Nashville campaign wants breastfeeding mothers to feel welcome
NASHVILLE (WRCB/AP) - The Metro Health Department is encouraging local businesses to make breastfeeding mothers "feel welcome."
Breastfeeding in public is protected under state law, but some business owners still discourage it.
Now Nashville businesses are being asked to place a decal of the international breastfeeding symbol in their windows as part of the "breastfeeding welcomed here" campaign.
The effort is part of the Health Department's $7.5 million NashVitality campaign to improve residents' health.
The campaign is funded by a federal grant to fight obesity, and breastfeeding has been linked to lower rates of obesity in children. Studies also have found that breastfeeding can decrease the risk of diabetes, diarrhea and respiratory and ear infections.
"With all the health benefits to the baby and the mom, it's something we should be advocating, supporting and removing any barriers that stand in the way of this natural nutrition," said Dr. Kimberlee Wyche-Etheridge, director of the family, youth and infant health bureau at the Metro Health Department.
Tara Shields, owner of the Green Wagon, is one of the business owners who teamed up with the Health Department to make the breastfeeding campaign happen.
Shields said she never felt uncomfortable about breastfeeding her son in public places.
Speaking of the decal, she said, "I want it to be huge in the front to help people feel as free as I did. We want people to feel comfortable and meet their needs while shopping at our store."
Megan Morton said her experience of nursing in public has not always been positive.
The mother of three works with Nashville BirthNetwork, a nonprofit group advocating for mother-friendly care and policies.
Morton said she knows her rights and was shocked to be asked once to go sit where people couldn't see her breastfeeding. She quickly pulled out a breastfeeding rights card that includes the Tennessee statutes recognizing her right to nurse publicly.
Morton said she is thankful for the new campaign.
"This will allow women the ability to feel comfortable where they should be allowed to nurse anyway," she said.
"Hopefully this will keep women nursing longer."
We put the question to you, "Would you visit a restaurant that promotes breast-feeding in public?" In less than two hours we received over 300 comments on this topic.
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