get up, stand up...

...stand up for your right.  get up, stand up.  don't give up the fight (if you didn't get the reference check out this link).

yesterday, my sister-in-law and a friend of mine took part in a movement.  a movement to educate.  a movement to change public perception.  a movement to normalize nursing (especially nursing in public).

this is not the first time i've written about breastfeeding in public.  the last time was a short little post 5 years ago about a magazine cover showing a babe nursing.  my views about breastfeeding since then haven't changed.

if you haven't already heard about it in the media, there was a national nurse-in yesterday at hundreds of targets across the nation (and canada too).  the nurse-in was in response to one woman's experience while at a target breastfeeding her baby about a month ago (details found here).  based on what i've read, it was not the first time target employees had given nursing mothers a hard time at their store (2006 incident here and 2009 incident here).  while target policy apparently supports breastfeeding mothers, i think the consistency in training their employees about this policy is obviously lacking.

so why the big hub-bub about a national nurse-in?  why not just have a nurse-in at that one particular target where the mother was harassed?  honestly, i don't think a local nurse-in would be as effective.  i think the purpose of the national nurse-in is really to change public perception on public nursing.  to make it normal.  not sexual or offensive or disgusting.  how is it disgusting and sexual to provide your baby with nourishment?  i think that part of the problem, when people view breastfeeding as offensive or disgusting, is attributed to the oversexualization of the female body.  i loathe going by the victoria's secret where you see blown up models clothed in merely a bra and panties.  or how about a mall?  or some of the men's magazines we have around (maxim, sports illustrated swimsuit edition to name a few).  i have an impressionable 14 year old son for pete's sake!  how is he supposed to respect a woman's body, when the majority of imagery of women that he sees is about sex, sex and more sex??  i also have a beautiful, sensitive little girl.  when she is exposed to a lot of the same imagery, what does that tell her about herself and her body?  i was that girl.  i remember feeling insecure about my self-image and seeing those magazines and catalogs only fueled my insecurities.  thankfully, i have my sweet jesus who gives me security in who i am and how i look like (and also my husband...who pursues me daily like i'm one hot potato!).

but i digress.  the national nurse-in...important?  yes.

why?  we want mothers to breastfeed their babies, because it's the perfect food for them.  according to the world health organization, breastfeeding is recommended up to 2 years of age and beyond.  we want mothers to be encouraged when nursing their babes, especially first time mothers.  but when things like this target incident (or how about the victoria's secret one and the whole foods one) happen, it provides a barrier to breastfeeding mamas everywhere.  if you are made to feel unwelcome each time you try to feed your hungry baby, then how much more will you continue to nurse your child?  it isn't always convenient to pump (and for me personally, i had difficulty pumping for all my kids so if i had given up nursing i would have turned to formula early on).  it takes time, and if you have more than 1 child finding time to sit and pump becomes even more difficult.  so the national nurse-in is more about re-educating the public about breastfeeding and normalizing nursing. 

our own personal nurse-in experience yesterday went quite well.  we were a small group of 3 mamas (and 1 supportive friend), but it was great to be able to hang out and support one another.  choosing to breastfeed in public is not always easy.  as a first time mom, i was quite gun-shy about it at first.  and if i hadn't had positive experiences and supportive family during those first few months i probably would have given up nursing after the "recommended" 6 months.

there was no negativity experienced by us in our target store.  the employees were friendly, and though they were made aware (like all the other target stores nationwide) about the nurse-in i'm not sure if they knew that the 3 of us were the "protestors."  and that's totally fine.  the point of the nurse-in is to normalize breastfeeding.  so if no one noticed or thought it was a big deal, then that's fantastic.  because it shouldn't be a big deal.  we had a couple of customers who chatted with us, but made no reference about the nurse-in.  most of their comments were about our kids and how cute they were.  but i know that this experience was not the same at all the targets.  there were some who endured some negative comments, and even reading the comments on some of the media websites after the nurse-in coverage can be disheartening and hurtful.  but again, that was the whole reason for the nurse-in.  there's definitely so much more i can add to this post, but then it would turn into a post too long for anyone to want to read.  plus, my children are calling me.  

i don't know if we'll make the history books, per se, but it was an awesome experience to be a part of.  i am thankful that where we are at, i can be a part of a supportive community that doesn't bash on women who choose to nurse their babes (privately or publicly). 

it isn't about us.  it's about our babies and their right to eat.


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