay this woman damages and be forced to pay for ad campaigns promoting breastfeeding. There ISN'T anything more natural in the entire world! Do these same people get offended when they go to the Zoo and see a baby gorilla nursing? or, when they see a litter of new born puppies, nursing? NO, they say, oh, how cute. Wake up idiots! get with the times.

    Posted by Adam December 21, 09 03:52 AM
  1. I think it is outrageous that we continue to hear about breastfeeding families getting ostracized in public. It is a sad reflection on our culture that people think it is inappropriate to breastfeed in public. I am so saddened to hear that this family was not only bothered and publicly humiliated, but that they were forced to leave the store. Target should consider a public apology, to this family and to all breastfeeding families. Any parent knows that when an infant, especially as young as four weeks, needs to eat, they need to eat immediately. In my opinion, there is no inappropriate place to breastfeed in a Target. It is other people's problem if they are uncomfortable and they should remove themselves from the situation and leave the breastfeeding family alone.

    Posted by Caitlin Roberts December 21, 09 05:59 AM
  1. i proudly nursed both my babies for their first year. i nursed them wherever, whenever they happened to need to be fed, just as any bottle-feeding mom would have done so with bottles. i was ALWAYS discreet and did my best to respect other people's comfort levels. for example, at my in-laws' house, i did in fact retreat to a room in private.

    i think it is ridiculous that we need to have laws to protect the MAIN PURPOSE OF BREASTS IN THE FIRST PLACE!

    when out shopping, i would have to say that i usually tried to find a comfortable spot where my baby and i would not be interrupted. but againm that was for my own comfort. i can imagine that if you have a baby slong, and it is your third, you can feed the baby and just keep going. i think it makes me think a liot less of Target as a family store. they owe that familt an apology -- publicly.


    Posted by chloe1996 December 21, 09 06:30 AM
  1. Parents should think for a little bit before bringing their children into public places. There are plenty of devices that allow a mother to extract breastmilk into a bottle ahead of time. Exposing oneself in public is a crime for all, including breastfeeding mothers.

    Posted by JB December 21, 09 07:05 AM
  1. theres as much need to BF in public as there is to eat a pizza while shopping. go home, if you or you hungry kids need food, or go out to eat.

    Posted by boston herald December 21, 09 07:22 AM
  1. I breastfed my firstborn...never in public. But I do support a right to do so in a public place however, but not out in the open. I think she could have gone to more of a discreet location. I agree that making a huge spectacle of it was wrong. It wasn't like she robbed the place or something!!!

    Posted by jadee December 21, 09 07:32 AM
  1. This is terrible. Target should be ashamed of themselves. The poor woman was just doing something natural. SO, its okay for girls and women to walk around Target in skin tight shirts, with their muffin tops hanging out and their cleavage for all to see, but discreetly breast feeding a child is endangering their customers??

    I'd sue if I were them.

    Posted by JJ December 21, 09 10:18 AM
  1. Wow....unreal that this is even an issue. We're told left and right that breastfeeding is best, but we're given no place other than at home or dirty store bathrooms to do it. Interesting that a store that sells breastfeeding supplies is that inept to deal with these situations. I applaud this woman for doing what she needed to for a hungry child. I breastfed for 13.5 months while working full time. It's not easy and there are very few stores that make it easier for nursing mothers. Would I personally have chosen the electronics isle, maybe not, but that really should make no difference. Target should consider creating a family room like other stores have if they are concerned with keeping their guests comfortable, especially when they're hoping mother's will register there for their baby items!

    Posted by Lori December 21, 09 10:24 AM
  1. I breastfeed my daugther until she was 9 months old and was never shy about doing it anywhere, but certainly never felt safe enough to do so standing in an aisle. I was afraid I'd trip or something. That said -I did walk around my house nursing my baby at my husbands birthday party- my place, my rules. It's a personal decision, but using a bit of common sense or courtesy is not asking too much. While I never hesitated to nurse my daughter in the Target snack bar area, I did so with my back to the crowd. Discretion is not an infringement on personal rights, it's consideration for others.

    Posted by Stephanie Rand December 21, 09 10:37 AM
  1. there is nothing wrong with breastfeeding. in fact, i signed the petition at thepetitionsite.com/1/womens-consitutional-right-to-go-topless = RIGHTS

    Posted by roffy December 21, 09 11:11 AM
  1. #37: How is feeding a child selfish? If she had let it wail, would that have been more acceptable? Probably not... remember there was that WalMart story a few months ago, when a random stranger slapped someone else's toddler because it was crying.

    #47: You must be joking. How are breastfeeding and wearing too-low pants when bending over even remotely related? Anyway, in either case -- LOOK AWAY THEN.

    Posted by MamaCat December 21, 09 11:33 AM
  1. To JB (number 55) -- Actually, breastfeeding in public is not a crime, and it is not legally considered indecent exposure. The laws specifically allow it. Do you work at Target or something?

