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Nurse-ins have been organized at over 200 Target retail stores in 49 states across the country for 10 a.m. local time on Wednesday, December 28th, 2011. Washington has 12 nurse-ins organized at the Southcenter, Silverdale, Bellingham, Lynnwood, Spokane, Olympia, Northgate, Yakima, Gig Harbor, Lakewood and Kelso Target stores. These peaceful gatherings of breastfeeding parents and babies aim to raise awareness about the normalcy of breastfeeding and nursing in public, as well as the need for Target and other national corporations to have clear written policies and employee trainings upholding these basic human experiences.
The roots of the national Target nurse-ins began on November 29th, when Michelle Hickman was nursing her baby in a remote corner of a Houston Target store. She had chosen to use a cover and find a space unfrequented by customers, but was accosted by employees who insisted she nurse in the fitting room, threatened her, and embarrassed and humiliated her. When Ms. Hickman called Target Guest Relations, she was told that Targets policies are different from the law and was further harassed. Upon going up the chain of command, she was promised an apology, however, to date she has only received a written re-stating of Targets corporate policy; with no mention of the words we are sorry, we regret, we apologize or any other phrase that can be interpreted as apologetic. There has been no public statement, consequence for the employees, or indication that Target will make an effort to properly train employees on the rights of breastfeeding mothers and the need to support their efforts.
Target has a history of inconsistency in how they treat breastfeeding customers. Some mothers give their local stores rave reviews, others have come forth to say they were embarrassed or humiliated for nursing in their local store. Clearly, the corporate policy on breastfeeding customers that Target announced after such an incident in 2006 is not being implemented effectively across all 1700 stores in theU.S., and it is not acceptable that women continue to be harassed at Target stores for exercising their basic human right to nurse their babies as they see fit. It is not acceptable that a mother who contacts Guest Relations has not received an official apology.
Best for Babes, a national non-profit that aims to help moms beat the Booby Traps that prevent them from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals, has helped Michelle Hickman share her story, which quickly mobilized over 6,000 facebook fans on a closed page to organize the events across the country. The momentum has been tremendous, says Bettina Forbes, Co-Founder of Best for Babes, it shows that the time has come to end the harassment, discrimination, and social disapproval of moms over a behavior which is not only legal, but as instinctive as hugging and as good for them as exercise. When breastfeeding happens, we all win. New moms deserve cheers, not sneers!
There are Breastfeeding Coalitions in every US state, territory and tribal nation, available to help store owners craft policies and train staff to accommodate the simple needs of breastfeeding customers and employees.
Breastfeeding Coalitions are also among the groups advocating for passage of the Breastfeeding Promotion Act, sponsored by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and New York Representative Carolyn Maloney, that would protect breastfeeding as a civil right, regardless of where the mother and child are at the time the baby is hungry. Almost all states have laws protecting breastfeeding in public. Most affirm a womans right to breastfeeding in public wherever she and her child have a right to be; others further clarify that breastfeeding is protected from indecent exposure charges, but in many cases, they are not being upheld. Federal legislation would go a long way toward unifying the protections needed, just as clearly-communicated corporate retail policies go a long way in directing employees how to support breastfeeding in their environment.
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Best for Babes believes that all moms deserve to make a truly informed feeding decision and to be cheered on, coached and celebrated without pressure, judgment or guilt. All breastfeeding moms deserve to achieve their personal breastfeeding goals without being undermined by cultural and institutional Booby Traps. See
The Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington works to promote, protect and support breastfeeding as a vital part of the health and development of children and families. Learn more at
Contact: Rachel Schwartz
Phone: 206.919.1993