Lauren Benyo is a local mom of one son, Joseph, 8 months old, who is exclusively breastfed on-demand. When she heard about Brittany Warfield, a mom in Texas who said she was harassed when she breastfed her son in front of a Hollister store in Houston’s Galleria, she wanted to join in solidarity with other mothers in a nationwide “Nurse-in” at Hollisters across the country. And that’s what she did last Saturday at Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, NJ.
“This movement wasn’t about breastfeeding v. formula feeding, though,” Benyo explains. “It was about normalizing nursing. It was about our right as mothers to feed our babies when they are hungry, even if that means we are in a public place. Brittany Warfield wasn’t causing a scene when the Hollister manager asked her to leave, she was just feeding her baby.” Benyo says the nurse-in was important to her because she wants all women who choose to breastfeed to feel confident that they can nurse anywhere. ”I wanted them to see that there are women all across the country who do just that.”
He was very polite on the phone and said he would let the other associates know. When I arrived on Saturday, I introduced myself to the store manager and again explained why I was there. I also gave her a copy of the NJ state law about breastfeeding in public. There were security guards on hand and I wish I asked if they were there to make sure we didn’t get too rowdy or to protect us from getting harassed. I wish I asked! No one asked us to move but then again, our intentions were a peaceful nurse-in so we made sure not to block any walkways or interfere with anyone’s shopping experience. All in all, it was uneventful which was exactly our goal: that a mom can breastfeed her child in the middle of the mall and have no one think twice about it. Unfortunately, other moms were not as lucky during this nationwide nurse-in. At the Concord Mall in Delaware, mall security called the police on the nursing moms and the story escalated from there.
The group of moms participating in the nurse-in grew as the hour went on. According to Benyo, they ended up with a total of six moms, seven children and three dads—all from different towns.