    To Boston Herald (number 56) -- When you figure out how to get a newborn on a strict feeding schedule, please let the rest of us know! If there was no need to eat while shopping, malls wouldn't have food courts.

    Posted by One Reader December 21, 09 11:39 AM
  1. The female breast has been turned into a mere marketing tool by our modern secular culture. Those who are offended by breastfeeding are those who don't like to be confronted by its original purpose. To be offended shows profound ignorance.

    Posted by Noah December 21, 09 11:40 AM
  1. I support the right to breastfeed in public, and think it's awful to make babies eat in the bathroom. But a fitting room might be OK! It's private, clean, and some of the ones at Target have a lot of space. There are ways to be discreet.

    What I don't understand is why the police got involved. What a waste of taxpayer money.

    Posted by Momof2 December 21, 09 11:42 AM
  1. I think bf should be done in private, not public. I bf all 3 of my kids and would never put myself in a position to be critizised or embarrassed. While I understand it is natural, so is going to the bathroom and I don't want to be a witness to someone doing that in public either. As one person said, use a pump and take the "goodies" with you in a bottle. No one is offended.

    Posted by Mary Jane December 21, 09 12:47 PM
  1. What if we framed the discussion as an infant's right to eat in public? Nobody tells adults that if they want to eat processed foods or McDonald's they can do it in public but vegetables and fruit have to be eaten at home or in a public bathroom.

    Of course breastfeeding moms should be discreet and 95% of them are -- and I'd rather protect their rights to take good care of the next generation than go after them to prevent the 5% from make a show of the natural act of a baby eating its natural food in the most natural way possible. If teenage boys in the electronics section saw it happen more often, it might be a good thing for all concerned.

    Public bathrooms are a disgusting place to eat and fitting rooms are not necessarily available quickly or for long periods of time. Cars can be cramped, far away, hot/cold or wasting gas idling. Booths and benches may already be taken by others. I have no idea why she chose to feed in the electronics section, but I doubt it was her ideal spot, either -- duty calls and a mom answers.

    The "pump and carry" option is not universally realistic. Some women can breastfeed but not pump enough, plus you are talking about double the time investment (pumping then bottle feeding) for a woman who probably has little time to begin with. That's leaving aside the fact that the mom is probably already carrying around enough supplies for the invasion of Normandy and her breasts will get heavier and more painful the longer she goes without nursing.

    Posted by 42 month breastfeeder (3 kids) December 21, 09 01:53 PM
  1. actually, breastfeeding in public is more conservative then doing it privately. 72000 years ago we were all nudists, so the people who pushed the moral limit then were the ones that started wearing clothes

    Posted by roffy December 22, 09 08:18 PM
  1. The Target incident happened in Detroit, one of the most violent cities in America. The situation escalated when the woman and her cop husband threatened the security guard. That's why the police were called. If I was a security guard and I saw a woman lifting up her shirt in the electronics section of a store, I would immediately think she was shoplifting, not breastfeeding.

    I support breastfeeding, and public breastfeeding is necessary, but exhibitionism isn't. Like it or not, breasts are sexual in American culture.

    A friend of mine worked at Kids R Us. Store policy was to allow breastfeeding anywhere in the store. Now and then, a woman would try to breastfeed her kid while walking around the store topless.

    I was once forced to watch a woman breastfeed her kid. Really. I was at a B&B in Washington DC, at the communal breakfast table. A woman sat down across from me, lifted up her shirt, whipped a breast out, and breast fed her baby right in front of me. I thought it was a weird thing to do in front of a total stranger.

    Posted by Liz December 24, 09 01:59 AM
  1. I breastfed my 4 children, including in public. The one time someone said something to me, I looked blankly at them at first. Then as they insisted that using my breast to feed my child should be done out of sight, I nodded understandingly and said, "Oh - I see. You're a pedophile who can't help but think that there's something sexual about an infant in contact with a woman's breast! I'm sorry to hear that you are so warped, but I hardly think that means I need to change what I am doing. Perhaps you can find some help for your problem." The person looked stunned and quickly walked away. I was sooooo happy to have the chance to use the pedophile accusation against this ignoramous. And yes, if you are one of those people who think breastfeeding should be hidden like defecating an intercourse, then my assumption is that you are a sicko who should never be allowed alone with a child.

    Posted by rebeccat December 27, 09 07:40 PM
  1. How insane is that....in government that attempts to promote breastfeeding. One of the many goals of Healthy People 2010 was to increase the number of women that nurse their babies. Of course, we fell short of those goals...not a surprise with the social hinderances. Besides, their are laws (in 43 states) that protect women, those laws have been put into place for a reason. It is unexceptable that a woman should feel ashamed or be excorted out of building for breastfeeding. Feeding your child should NOT be considered indecent exposure.

    Posted by Suzy March 6, 10 06:06 AM
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