LAVALE — In 2003, Maryland passed a law that allows mothers to breastfeed in any public place they have a right to be.
Local La Leche League members and LaVale’s Ruby Tuesday banded together last night to support that law, and mothers everywhere, by holding a “nurse-in.”
“I can’t even begin to express my gratitude to Ruby Tuesday over the way that they handled this event,” said one of the event organizers, Dominique Taylor.
The event stemmed from an incident that took place at Ruby Tuesday a few weeks ago.
Todd Saltzman, the area director for Ruby Tuesday, said that a young woman was breastfeeding her child when an elderly couple near her began to complain and make disparaging comments to her.
They proceeded to complain to the waitstaff, who, instead of following Ruby Tuesday policy and relocating the couple, instead responded to the breastfeeding woman.
Taylor said that the manager suggested the young woman had finished eating when she had only partially completed her meal.
“(She) went home and cried her eyes out because she was publicly embarrassed,” said Taylor.
In light of the incident, Saltzman and the La Leche League decided to put a positive spin on things, and used the event to bring awareness for the rights of mothers.
Saltzman said that at the beginning of each employees’ training, they are taught Ruby Tuesday’s pro-breastfeeding stance and that they are taking this opportunity to retrain the entire region on the issue.
“I take it as an opportunity that I’m going to rehash (the policy),” said Saltzman.
Taylor said that approximately 40 mothers had responded that they were coming to the event, which was scheduled from the dinner hours of 5 until 8 p.m., so as not to strain the wait staff and kitchen.
La Leche League members, including fathers, grandparents and babies, showed up to support breastfeeding mothers, wearing matching T-shirts.
Area mother Megan Boyce, who attended with her daughters Makenna and Molly, all from Rawlings, said that this type of event helps those mothers who might feel uncomfortable with breastfeeding in public.
With her first daughter, Boyce said that she never breastfed in public, and was concerned with what others thought.
As a result, the experience was always stressful and finding the appropriate time and place was often quite difficult.
“This brought so much stress. I ended up giving up before I should have,” said Boyce.
However, with her second daughter, she was able to take a much more proactive stance through the support of other moms in the community.
“It's not as stressful or inconvenient. We need to start supporting breastfeeding in public because mom’s need to live their lives,” said Boyce.
Boyce said that regardless of whether a baby is breastfed or bottle-fed, mothers should always be supportive of each other, and that breastfeeding moms deserve equal treatment as those who bottle feed.
“A happy mom is a happy baby,” said Boyce.
Taylor, who attended with her husband Aaron and daughter Stella, said that Saltzman also publicly apologized for their employee’s misstep.
“It’s a great opportunity for both groups,” said Taylor, of the nurse-in, which her husband Aaron nicknamed, “Booby Tuesday.”
Emily Newman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.