CityWatch, July 24, 2012
Vol 10 Issue 59
RETHINKING LA - My wife Enci and I have marched in the streets, we’ve
turned out with signs and picketed, we've Stormed the Bastille, ridden
Critical Mass, and filibustered public meetings from the public
speaker’s podium. We’ve gone to Sacramento, we’ve spoken Truth to Power,
and along the way we’ve sat-in, stood-up and even laid-down in a
But this weekend was a first for us. We joined dozens of
nursing moms and their families at a local restaurant for a Nurse-In,
all in response to a recent incident when a nursing mom was asked to
feed her child in the bathroom.
The original incident and the resulting Nurse-In both took place at
Scarantino’s, a small family-owned and operated restaurant with a 45
year legacy that includes this mission statement; “We want our service
to be such that every customer feels as welcomed guests in our home.”
woman joined her family for a celebratory dinner and began nursing her
child at the table. Another guest complained and an employee of the
restaurant asked the nursing mom to leave the dining room for the more
Personally, I’ve never asked a guest in my
home to eat in the bathroom and I can’t imagine how a nursing mom would
consider herself a welcomed guest when banished from the dining room.
But of course, my opinion is simply my opinion.
importantly, it’s the law and nursing moms have California Civil Code,
Section 43.3, on their side. "Notwithstanding any other provision of
law, a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or
private, except the private home or residence of another, where the
mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present."
takes two kinds of ignorance to ban a nursing mom from a public place.
The first is simple ignorance of the law. The second is a far deeper
form of ignorance, one that stigmatizes a natural and healthy practice
that has been around a lot longer than the hang-ups that might motivate
someone to complain when they see a mother nurse a child.
moms have been in the news a great deal of late, typically involved in
incidents where an employee or security guard seizes that rare moment of
power where they get to say “No! Put that Boob away!”
was the subject of Nurse-Ins over the weekend, all in response to a mom
who dared to nurse her child at the table with the rest of the family.
LACMA recently incurred the wrath of LA’s increasingly larger community
of nursing moms when a security guard asked a nursing mom to get a
shroud or leave the public place.
Time magazine took on the
subject and took the provocative route less traveled when it posted a
nursing mom on the cover along with her three-year old son.
decision to nurse a child is a huge commitment that includes positioning
a growing child’s nutritional needs as the driving force that
determines schedules and nursing activity.
experience a formula-centric environment that views the lactating breast
as an affront to all that is perfect about our upside-down prioritized
When Enci and I made our first visit to the
Pediatrician, we were given a lovely gift bag that turned out to be
filled with formula and formula accessories. Liquid formula, powdered
formula, small bottles, flat bottles, large bottles, bottle warmers,
bottle coolers, bottle insulators, and it all matched.
from this generous bag of support was a list of foods that encourage a
lactating mom and a list of foods that interfere with lactation.
wasn’t until we did our own research that we discovered that Enci
should be eating more oats, ginger, avocado, dates, and coconut milk. We
navigated the course on our own as we uncovered all of the
“anti-plactagogues” that are common in our diet, including parsley,
peppermint, spearmint, and sage.
Imagine that! So many foods that interfere with lactation and not a word from our corporate sponsored Pediatrician.
As for Scarantino’s, the Nurse-In took place on the sidewalk and in the restaurant.
sidewalk was covered with playmats and families made themselves at home
with children, toys, and nursing moms and happy babies. On such a busy
street, the sidewalk took on a festive mood not typical of protest
actions. There were protest signs and the mom who suffered the original
insult was there, refusing to spend another dime at Scarantino’s until
she received an apology.
Inside the busy restaurant, the tables were full, and nursing moms were the dominant force in the noisy dining room.
elderly guests who arrived in the middle of the Nurse-In sat down next
to us with a grumble, advising the manager that perhaps it was time to
call the police on those who blocked the sidewalk. They quickly dropped
the subject when it came time to order and proceeded to grill the waiter
on the ingredients of dishes, explaining that they all had very
specific dietary restrictions.
I couldn’t help but wonder how
long it will be before waiters are as sensitive to the diet of lactating
moms as they are to the dietary restrictions of seniors, but that is
for another day.
Baby Sydney charmed our geriatric neighbors and
we enjoyed a very delightful and delicious dinner, complemented by
excellent service, and not an eyebrow was raised as nursing children
throughout the dining room enjoyed their meals along with their families
and strangers alike.
To quote a mom, “It was a delicious protest!”
It was also much more. It was successful.
manager involved in the initial incident admitted that he didn’t know
the law and acknowledged that he broke the law. He added that he didn’t
want litigation. He stepped outside and approached the mom who was
originally asked to use the bathroom when nursing her child and he
apologized, getting a hug in return and earning a great deal of respect
from those who watched him swallow his pride and treat the moms as if
they were welcomed guests in his home.
Enci enjoyed the community
of nursing moms and found the protest to be an uplifting and positive
experience. Sydney made some new friends and left his first protest
happy and well-fed. As for me, I was thrilled to participate in civil
disobedience that revolved around a dining table, one that was loaded
with such a delicious Italian meal.