Stand Up (and Latch On!) for Breastfeeding Rights at the 'Great Nurse-In' This Summer

A national "nurse-in" is part of an effort to raise awareness about the fact that it's not illegal to nurse in public.

The nurse-in of all nurse-ins is set to take place this summer. Forget standing up for breastfeeding rights at Target, the local coffee shop or even the airport. Nursing-mama-of-two Rachel Papantonakis wants to see you at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for The Great Nurse-In, tentatively scheduled for August 4 at 4pm (permits pending) during World Breastfeeding Week 2012.

Papantonakis, 31, isn’t some angry nursing mama who took flak for feeding her baby, but she is deeply sympathetic to women who have had that experience. "For moms who have been or are worried about being told that they can't nurse in public, I encourage them to stay calm and be aware of their rights," says the Washington, D.C., mother. "I carry a business card printed by La Leche League that outlines public breastfeeding laws in D.C., Virginia, and Maryland so that if anyone suggests I shouldn't be feeding my child, I can just show them the card and not have to engage in a discussion or argument about it." (You can also find cards with state nursing law information at Nursing Freedom.)

Rather than waiting for yet another mama to suffer misinterpretation or outright ignorance of the laws protecting a woman's right to breastfeed, Papantonakis is calling for a nurse-in that is positive and pro-active. Papantonakis recently told the Washington Post: "The focus would be on awareness of public nursing laws rather than in response to a negative event...We've all been told that breastfeeding is the ideal way to feed a child, but still many people regard the breast as something purely sexual (and therefore indecent.)  No one would take a second look if I pulled out a bottle to feed my crying baby, and I’d love for breastfeeding to be just as commonplace."

Originally dubbed the Million-Boob March, the Great Nurse-In was renamed to avoid confusing it with the totally unrelated pro-nudity Two Millon Boobs March, which is scheduled to take place just a few weeks later in D.C. Nursing moms, bottlefeeding moms and all supporters of mothers are welcome to join the Great Nurse-In.

You can help spread the word and stay up to date on all the details on Twitter and Facebook. Papantonakis is also starting a Google Group for those who want to be more involved. Email her at greatnursein AT gmail DOT com to join.

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