Breastfeeding at Target: Moms Stage National Demonstration

Dec 28, 2011 2:25pm
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Michelle Hickman, left, smiles as she joins other mothers at nurse-in at a Webster, Texas Target store. (Courtesy Penny Montgomery-Schlanser)

A nursing mother’s upsetting experience at her local Target last month has led to “nurse-in” demonstrations at Target stores nationwide.

Mothers from across the country have posted pictures of themselves nursing at Target stores — from Maryland to Minnesota — to a Facebook page used to organize the event. (A Target spokeswoman has confirmed that nursing mothers showed up at Target stores today but said the chain was still gathering information on the scale of the demonstrations.)

“I never knew that sitting in a Target and doing what’s normal — which is feeding my baby — would result in all of this one day but I’m glad it did, ” Michelle Hickman, the woman who inspired the event, told ABCNews.com.

 

Last month at a Webster, Texas Target store, Hickman began nursing her fussy, hungry infant son in the store’s women’s clothing section. Hickman, 35, said that eight Target employees eventually surrounded her and two asked her to move to a fitting room to finish nursing. The other employees, she said, rolled their eyes at her and gave her dirty looks.

Hickman said she tried explaining that Texas law allowed her to breastfeed in public, but the employees wouldn’t listen. Hickman said she later called Target’s corporate offices but was disatisfied with their response. She said the retailer has yet to apologize to her directly.

In a statement to ABCNews.com, Target said that it supports the use of fitting rooms for breastfeeding — even if other customers are waiting to use the rooms — but also that “(g)uests who choose to breastfeed in public areas of the store are welcome to do so without being made to feel uncomfortable.”

“We continually educate our team members in stores across the country on store policies to ensure all guests have a great experience. Target has been in touch with the store to ensure all team members are aware of our breastfeeding policy. Target is proud to support all mothers who breastfeed year-round, including today,” the retailer said.

Hickman, who is calling for a national law to protect women’s rights to breastfeed in public, said the nationwide demonstration was organized by fellow moms with whom she shared her experience. Her story was also publicized by the pro-breastfeeding group, Best for Babes, which later contacted Target about the incident. (The response the group said it received from Target is posted here.)

Hickman participated at a nurse-in this morning at the same Target store where the November incident took place. She was joined by an estimated 50 other mothers.

“It felt great, it’s nice to see us all just coming together,” said Kelly Roth, 29, of Lake City, Texas, one of the organizers. “We shouldn’t have to sit at home or in a bathroom to (nurse.) Babies shouldn’t have to wait.”

A nurse-in took place at Whole Foods supermarket stores last summer after a Utah mother complained of how employees treated her while she was nursing. Whole Foods later issued an apology and praised the nurse-in.

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