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Sarasota Moms Stage Breast-Feeding in Target

A group of Sarasota moms performed a nurse-in at Target as part of a national movement to show support for public breast-feeding.

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.

steve December 28, 2011 at 05:57 PM
seriously? to punish target, you went there and called the media there to talk about Target????? will you come to my business and bring the press?
sarah December 28, 2011 at 06:16 PM
yes seriously!! you may think that this is not a big deal but if you were a nursing mother you would understand and appreciate the fact that it takes a lot of support not just from friends and family, but from the community as well. Too many people are under the impression that breasts are just an "icon" instead of what they original made for, to provide the best nutrition possible for our children!!
steve December 28, 2011 at 06:28 PM
I was not saying it isnt important. But I am guessing it was done as a protest to Target stores.And to me they just gave target free advertising.
DVD December 28, 2011 at 07:25 PM
I'm just sorry I couldn't be there to support them!
Declan J Stuyvesant December 28, 2011 at 07:58 PM
I'm sorry I couldn't be there to objectify the event and scope some jugs!!
mike December 28, 2011 at 08:11 PM
That sucks!
Tanya Taylor December 29, 2011 at 03:15 AM
not sure what happened to my comment, so I'll try again. We did not gather there to punish anybody. We are well aware that our local Target is awesome and none of the employees would never even think about harassing a nursing mother. Half of us even topped our nice get together with an equally nice shopping session :) However we met there to show solidarity with another mother, who WAS harassed in another Target just because her baby wanted to eat! We as a culture need to grow up and allow our babies to eat whenever and wherever they want and not discriminate against their food choices. The only way breastfeeding will become normal in our culture is if it is seen.
Cheryl Kindred December 29, 2011 at 03:20 AM
This is Cheryl Kindred. My son Noah is NOT out of the nursing stage, in fact he and I have a happy and healthy nursing relationship. The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends that for optimal health a child is breastfed for at least two years and beyond when possible. I expect to tandem nurse should Noah continue Breastfeeding in another few months when his sibling is born. Please be careful of making assumptions, and I would appreciate seeing this corrected. You may contact me via email at vividbirth (yahoo) if you have any questions.
Dan Liddy December 29, 2011 at 03:48 AM
It's nice to know that they actually FOUND employees in the sales floor. I can never find any help in their stores, and have stopped going there for that reason
Melisa December 29, 2011 at 07:17 AM
You would have been so disappointed by the lack of breasts to scope and objectify. You probably would see more breast by walking around the aisles looking and looking at the women wearing low cut tops while they shop.
Aaron December 29, 2011 at 07:45 AM
Well Steve, there is a bigger picture, if you're interested. 1) Since Target supported the breastfeeding moms, it deserves to get positive publicity. Not many businesses support breastfeeding, but now Target has committed themselves publicly to support breastfeeding. 2) On the other hand, if Target had _not_ supported the breastfeeding moms, the press would have been there to capture that for the record, and generated even more publicity for the breastfeeding moms. 3) The media coverage from the protests puts a spotlight on this topic of discrimination against breastfeeding moms. Target was just a good chance to get attention for the cause. If you would like to get the press to give you publicity for your business, you could consider doing something newsworthy.
Sarah McLaughlin December 29, 2011 at 12:49 PM
I totally wanted to come n support that mama! Breastfeeding needs to be seen! Even my spouse that is very pro breastfeeding freaks out when I start to feed uncovered! He starts like holding up a blanket tryin to cover me. When it is just drawing more attention n making it difficult for me to get baby latched! It's stressful to say the least! Who cares if someone sees some flesh or god forbid a nipple I'm tryin to keep my baby happy so she doesn't cry cause everyone complains about baby's cryin!
Charles Schelle (Editor) December 29, 2011 at 01:32 PM
I apologize Cheryl, I simply misheard when I asked -- it was a little noisy in there.

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