Do Nurse-Ins Work?

Nurse In Needs

This past week there were mass nurse-ins all over the country to protest a mother who had been harassed by Target in November. My first inclination was excitement, I’m all about the activist activity.  I quickly joined the private Facebook group and started plotting our local nurse-in.  I’d never been to a nurse in, particularly with my own nursling.

As I started inviting other breastfeeding moms, just knowing they’d be jumping at a chance to join a nurse-in and support other moms.  Most everyone said yes, but I had a few that declined.  Of those that declined most were busy or didn’t have a nursling and didn’t feel that they could go because of that reason.  I had one mom who said that she didn’t believe in nurse-ins, despite her avid support for breastfeeding.  For the first time I thought about what it was that we were doing and what would it accomplish.  I didn’t pause for long, because in my heart I knew it was the right thing to do.

The morning of the nurse-in, I logged in to tell all the people who were attending where I’d be.  I packed up.  I brought:

  • Breastfeeding law cards for our state and nation
  • Breastfeeding brochures in English and Spanish
  • My iPad for tweeting during the nurse-in
  • Talking points
  • My camera
  • My nursling

I ensured I was wearing clothing were I could nurse my older nursling discreetly because it’s how I nurse, not with a cover, just not hanging out.  I also chose my public health shirt to throw in the message that breastfeeding is a part of a larger conversation about the health of a nation and a world community.

I left the house with no idea what to expect.  Would someone talk to us?  Notice us?  Ignore us?  What would the other moms be like?  Would any dads show up?

It was an amazing morning. We spent almost two hours in Target at the coffee shop. Moms, dads and babies, sitting around drinking coffee.  We met our babies’ needs by feeding them when they needed.  We talked about going back to work with a new baby, pumping, nursing around older siblings, nursing a baby with a disability, skin to skin after a cesarean birth and many more parenting topics.  In the end we decided that we weren’t sure Target even noticed us.  We had several customers stop us to say, “What an adorable baby!” or other such comments about our kids.

We also decided that we were being radical and showing exactly what the world needed to see, people being parenting, which included normal infant feeding – breastfeeding.

Do nurse-ins work?  We think so, but perhaps we’re more low key activists who simply have a differently radical agenda.

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3 Responses to Do Nurse-Ins Work?

  1. Deb says:

    I think your “nurse-in” would have been more effective if the women nursed in places other than the coffee shop. Middle of the toy aisle? Over by the TVs? Next to the diapers? Those would have been more effective places, IMHO. (And, yes, I breastfed my kids until they weaned themselves at 1 and 3+ years, respectively.)

    • Robin says:

      Hi Deb,

      Thanks for the comment. I don’t think we weren’t effective. Who is to say what effective is? Do we have to stopped and talked to about breastfeeding? If yes, we were successful. I personally am nursing a toddler who is too large for me to carry and nurse anymore – I had few choices of where I could actually nurse her. Nor could we have congregated together without being obstructive, which is not the point IMHO.

  2. Ashley says:

    Firstly, let me say that I support breastfeeding 100%. Anywhere. Anytime. No limits on age, whatever. Breastfeeding is not obscene and should be seen no different than any other normal every day activity. On the subject of nurse-ins: I get the point. I just think nurse-ins have been overused. Someone makes a comment to a mom in a store – nurse-in time! Someone gives someone the side-eye? Nurse-in time! This particular instance was probably one of the most warranted I’ve seen. I took part in a nurse-in at the Lexington, Kentucky Applebees before I even had kids because a situation occurred and it spun out of control, even at the corporate level. The problem is that because the nurse-in was the go-to lactavist method for a while, it’s lost it’s power.

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