When: Sept 8th at noon, Where: Applebees, Why:...

This is all that a person can see of a nursing mother's breast when it is not covered with a blanket. Are you offended?

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; September 1, 2007 - PUBLIC PROTESTS APPLEBEE'S RESTAURANTS NATIONWIDE (press release)-

Breastfeeding supporters will gather on Saturday, September 8, 2007, at 12:00 pm at Applebee's restaurants across the country to protest the treatment of Brooke Ryan and her 7 month old child.

Allegedly, on June 14th, while Ms. Ryan was breastfeeding her baby discreetly in a corner booth during an anniversary dinner with her family, an Applebee's Manager asked her to cover her baby with a blanket. Ms. Ryan responded by citing the Kentucky law that states that "no person shall interfere with a woman breastfeeding her child". Ms. Ryan then produced a copy of the statute that she had received from the Kentucky Health Department, an organization that encourages women to keep a copy with them for situations such as the one she was experiencing. The manager, after reviewing a copy of the statute continued to insist that she had to "cover the baby with a blanket" if she wanted to breastfeed there, and that nursing her child was "indecent". The family left the restaurant before being served their meal, Ms. Ryan and baby in tears.

Shortly following the incident, Ms. Ryan retained the services of a lawyer who contacted Thomas and King, the company that owns and operates the Lexington Applebee's location. Nearly 2 months later, the company responded with a letter stating "we are considering keeping blankets in the restaurants for use by breastfeeding mothers that may not have them readily available," with the intent that mothers will be forced to put them over their babies.

Breastfeeding supporters have decided to conduct a public protest at the store location, as well as locations nationwide. It will occur on Saturday, September 8, 2007, at noon. When Senator Tom Buford, (Rep., KY), who spearheaded the passage of the Kentucky public breastfeeding law was told of the planned protest at the store in Lexington, KY, he said, "Let me know the date and I will come by and support you", and also made a suggestion of an appropriate sign for the event: "small children are not allowed to eat in this restaurant."

Even though there is a patchwork of strong and weak state laws aimed at protecting a woman's right to nurse her baby, the mistreatment Ms. Ryan encountered is far too common. Most women who nurse their babies will at some time be forced to feel the shameful sting of discrimination. Usually this burden is carried by a woman in secrecy, due to fear of further anguish to her family. Some women choose to bring their stories to the public in an effort to educate and bring about a positive change. Earlier this year, a Pennsylvania woman was threatened with arrest if she did not stop breastfeeding her child at her local mall. Last November, a mother in Vermont was kicked off of a Delta flight for not covering up while breastfeeding her child. The Delta incident resulted in over 800 participants protesting the discrimination by conducting "nurse-ins" at Delta counters in over 40 cities across the US.

"Because most public breastfeeding laws do not provide a clear remedy for women who are harassed or discriminated against," said Salem Hamilton, Executive Director of Birth Without Boundaries, International, "we are asking for breastfeeding supporters across the country to encourage their legislators to add enforcement provisions to their state's laws that would provide the protection women and babies need".

On Wednesday, August 31, 2007, the official corporate response as given by Mr. Alex Bressette, Applebee's corporate office's International Guest Relations Manager, is as follows: "Applebee's and its franchisees love having families dine together at our restaurants. We believe that this francihisee made a reasonable and lawful request of this guest in order to promote a pleasant and comfortable experience for all of its guests."

In the spirit of the existing diversity and inclusion policy published by Applebee's Restaurants, Birth Without Boundaries, Intl. is asking the corporation to adopt and implement an official breastfeeding friendly policy. As a breastfeeding mother, Ms. Ryan is doing the best for her child by giving him the optimum nutrition possible. According to UNICEF, if infants worldwide were fed only mother's milk for their first six months, at least 1.3 million lives a year would be saved.

The September 8, 2007 event is sponsored by Birth Without Boundaries, International; a Pennsylvania based non profit organization committed to eliminating restrictions placed on birthing mothers and their babies.

Inquiries may be directed to www.birthwithoutboundaries.com


Kerrie said...

I saw this in my Mommy meet up group a while ago - I thought it had to be a hoax when I read about the blankets. How gross!!

kris said...

that's what i was thinking, that is disgusting, i would never even think of using a blanket provided by a restataunt who knows what lives on it! bleh!

that is unbelievable that they would complain like that, i can't even imagine who was so upset about it and the thought process they went through b4 they walked over and insisted that she cover up. i'm going to see what i can find out about any applebees around here and what my state law are... thanx for posting this!

anj said...

this makes me so mad! i nursed my son until he was over 14 months old, and i fed him whenever, where ever he needed to eat. and let me tell you - it's hard to keep all things hidden when your 14 month old wants to see what's going on at the mall in the middle of snack time! but i have never experienced anything like this!

stick with it, women, and we will convince the world that breastfeeding is healthy, natural and NOTHING to be ashamed of!

sj3339sta said...

I have to say that while I am not offended by the picture you posted or by a woman breast feeding, I still don't want to see it. This is why they make breast milk pumps. That way a mother can pump and not have to take the chance of offending or showing too much of herself out and about.

