Great Nurse-In: Breastfeeding Moms Take to DC

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on January 19, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Breastfeeding mothers will unite on August 4, 2012 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Mother of two Rachel Papantonakis is organizing what will either be dubbed "The Great Nurse-in" or "The Million-Boob March." The event will focus on shedding more awareness on public breastfeeding laws.

It will also take place during World Breastfeeding Week, which this year falls on August 1-7.

Papantonakis told The Washington Post that she has never been pressured not to breastfeed in public. But she personally felt angered whenever she heard of other mothers' plights and stories.

Her goal is to have a "bunch of nursing women, their babies, and supporters spending an afternoon on the Mall." She also aims to raise awareness about the statutory protections for public nursing.

There are a variety of public breastfeeding laws on the books . Specific protections depend on the state. However, nearly all states have statutes that allow women to breastfeed in public.

A further 28 states specifically exempt nursing women from public indecency charges. About 24 states allow women to breastfeed at work.

These legislative protections are not necessarily well-known. Just this past December, Target shopper Michelle Hickman organized a "nurse in" at the company's stores nationwide. Hickman organized the protest after her own experience. She was stopped by a Target employee for nursing her son.

There is also a certain stigma that surrounds nursing in public. Some individuals feel uncomfortable viewing it. NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne tweeted that he spotted a mother nursing in public. He called it "nasty" -- though he later apologized, the Washington Post notes.

If you want to chime in and raise awareness on breastfeeding laws, you might want to sign up for Papantonakis' nurse-in. She has a Facebook page dedicated to the event. She is also fielding suggestions for the name. The D.C. mom is still undecided between "The Great Nurse-in" and "The Million-Boob March."

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