Worst Walmart Nursing Harassment Incident Ever! Attend Jacksonville Nurse-in TODAY 2:00 pm

When a Walmart employee forces a covered, nursing mother to move from the bathroom to a toilet stall, we know America has hit a new low in nursing harassment.

jacksonvillewalmartExactly that happened on Friday July 25th in Jacksonville, North Carolina when Kelly Messing noticed her infant was hungry. Since she was not comfortable with nursing in public she chose to nurse in the ladies’ restroom, while wearing a cover. During this time, she was approached by a Walmart employee and asked to move to a toilet stall as she was “making other customers uncomfortable” (ReadPaa.la’s report for more details).

What happened to Kelly speaks to us at Best for Babes because fear of nursing in public, and harassment for nursing in public, are big time Breastfeeding Booby Traps®! This is precisely why Best for Babes appointed Michelle Hickman (a.k.a. Target mom) as our Director of Activism and developed our nursing in public hotline.  (Read Michelle’s story:  Target Employees Bully Breastfeeding Mom Despite Corporate Policy.)  We cannot fault the employee, who was clearly not properly trained, for simply responding to complaints. That employee, unfortunately, was unaware of the North Carolina state law and because of inadequate training, did not realize how this action shamed the mom.  The fault lies with the national Walmart corporation, that has repeatedly failed to adequately train their employees and put proper company-wide policies in place.  The other issue at hand is the fact that patrons in the store complained, a clear indication that we have a long way to go in changing the perception of breastfeeding.

Here are steps you can take to support mothers and babies:

1.  Please join the nurse-in at the Jacksonville Walmart on N. Marine Boulevard at 2:00 p.m. today (RSVP HERE). The plan is to meet, then break off in small groups, dispersed throughout the store, to nurse in groups. The hope is that this will subtly normalize breastfeeding for the public and give patrons an opportunity to observe that nursing in public is a normal and natural part of life, much like giving a child a kiss or a hug in public.   As a bonus, the participants will receive Breastfeeding in Public cards with info on the North Carolina Breastfeeding Coalition, copies of the State Law, and our very own NIP Harassment Hotline on it!

2. Continue to pressure the local Jacksonville Walmart via Facebook comments and poor reviews.  Unfortunately as far as we can tell there is no way to public way rate or publicly comment to the national Walmart corporation, they have been deleting comments (have better info?  leave it in the comments!).  You can also write or call corporate headquarters and tweet at Walmart; See Paa.la’s post for their corporate contact information and more details.  We are happy that the local Jacksonville Walmart promises to train their employees, but one training won’t prevent this from happening again.  We need the local Jacksonville Walmart to put pressure on the national corporation to institute a strong and effective company-wide policy and training program.

donate5hotline3.  Support the Nursing in Public Hotline by purchasing the cards or by donating $5 to Keep it Alive!  Your support will enable us to educate more people about breastfeeding laws but even more importantly, enable us to leverage our partnerships to hold companies like Walmart, Target and Delta accountable, as well as implementing new and more effective strategies to change the public perception of breastfeeding. In the past, Best for Babes has repeatedly tried to gently and positively persuade executive management at Walmart that it is good for business to support nursing customers and employees. Although local managers have spoken with the nurse-in organizers and are planning continued training, the fact that incidences at Walmart have been happening for YEARS prove that there is no company-wide commitment to training.  We feel that public relations statements and reassurances by companies like Walmart, Target, Delta and others are clearly lip service and will be looking at developing a new strategy to effect change. Stay tuned and join us for updates!

In the meantime, let’s hope that this new style of  nurse-in will effect some change in policy writing as well as in the hearts of the general public visiting.

Update:  We’re loving some of the comments on the Facebook post.   Check them out here.


6 thoughts on “Worst Walmart Nursing Harassment Incident Ever! Attend Jacksonville Nurse-in TODAY 2:00 pm

  1. Someone please tell me what is wrong with what happened. I am a female and Im not comfortable seeing a women breastfeed even with a cover. Kelly was. smiple asked to move completely out of sight not told to stop. She was also told that people where uncomfortable and complained. I have the right to not see you breastfeed just as you have the right to breastfeed. We need a compromise. How about public places have a private room for breastfeeding moms only and if they don’t have one bring your baby a bottle. Bottle feeding a baby breastmilk is the same as breastfeeding. They get a better bonding experience because they can see you and talk to them and dad or siblings can feed them. Lets all stop and think about each other for once.


    1. Unfortunately, bottle feeding is not the same as putting a baby to breast, there is a completely different mechanism to removing the milk and it even affects baby’s jaw and tooth development. The bonding experience can be the same, a breastfed infant can also look at mom and be talked to. Studies have shown that being held skin to skin is calming for both mother and baby along with a myriad of other benefits. The problem is lack of education. A mother has a right to breastfeed, and no one is forced to look.


      1. I’d like to add, your idea of a room for breastfeeding mothers is fantastic. Another idea, which I have used, is to ask for a fitting room instead of heading to the bathroom, more private, much cleaner and more comfortable!


    2. Amber Humes, what bothers you about breast feeding in public? Also, did you breast feed your child? I can understand if the whole breast is exposed, but when a woman is covered what is the problem? I find it odd people are so excepting of a woman who a thong to the pool but not of a mother nursing?? Especially woman with woman???


  2. This makes me so sad that people are so misguided when it comes to nursing our children!! This is the healthiest thing for them and people act like we (nursing moms) are smoking in public. As a matter of fact from what I have read I think people accept smoking better than nursing in public! AND I am a smoker – I nursed my baby for 18 months (yes I know I should have never started smoking again),but really- I always covered myself and people are more uncomfortable when I nursed in public with a cover than when I smoke a cigarette- what is WRONG with this nation!


  3. I’m a proud nursing mom in New Mexico, and this story is disgusting. However, I’ve never felt that “Nurse-In’s” were the way to go. Using something as natural and beautiful as breastfeeding as a form of protest? Surely the baby picks up on the feelings of defiance and hostility. If you act like you’re doing something wrong/rebellious by breastfeeding, that baby might start to feel like nursing is wrong. Let’s keep it a safe/comforting act of love and nourishment.
    I will happily leave some comments on that WalMart’s website, but I really wish women would stop using nursing as a protest tool. I think it brings more ridicule than respect. I also wish I’d been in that bathroom when this happened – sounds like this Momma needed someone feisty backing her up. Best of luck with the crusade. Keep fighting the good fight – just be smart about it.


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