Johnny Rockets: Unsupportive to Nursing Mothers

Image from flickr.com

As you’re aware from my previous blog post, this is National Breastfeeding Month.  During this month breastfeeding is recognized for the value it brings to infants. Although, it is the mother’s choice whether or not to breastfeed her child, many people seem to have their own opinions about breastfeeding, especially when it comes to when and where they think it is appropriate.

In a recent article I learned about a woman who was asked to leave a Johnny Rockets restaurant in Newport, Kentucky because she was publicly breastfeeding her six-month-old child on the patio of the restaurant. The manager had received complaints from several customers who felt uncomfortable with what the mother was doing, despite her attempt to be discreet by covering her nursing child with a blanket.  The manager suggested to the mother that she continue feeding her child in the restaurant’s restroom, but when she refused to do so, he eventually asked her to leave. 

This incident drew the attention of many outraged mothers who began to protest outside of Johnny Rockets.

I don’t think that the mother in this case should have been asked to move away from the other restaurant patrons, nor should she have been sent to the restroom to feed her child. And I think that the restaurant manager was wrong for making the mother feel ashamed and marginalized for choosing to do something natural. (All mammals nurse their young, right?) 

Laws actually exist in most states in the US to protect a mother’s right to breastfeed publicly.  In the state of Kentucky where this incident happened, the law permits a mother to breastfeed her baby or express breast milk in any public or private location; furthermore, the law protects the act of breastfeeding from being considered an act of public indecency.  Here in Missouri, the law allows mothers to breastfeed, with “as much discretion as possible,” in any private or public location.  And just across the state line in Kansas, the law also supports and encourages a mother’s choice to breastfeed, and permits a mother to breastfeed in any place she has a right to be.

More understanding of these laws is necessary, so that mothers who choose to breastfeed their children feel supported in their choices and so that restaurant owners and restaurant diners (and everyone else, for that matter) can be more sympathetic.  National Breastfeeding Month and many non-profit Organizations strive to bring awareness to the benefits that breastfeeding can bring to a child and to bring advocacy for the mother’s right to breastfeed her child.  It is still up to the individual mother whether she breastfeeds her child or not, but at least she can be assured that in most states, the law is on her side if she chooses to do so.