Breast-Feeding Women Descend on Walmart After Store Shames Nursing Mom
Given the many health benefits of breast-feeding—and that most shoppers don’t want to hear an hungry infant screaming in aisle nine—you’d think stores would be more supportive of a woman’s effort to feed her baby. But perhaps a manager at a Walmart in Oklahoma likes crying children, or didn’t know that the state has a law protecting a woman’s right to nurse in public. Either way, he's probably regretting telling new mom Elizabeth Moreno to quit nursing her child and cover up.
“I was kind of shocked, like, do what? I didn’t know what I was doing wrong,” Moreno told Fox 23 on Tuesday.
Moreno left the store last week feeling humiliated by the manager’s request, but she didn’t hang her head for long. On Tuesday, she and about 20 other mothers and their infants descended on the store to hold a breast-feeding demonstration called a nurse-in.
A nurse-in is like an old-school sit-in, but with more breast-feeding. To protest the manager’s behavior, Moreno and the other moms walked around the Walmart in Glenpool, about 15 minutes south of Tulsa, with their babies. As you can see in the video below, some of the women chose to openly nurse their infants while they walked.
“We did get some looks and stuff. People were very curious,” one of the moms, Renee McBay, told the station.
Moreno said that the when the manager approached her last week, he said another customer had complained about her breast-feeding.
“I was like, ‘Oh no, I’m protected by Oklahoma law that it’s OK to breast-feed in public,’ ” she said.
The station contacted a Walmart spokesperson, who said that the company is investigating the situation and that it supports a woman’s right to nurse her child inside its stores.
It’s unclear whether the manager in Glenpool was aware of Walmart’s corporate policy on breast-feeding in public—or if he knew Moreno had the legal right to nurse her baby on the premises. But in order to ensure that folks in the community are aware, she and the other nurse-in participants passed out pamphlets educating Walmart shoppers and employees about their right to feed a hungry infant.
Those pamphlets could come in handy elsewhere around the country too, because moms keep on being taken to task for breast-feeding in public.
Last June, Karlesha Thurman was shamed online for sharing a photo on social media of her nursing her baby during her graduation from California State University, Long Beach. Then in August, an employee at an Anthropologie store in Beverly Hills, California, asked mom Ingrid Wiese Hesson to stop nursing on the premises. Nearly 100 moms held a nurse-in at the store to support Hesson’s legal right to feed her infant, and the backlash against the retailer went viral across Facebook and Twitter.
In the workplace, women have long been illegally steered toward filthy bathrooms and closets in order to use their breast pumps. This week, news broke that the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the petition of Angela Ames, who had sued her former employer, Nationwide Insurance, alleging that the company made it tough for her to use her breast pump in the office and coerced her into resigning from her job.
Maybe more nurse-ins are needed to help people finally understand that feeding a baby is not optional. Or perhaps moms should just threaten shoppers with the alternative and let their hungry infants shriek in public for 10 minutes. Let’s see how folks feel about that.