Nursing a baby in the summer heat can be a challenge, so why would anyone suggest that a mom dash outside to breastfeed? That's what one Missouri mom says happened when she was at her local Michaels craft store, and she's understandably upset about it.
Jessa, her mom and her baby girl were shopping at the Brentwood, Missouri, Michaels for first birthday supplies when it became clear she needed to nurse her little one. She reports that in addition to being asked to go outside, they were extremely hesitant to help her. Finally, someone placed a chair facing a corner in the craft room for her to nourish her child. Yes, you read that right — she and her baby were put in the corner.
So, let me get this straight. In addition to breaking the law by asking her to go outside, they then literally put her in a corner to breastfeed her baby. After Jessa was annoyed and humiliated by Michaels employees who didn't have a clue about breastfeeding rights and laws, she took her complaint to management via a phone call later that day. She says the manager she spoke with was condescending, gave an insincere apology and asked her to bring in a copy of the state law that spelled out the legality of feeding a baby.
I've breastfed four kids, and it can be miserable to nurse when it's hot outside. You're hot, the baby's hot and the sweat you both generate is a sight to behold. There are ways to make it more comfortable, but asking a mother and her small child to go outside when it's over the century mark is truly ridiculous and cruel.
But there is another angle to consider. In Missouri, as with every other location in the U.S., moms have the legal right to breastfeed their children anywhere they are allowed to be. There are also laws in Missouri that specifically protect nursing moms from being charged with indecent exposure. Also, breastfeeding cannot be considered sexual conduct, obscenity or public indecency. So honestly, while the weather was a factor, it's not the only reason she should be upset. If someone had suggested that I tote my child and myself outside to nurse, whether it was hot outside or not, I would have been just as peeved as Jessa is.
The entire corporation isn't to blame for one store's misguided employees and management, but training needs to come from the top, which is where the changes need to be made. If they don't have a company-wide breastfeeding policy, one needs to be implemented ASAP. If they do, then they need to make a much more concentrated effort to train management and staff. Asking a nursing mom to step out to nurse her kiddo is not only seriously uncool, but it's illegal. I hope they make it right with Jessa and use this opportunity to make their stores a safe place for nursing moms and babies.
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