Cumberland Times-News

November 27, 2013

It’s best for your child, and you should do it

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

— Let’s get to the point. So what is the deal, Moms? One of the three most common reasons a mom does not want to breast feed her child is because of the fear of nursing in public.

From my research, Allegany County is breast-feeding in public-friendly. So why are the numbers of nursing moms so low in Allegany County?

I am a wife, mother, dedicated voter and a student at Allegany College of Maryland. I was given a great assignment to bring awareness to one social problem.

I chose breast-feeding in public. In my research I have found that there is more than one issue associated with breast-feeding in Allegany County, but I am going to focus on the stigma of breast feeding in public.

I am a second time breast-feeder. There was a time I struggled with the concept of nursing in public. Why? Because of the fear of upsetting someone if they saw my child nursing.

You have no problem with Victoria Secret models, right? Same amount of cleavage shown. So ... the problem?

My objective with this assignment was to bring awareness to the breast feeding laws in Maryland. Maryland laws states that a mother may breast-feed her child in any public or private location in which the mother and child are authorized to be.

A person may not restrict or limit the right of a mother to breast-feed her child.

There were very few establishments that even knew the law even existed. Because of my schedule I only had time to visit or contact 30 establishments.

My first question to the manager or owner of the establishment was whether they were breast-feeding friendly. After the stuttering subsided, I would then explain the law protecting nursing mothers in public.

I also gave them a two-page summary about why I was there along with what they can do help my cause. No change in history was ever made by force.

You must educate those around you if you hope to see change. I asked these establishments to educate themselves and also their employees about the laws to show support to my cause. I was surprised by the amount of people who did not know it was not illegal to breast-feed in public. There was plenty of support towards breast-feeding in their stores.

I nursed twice while visiting different establishments. Denny’s Restaurant in LaVale was very well aware of the law protecting nursing mothers. The manager, Linda Hartman, commended me for nursing and encourages nursing moms to breast-feed.

I was also pleased with the staff and manager Brandon Combs at Pizza Hut in Cumberland that was well aware of the laws and was super supportive.

This kind of service is what keeps moms like me coming back! I did not have one establishment tell me no when I asked them if they were nursing friendly.

There was one restaurant located in western Allegany County — which I will not mention — said that they were not against breastfeeding, but only wished for the mom to cover up while nursing.

If you’re reading this and you’re disgusted with breast-feeding in public, shame on you. If you have a problem with it, then cover your head and educate yourself. Nursing a child who prefers not to be covered up is extremely hard to do.

So there you go, Moms! In the end, it is your preference to whether you choose to breast-feed. Just don’t let your fear of nursing in public steer you away from a huge (and the best) opportunity for your child.

Krystyna Avers