After speaking with Boise, Idaho mom, Amy Miller, about the difficulty in attempting to pass statewide breastfeeding laws to protect mothers and children from discrimination while nursing in public, it is now time that we go full swing in giving this national attention. Enough is enough! Idaho mothers will stage a 3rd nurse-in at the state capitol on Friday, June 26th, to attempt to draw national attention to their cause.
You can help the entire state of Idaho by sharing their press release on your local media outlets signing the petition! You can also show support in the comments, or by watching the Normalize Breastfeeding LIVE podcast next Friday morning – in the video embed below – so book mark this page, set your reminder, and HT #IDfreetoNIP #NormalizeBfing!
Here is Amy’s story, below, about their journey in Idaho to change the current law:
Despite the lack of legislation, Idaho consistently ranks in the top ten for breastfeeding rates. According to the CDC Breastfeeding Report Card for 2014, 84.4% of Idaho mothers breastfed ever. At six months 56.8% of mothers were still breastfeeding, and another 30.5% continued onto 12 months. An additional 40.2% mothers exclusively breastfed at three months, and 28.4% at six months. Yet despite these numbers, countless mothers across the state face discrimination for feeding their children in public. Sarah Baker of Boise was visiting St. Alphonsus Behavior Health Unit for her older child. While in the waiting room, her 8 month old became hungry and she proceeded to nurse him. An employee came through the doors and informed her she needed to cover and when she refused she was threatened that police would be called. After offering to go outside and sit in the grass instead, the employee still was not pleased and called police. When the officer arrived they informed her she could be cited for indecent exposure. The hospital declined to press charges at that time, but threatened to charge her with trespassing if she came back and this happened again.
-More stories in the Press Release
When my second son was born two and a half years ago, I was adamant about wanting to breastfeed. I took classes at our hospital, spoke extensively with friends about their experiences and began my research online. During my entire pregnancy I must have read every article there was. What started out as a curiosity of looking up good tips and suggestions, soon turned into a passion. My son was born in September of 2012 and took to breastfeeding like a pro. Besides some minor setbacks here and there, we had a beautiful and easy start. In those first few months I joined every breastfeeding support page I could find, and in doing so I learned that (at that time) Idaho was one of three states in the nation with no laws to protect a mother’s right to breastfeed in public. Being a first time nursing mother already, coupled with the fear of discrimination in my own state, I’m saddened to say I nursed my son in many bathroom stalls. Restaurant bathrooms, mall bathrooms, etc. It wasn’t until my son was nearly one year old and we were at a festival downtown that had thousands of people watching a hot air balloon launch, that I faced my fear. It was either walk a quarter mile and stand in a long line to feed my precious boy in a porta potty, or sit in the grass in front of all those people and breastfeed. I am proud to say I chose the latter. From that point on, I knew I would never nurse in shame again.
As I entered into the unknown territory of breastfeeding a toddler, I was surprisingly met with overwhelming support from my family. My 87 year old grandmother commended me for nursing my 1.5 year old at the time, and told me that she self-weaned all four of her children. I also asked my mother about her experiences with breastfeeding. She said it was the most amazing feeling being able to nourish your child with your own body. She also self-weaned all three of her kids, and said I broke her heart when I “cut her off” at 9 months old. When I came across a photo of her breastfeeding me in public in 1986, I was so overcome with emotion and so proud to come from such strong women. I carried on the third-generation legacy of extended nursing. I am proud to say we are still going strong at 32 months.
I began with the idea of just getting photographs of myself breastfeeding on the state capitol building, to help bring awareness to Idaho’s lack of protection, but quickly decided it would be even better to make more moms a part of it. I started the Facebook page “Idaho Moms For N I P” and we held our first nurse-in at the Capitol in November of 2014. With only a couple weeks of planning, and extremely cold weather, we had a smaller turnout than expected, but still amazing nonetheless. I immediately began planning the next for the following spring. By March of 2015, South Dakota and Virginia had passed laws, leaving Idaho as the one remaining state. It was apparent then that we needed this more than ever. I was helped by another amazing nursing mother and advocate, Jessie Blevins, and with her support we worked around the clock reaching out to everyone we could. It wasn’t only to notify people of the event, but also to educate. Many mothers were unaware of breastfeeding laws and Idaho’s lack thereof. On March 29th, 2015 we held our second nurse-in and had a HUGE turnout. People from all over the state traveled to be a part of it, some driving hours and staying at hotels just to attend. Fathers, grandparents, non-nursing parents, etc all came out to support nursing mothers. Five local news stations and newspapers covered the event, as well as multiple national organizations. We had the most incredible photographer, Sabrina Lilley with SLDesignsBoise, volunteer her services and she came out and shot nearly 200 pictures. We are doing our best to spread the word that Idaho is now the ONLY state left with no laws for breastfeeding mothers. Kori Penkert with the Idaho Breastfeeding Law Coalition is tirelessly working behind the scenes to hopefully get a bill introduced. In the meantime, the best thing we can do is bring awareness to the cause and do our part in normalizing breastfeeding.
“We are currently hoping to have our bill introduced during next year’s legislative session. We are working hard to find additional support of a law that doesn’t include language specific to covering. During this year’s session, our current sponsor found that it was hard to find support of a bill that didn’t require a cover. We are gathering photos of modest breastfeeding with or without a cover and started the hash tag #uncoveridaho. We encourage everyone to send letters to their local representatives asking them to support the Idaho Breastfeeding Law Coalition. They can feel free to get in touch with me as well.” -Kori Penkert with The Idaho Breastfeeding Law Coalition
In the summer of 2011 my oldest son was a patient at St. Alphonsus Behavior Health Unit in Boise, Idaho. His father and I went to vist him with our youngest son who was about 8 months at the time. My son decided he was hungry, so I began feeding him out in the waiting room. There was no one there at the time besides my family and the receptionist (who politely smiled at me), but within a few minutes, a lady appeared through the doors holding a towel, walked up to me and told me that I had to cover up, and when I refused she said that she was calling the police. I said “Well I will go outside and sit in the grass in the shade” She then went to tell me that wasn’t possible either, so I waited until the police arrived and was told by the officer I was in vilotion of the law for indecent exposure. The hospital didn’t press charges, but they told me if I came back I would be charged with trespassing. Remind you my oldest son was a patient there, so that meant I couldn’t see him either. -Sarah Baker