Nicole D said...

sj - though I value your opinion, I greatly disagree with it for many reasons:

1) a baby does not get the same benefits if the milk is pumped before being fed... First, they will be missing out on the bonding. Second, when a baby nurses, a little of their saliva is left behind on the nipple and drawn into the breast. The breast then analyzes the saliva and manufactures milk specific to babies needs for the next feeding (ie, baby has a small cold, breast can tell, and makes milk with more antibodies next meal). Baby will not get that benefit from pumped milk.

2) some breasts do not let down for pumps. Myself included, some women simply cannot pump. Their bodies refuse to be 'duped' to let their milk out for anything other than a mouth.

3) Some babies refuse bottles. My baby is a strict nurser as he refuses to be 'duped' into taking milk from anything except mommy.

And finally, if I don't want to see an overweight person eating, do I have the right to ask the person or expect that person to take/have their meal in an alternative way or place to accomodate me?

Trin said...

Hmmm, well in response to sj's post, I am sorry if I do offend anyone or make them uncomfortable when I breastfeed in public, but honestly that would never stop me. Another person's OPINION of my actions are very low down on the importance scale when I am nourishing my baby as it needs it. Frankly, I think it's just bad luck if a person has a problem with public breastfeeding and then encounters it. It's not any one else's problem but your own, and you need to deal with it, rather than make it a problem for others.

Kim said...

Nicole - I hope when I eventually nurse my own babies, I can be bold and give great reasons like that! I, for one, am fascinated by nursing and LOVE to see mommies feeding their babies in such a special way!!

p.s. I tagged you for a meme on my blog, come check out the rules. I hope you can participate!

kris said...

sounds like the nurse-in went really well;) yey for nursing moms everywhere!!

Jenny Nash said...

As a nursing mother (my little guy is 10 mos now) I agree with most of what is said here. However, I do believe that sometimes (on the rarest of occassions) mothers use their babies and their right to breastfeed as a show-off way to protest that says "Yes I AM breastfeeding in public and I dare you to say something to stop me!"

Instead of getting all in a huff about the right or breastfeed anywhere and at anytime, I think we ought to applaud the public places and businesses that provide CLEAN and COMFORTABLE places for a mother to nurse her baby. One place I can think of off the top of my head is Nordstrom's. They provide a beautiful Mother's Room on each level of their store. It's roomy, comfortable and clean. And better yet, whenever I go in there I always meet other new, nursing moms and find myself engaged in lovely conversation with a new friend.

I don't know about the rest of the nursing mothers out there but I personally find it much easier to nurse in a place when there is not so much noise and commotion going on. My milk lets down a lot easier and my son isn't distracted.

Of course, the vast majority of public places do not provide any of this and thus women are forced to do their best with what they are given.

Hula Doula said...

It is interesting to me that when we lived in Europe for the summers women just nursed their children in public. No one batted an eye. I think that people make such a big deal out of breasts. OH that's right...THAT'S WHAT THEY ARE FOR! If a mother has problems nursing...no problem...I understand but when people make an issue out of a mother caring for her child....I have an issue.
It sounds as if the nurse in went well.

Anonymous said...

I plan to breastfeed (currently 21 weeks preggo), and I am in no way offended by the picture, or the thought of someone nursing in a booth next to me at a restaurant. I do, however, agree that out of respect for others, women should get off their high horses and just put a blanket over themselves. Is it TRULY a difficult task to set a blanket over your shoulder? Also, Nicole D, you mentioned the bonding factor, which I definitely agree with. However, when your baby is sitting there eating, while a bunch of strangers are wandering past, is that really some beautiful bonding experience? I think of a bonding time as when I am sitting with my baby in private, holding them and staring at them, while feeding, and we're the only people in the world that matter... It's no longer a bonding experience, mostly just a (as jenny nash SORT of mentioned) moment for a women to feel empowered, like you DAMN WELL BETTER NOT look at me cross eyed, cause I'm gonna whip my boob out and breastfeed whether you like it or not, and NO, I will NOT cover up.
Yes, it is natural, and necessary. So is going to the bathroom. What if someone at applebees popped a squat next to you, then tried to argue that it is a natural human occurrence, and that they needed to do it right then. It takes 2 seconds to pull out a blanket and cover yourself up. Just as it takes 2 seconds to head to the bathroom when you get the runs. There are certain things that ARE natural things, that must be done at certain times, and can't be postponed, however, there is still a certain level of respect and privacy that people deserve.
You shouldn't be critical of someone who disagrees with your opinions on breastfeeding, just be respectful of people with other opinions.

Maybe once you all get over yourselves, and drape a blanket over your shoulder, breastfeeding in public can actually be a "bonding experience" for you and your baby, something positive. Rather than some big controversy, where you are busy glaring at people the whole time, to scare them away from saying ANYTHING negative about you not covering up.

Sorry, just my OPINION.

kris said...

anon- come back and give us your opinion when you actually are breastfeeding a 10 month old, in public, under a blanket. love to hear how it goes for you...


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