Breastfeeding group seeks to educate

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom Newspapers

A Clovis breastfeeding support group believes education is the best way to spotlight the issue of breastfeeding in public.

Although they have had no problems with the local Applebee’s restaurant, the group supports a nationwide protest planned for today against the national restaurant chain, according to group spokeswoman Heidi Zamora.

The national protest was spurred by Internet support groups responding to a June 14 incident in Kentucky in which a woman said she was asked by Applebee’s personnel to cover her child while she breastfed.

Zamora said they will have literature on hand and hope to educate those interested about breastfeeding, she said.

Zamora and her group is welcome at Applebee’s, according to Windy Dehem, a spokeswoman for the company that operates the Applebee’s in Clovis.

Dehem and Apple Grove Restaurants views today as an opportunity to educate its associates.

“They are certainly more than welcome to come in,” she said of Zamora’s group.

“We absolutely do not ban nursing in the restaurants. We just ask that moms who choose to do that do so in a respectful manner,” she said.

If a situation arises where a customer is offended by a breastfeeding mother, Dehem said restaurant associates will be happy to find new seats for one or both parties to make everyone comfortable.

“We want to do our best to make sure that mothers are welcome to nurse in the restaurants,” she said.

Connie Brumbelow, general manager at K-Bob’s Steakhouse in Clovis, said her restaurant supports a mother’s right to breastfeed and would never ask a woman to cover or step outside a public area.

“Why would we? Baby’s gotta eat,” she said laughing.

Brumbelow said she sees no difference between bottle or breast in terms of public feeding.

“We look at it like the child’s got to eat too,” she said.

Zamora said her group, whose membership fluctuates, decided not to protest the local Applebee’s because she has nursed her child at the restaurant many times with no problems.

Though she supports breastfeeding in public and feels strongly about a woman’s right to nurse her child, she would rather take the opportunity to offer education about breastfeeding to Applebee’s staff and the public, she said.

“I don’t really want to stand outside at noon on Saturday with my baby on my hip,” she said.

“(Education), that’s so much more my style than being out on the sidewalk with our kids waving banners.”

Zamora, 36, said she is breastfeeding her 12-month-old son as she did her older two children. She believes the public needs to support a mother’s right to nurse her child.

“When a baby needs to nurse they need to nurse. I think its discrimination to ask a mom to nurse in the car or the bathroom,” she said.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report

• Brooke Ryan launched a campaign, organizing a “Nurse Out” today with posters and breast-feeding outside the Applebee’s in Lexington, Ky. where she was confronted.
After her attorney wrote letters to Applebee’s demanding an apology, Ryan said the company’s attorney responded by saying a measure was being considered to keep blankets on hand in restaurants so mothers can cover themselves.
Ryan is arguing it is a woman’s right to decide if she will cover her child while nursing and has demanded a formal apology from Applebee’s.
Company spokespersons said they support a mother’s right to breastfeed but ask it be done modestly.
Source: The Associated Press

New Mexico law:
• N.M. Stat. Ann. § 28-20-1 (1999) permits a mother to breastfeed her child in any public or private location where she is otherwise authorized to be. (SB 545)
• N.M. Chapter No. 2007-18 (2007) Requires employers to provide a clean, private place (not a bathroom) for employees who are breastfeeding to pump. Also requires that the employee be given breaks to express milk, but does not require that she be paid for this time. (HB 613)

Federal legislation:
• The Breastfeeding Promotion Act, HR 2122, was reintroduced in the House of Representatives on May 10, 2007. The BPA amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect breastfeeding women from being fired or discriminated against in the workplace, provides tax incentives for businesses that establish private, lactation areas in the workplace, provides for a performance standard for breast pumps, and allows breastfeeding equipment to be tax deductible for families.