Women host nurse-in at TV studios following derogatory on-air remarks by news anchors
Chicago, IL â€“ This Sunday, mothers will gather from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. to â€œnurse inâ€ at FOX News Chicago studios (205 N. Michigan Ave.), followed by a walk to ABCâ€™s studios at 190 N. State Street. Â The nurse-in is an exercise of the right of Illinois women to breastfeed their babies where and how they deem best, and is in response to this weekâ€™s derogatory statements by FOX and ABC anchors, comparing breastfeeding to â€œpicking your nose in publicâ€ and questioning why a woman would not simply cover up so as not to offend those around her.s
Organizers of the nurse-in hope for a dialogue with the news studios about the issue, citing the following:
- Breastfeeding is not sexual. Â Nursing is a necessary and beneficial act, done by a mother primarily to benefit her baby. Â Those who see a woman using her breast to feed her child as a sexual or offensive act are viewing a biological function through the lens of a hypersexualized society â€“ one where it is acceptable to flaunt and cheapen our bodies, but less acceptable to use them in a natural and healthy way to benefit our babies.Heather McMackin, nurse-in co-organizer and mother of a 12 month old daughter, said, â€œItâ€™s sensational and inaccurate to say â€“ as was said on these news programs â€“ that women are â€˜exposing themselvesâ€™ or being inconsiderate of others by nursing their babies. Â None of us are exhibitionists. Â Itâ€™s demeaning to imply anything close to that, when many of us already feel uncomfortable about feeding our babies in public. Â And itâ€™s backwards that we are open to public criticism for showing much less breast over a nursing baby than what would be shown in a low-cut top or any bathing suit.â€
- As a public health issue, mothers need support for breastfeeding â€“ not shaming. Â Multiple studies cite a lack of social support as a major barrier to increasing breastfeeding rates in the U.S., where we lag behind other developed countries in a simple, accessible, scientifically proven way to provide our babies with the best â€œnutrition, immunity, and digestionâ€ possible. Â Section 5 of Illinoisâ€™ Right to Breastfeed Act (740 ILCS 137/5) confirms that the Surgeon General of the United States recommends that babies be fed breastmilk â€œin order to attain an optimal healthy start,â€ while research continuously affirms the long-term benefits to the public health (for example, drastically reduced risks of diabetes, obesity, cancer, and autoimmune diseases, all now on the rise in our country).As a matter of public health, women and babies need encouragement for breastfeeding â€“ including from public figures.
- It is a womanâ€™s right to breastfeed where and how she chooses. Section 10 of the same Act cited above provides mothers with the legal right to nurse in â€œany location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.â€ Â Nursing in public is a protected civil right in Illinois.
- Women should support women. Â How we choose to feed our babies should not be fodder for ridicule. Â If a woman chooses to use formula or is unable to breastfeed, she should expect support for that, as well. Â All women, and especially women in the public eye, should take every opportunity to lift each other up, regardless of the issue.
Co-organizer and mother of one, Nina-Carolina Fraser Portela, said: â€œShaming women in any way for nursing, including public speculation on whether or not they should cover up, is a step backwards. Â Weâ€™d appreciate an acknowledgment of that from FOX and ABC news, and a more thoughtful look at this issue. Â They and the public figures they put on the air can help set a new standard of respect for women who prioritize their babiesâ€™ needs in this way.â€
â€œOur goal is to get people to think about breastfeeding in a different, more pragmatic, and more positive way. Â Society needs to shift its views, instead of mothers and babies having to shift themselves â€“ relegated to dirty public restrooms to avoid potentially offending someone,â€ McMackin added. Â â€œIt may be a little uncomfortable at first, but â€˜normalizingâ€™ breastfeeding is a healthy step forward for families.â€