A group of Sarasota mothers participated in a breast-feeding "nurse-in" at the Fruitville Road Target on Wednesday morning to show support after a mother in Houston was harassed by Target employees.
The women met at about 10 a.m. to feed until the kids were finished or the moms ran out of stuff to talk about, joked Cheryl Kindred of Sarasota, who was with her son Noah, 2, who is still breast-fed.
Since the Houston incident, nurse-ins are being staged all across the country at Targets today.
Target’s policy has always been to allow mothers to breast-feed their children in the stores, said Fruitville Target Store Team Leader Andrea Leo.
“We’re happy to allow breast-feeding in any area of our stores,” Leo said. Leo said she could not speak to the incident in Texas.
The group of about 12 women were all smiles at the Target Café while they took a seat to take a stand to show that breast-feeding is natural and should be accepted in public. The group said they were treated well at Target on Wednesday morning and staff asked if they could get them anything, one mother said.
Each mother had her own reasons for coming out Wednesday morning.
“If we weren’t supposed to breast-feed, we wouldn’t produce milk at all,” Sarasota native Brittany Alessio said.
Alessio, who now lives in North Carolina, came out because she is a firm believer in breast-feeding and hopes that some hospitals would encourage it more instead of provide formula after birth.
stopped providing formula to new mothers in the summer, said Mary O'Connor, manager of child birth education and lactation services. O'Connor, who is a certified specialist in breast-feeding, said the hospital is "very pro- breast-feeding" as 98 percent of the staff in the mother-baby unit is certified in breast-feeding management.
"The hospital also offers free in-home lactation visits for all children born at Sarasota Memorial," O'Connor said. Care is also available from counselors at the hospital, she added, for mothers to learn how to breast-feed or via phone at 917-7413.
Also, in case a woman is confronted about feeding in public, the hospital provides cards with Florida state law written on it that states mothers are permitted to feed in public and private places, O'Connor said.
The hospital also has a blog on new parenting issues and advice called Baby Steps.
It took a while for Alessio to publicly breast-feed her son Bryceen, now 7 months old, she said.
“It took several, several nursing mothers to help me get comfortable with breast-feeding in public,” she said.
The encouragement by her mother and husband helped her get over that psychological barrier, she said, and she believes more women would breast-feed in public if they had that support system.
Marina Rambo of Parrish said the movement is organic and local mothers agreed on the Fruitville Target via a Facebook event because of its central location.
For Rambo, the nurse-in is about how breasts are treated in American culture.
“In our society, it’s OK to flaunt breasts as sexual organs but not for their intended use — feeding your child,” Rambo said as she held her son Reece, 7 months old.
It shouldn’t be shocking to see a woman breast-feed in public, she added.
This article has been corrected to reflect that Noah, 2, still breast-feeds.