Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

Breastfeeders planning a nurse-in at the Capitol Building

A peaceful nurse-in will be taking place August 4 on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building to raise breastfeeding awareness as well as support and empower nursing moms.

The Great Nurse-In

Read on to learn about what prompted the nurse-in and how to join in.

Mark your calendars — on August 4, breastfeeding moms and their supporters will descend upon the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building for a peaceful nurse-in. In the Washington, DC area? This is an excellent opportunity to help raise breastfeeding awareness.

The origins

The Nurse-In

Program events and activities are scheduled from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday, August 4, 2012. The program will include a main stage with keynote speakers and entertainers, centers with breastfeeding support activities, opportunities to share stories and experiences and other family activities for all attendees. Rachel expects around 500 participants to partake, and if you’re a breastfeeding advocate in the area, why not stop by?

The Great Nurse-In was prompted by a number of individual mothers who have been harassed or embarrassed for breastfeeding their babies in public (such as the mothers at Target and at an Ohio water park). While most publicized breastfeeding-in-public stories resulted in local nurse-ins, Rachel Papantonakis, founder and lead organizer of the Great Nurse-In, wanted to do something on a larger scale.

“While the events planned in response to many of these individual incidents have their merits, I thought having a proactive, positive event would also help the cause, where we’re promoting public breastfeeding as a whole,” she told us. “Our goal is to empower and support current and future nursing mothers, and to educate and engage non-nursers. We aim to remove the social stigma of public nursing so that all families can make the feeding decisions that work best for them without the fear of public scrutiny.“

Breastfeeding obstacles

Mothers face countless obstacles that their grandmothers may not have faced, especially issues surrounding nursing in public. “We hear that we should exclusively breastfeed until 6 months and then nurse until at least a year as solids are introduced, but since the United States, in general, has woeful maternity leave policies, we have to be away from our babies far too soon, which can cause strains on nursing relationships, work dynamics and other aspects of our lives,” Rachel said. “Somehow, particularly in the United States, it became socially unacceptable to feed our babies the way our bodies were made to do it.”


Rachel shares the goals of many breastfeeding advocates — that a federal law be enacted that makes provisions for workplace standards for breastfeeding and pumping, improved maternity leave, public breastfeeding protection with an enforcement provision and breastfeeding education funding.

“By doing the Great Nurse-In, we’re showing other moms that it can be done, teaching children that this is what our bodies were made to do, and making it a normal sight for non-nursers so that it will be a non-issue in the future,” she explained.

More on breastfeeding in public

Is breastfeeding in a military uniform taboo?
Breastfeeding a toddler and conquering challenges
Target experiences nationwide nurse-in

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.