December 29, 2011

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Breastfeeding mothers target Target store near Kingston

Kelly Burns: Breastfeeding "is just very natural"

TOWN OF ULSTER – Several dozen women took part in a national event, gathering inside their local Target store at the Hudson Valley Mall near Kingston. They came to advocate breast-feeding mothers as part of a nationwide awareness campaign organized through Facebook and Twitter.

Last month, Houston shopper Michelle Hickman claimed she was hassled for breastfeeding her son Noah at a Target outlet in Webster, Texas. The story went viral over the Internet, prompting over 4,000 unified supporters to respond across 35 states.

"She was minding her own business and trying to get her baby quiet," explained Donna Bruschi, a New Paltz lactation consultant who organized the Kingston rally. "They started barricading her in with shopping carts so nobody would see her."

Bruschi said she became a leader by default. As the county's only private lactation professional, she attracts no political fallout – which her colleagues might suffer working for public agencies. "If they did something like this, they might lose their jobs," Bruschi explained.

"This not just about mothers nursing their babies; this is about community," said Bruschi. "Mothers don't nurse their babies in isolation. They have husbands, they have mothers, they have relatives. All those people need to come together and support women to breastfeed their babies."

Kelly Burns agreed, cradling infant son Declan upon her lap. "People need to understand we're just feeding our babies. There's nothing wrong with it, just very natural."

Katie Weber said she has been breastfeeding her son Max since he was born.

"He needs to eat when he needs to eat," she said, adding that target is a nice place to nurse. "When I'm in the area, I plan to be around Target, because it's always been easy for me to do it here."

Bruschi had some advice for those who may not support breastfeeding in public places.

“Get over it – breasts are for feeding babies."

Early last year, the US Surgeon General issued a 100 page call to action, encouraging human milk over formula. "Without breastfeeding, there would be no human race," Bruschi said. "It's only since the advent of modern science, that they were able to break down foods so we could tolerate them, but we certainly don't thrive on them."

Throughout the morning, a nervous store manager eagerly tended to the group's comfort. "Target's handling it well," observed Bruschi. "I think it's good publicity. The store manager has been gracious. They've been really hospitable, knowledgeable and helpful."

"The biggest complaint I hear from men is that they're embarrassed," she said. "They don't know what to do. If they look at her, they wonder if she thinks they're a pervert, trying to pick her up,” Bruschi said.


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