Take Action: Customizable Form Letter to Send When Your Breastfeeding Rights Have Been Violated

July 8th, 2010 by Dionna | 7 Comments
Posted in Breastfeeding/Lactivism, Carnival of Nursing in Public, Feed with Love and Respect

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NursingFreedom.org now offers a sample form letter that you may personalize and send when your breastfeeding rights have been violated. Following is a personalized example of that form letter, so you can see what the final version can look like.

Dionna Ford
(Address)

July 7, 2010

Thomas B. Drage, Jr.
Orange County Attorney
425 North Orange Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801-1515

Dear Mr. Drage:

I respectfully write this letter on behalf of Ms. Shawna Mitchell and Ms. Celena Chavez to express my concern over an incident that occurred at Kelly (Rock Springs) Park in Apopka, Florida on June 22, 2010. On that date, Ms. Mitchell’s and Ms. Chavez’s statutory right to breastfeed under Florida law (Fla. Stat. § 383.015(1) (1993)) was infringed on by a lifeguard (Davey Dickerson).

Ms. Mitchell and Ms. Chavez were enjoying a day at the park with their babies. At some point each woman was nursing her child in the spring when Mr. Dickerson blew his whistle and loudly told them “you guys cannot breastfeed here, you need to stop.” The women assured Mr. Dickerson that they were allowed to nurse their babies there under state law. Mr. Dickerson told the women that they were “in violation of the law” because they were “publicly exposing themselves.” He further told them that they needed to stop or cover up. Ms. Mitchell offered to go get a card that she carries that has the Florida law, and Mr. Dickerson said he would get his supervisor.

The supervisor never came, so Ms. Mitchell and Ms. Chavez went to the main building to talk to the supervisor before they left. The supervisor said that she was not aware of a state law protecting breastfeeding, and she asked to copy Ms. Mitchell’s card. The supervisor said “You know that most of the patrons of the park are under 20, right? They were all staring at you.”

Ms. Mitchell attempted to follow up on the incident. She called the park phone number (407-889-4179) several times and left one message. No one returned her call until July 6, 2010. On July 6, I left a message on behalf of Ms. Mitchell to let park management know that Ms. Mitchell had contacted the media and was planning a peaceful “nurse-in.” A park employee contacted Ms. Mitchell to ask about media coverage and informed her that the lifeguards had received some training on breastfeeding.

Breastmilk and breastfeeding are the standard for infant nutrition.

There are numerous and well-documented benefits for both infants and mothers who breastfeed, as well as risks to those who do not breastfeed. Breastmilk contains growth factors, hormones, enzymes, and other substances that are immune-protective and foster proper growth and nutrition.[1] Breastfeeding is associated with a reduction of the risk for children of contracting pneumonia, staphylococcal infections, influenza, ear infections, severe infections of the lower respiratory tract, asthma, obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, childhood leukemia, certain types of cancer, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).[2]

Encouraging breastfeeding is an integral part of many governmental health and wellness initiatives, including programs created by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, among others.[3] And breastfeeding is not just for infants. The American Academy of Family Physicians 2008 Position Paper on breastfeeding states that “breastfeeding at least until the second year of a child’s life is not considered ‘extended’ breastfeeding. Rather, breastfeeding until the bare minimum age of 2 years is the norm and anything less brings about detrimental consequences.”[4]

The law protects a child’s right to breastfeed in Florida.

Regardless of the many benefits of breastfeeding and its promotion by medical and governmental organizations, Florida law protects a child’s right to nurse. Florida enacted Fla. Stat. § 383.015(1) (1993), which reads:

A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.[5]

Breastmilk and breastfeeding are the standard for infant nutrition. No mother should ever be made to feel ashamed or embarrassed for giving her child nourishment and comfort at her breast. Another mother might not know her rights. She might comply with unlawful requests to cover up or leave. She might decide to pump or reduce her child’s number of breastfeeding sessions (both of which may reduce her milk supply and harm the breastfeeding relationship). She might even decide to wean her child prematurely.

Please work with me to normalize breastfeeding in our society. I am writing to ask you to take positive steps to help breastfeeding mothers. First, please educate your employees about the rights of breastfeeding pairs. If you need help finding materials or someone to lead an informational session, I will gladly help you find a qualified attorney, Lactation Counselor, or La Leche League leader. Second, you can also display signs that identify your facility as “breastfeeding friendly.” Third, you may wish to issue a formal apology for the actions of your employee.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to your response, and to encountering more compassionate, educated employees at Kelly (Rock Springs) Park.

Sincerely,

Dionna Ford

[1] Hamosh, Margit, PhD, Breastfeeding: Unraveling the Mysteries of Mother’s Milk, http://www.asklenore.info/breastfeeding/additional_reading/mysteries.html

[2] Ip S, et al., Breastfeeding and maternal and infant health outcomes in developed countries, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17764214; see also Burby, Leslie, 101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child (and citations therein), http://www.promom.org/101/

[3] See http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/ ; http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/policy/hp2010.htm ; http://www.letsmove.gov/tfco_fullreport_may2010.pdf

[4] http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/policy/policies/b/breastfeedingpositionpaper.html; The AAFP’s position is almost identical to that of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/infantfeeding/9241562218/en/index.html.

For similar positions from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other medical organizations, see http://www.aap.org/breastfeeding/faqsBreastfeeding.html#10; see also http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/bfm.2008.9988?journalCode=bfm.

[5] You can read more on Florida breastfeeding legislation at http://www.flbreastfeeding.org/legislation.htm

7 Responses to:
"Take Action: Customizable Form Letter to Send When Your Breastfeeding Rights Have Been Violated"

  1. Bettina at Best for Babes   bestforbabes

    Bravo! You are doing a great job on empowering moms to nurse in public. We’ll help spread the word!

  2. Dionna, you continue to amaze me. Your hard work as an advocate for breastfeeding should be greatly recognized and appreciated by women everywhere. This letter in particular is a perfect example of how breastfeeding is a feminist cause, too.
    I am so proud that I can be considered your friend! I only wish I had half the knowledge of breastfeeding, and half the talents and passion to fight for the cause.

  3. Maman A Droit   MamanADroit

    I think it’s awesome that you put this out there-so many people don’t know how to respectfully stand up for their rights even when they want to, so it’s great that now nursing moms will have another tool to help them do so!

  4. Amber   AmberStrocel

    Go, Dionna! Thanks so much for sharing this.

  5. Melodie   bfmom

    Good job Dionna. I knew you would do this – I just didn’t expect you to be so quick! Are you sleeping much this past week? :) Brava for being the first blogger (that I could find) to put this out there for mamas everywhere.

  6. Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

    That is gorgeous! Textbook letter to have at hand for situations like these. Thank you so much for crafting it.

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