Mom of 2 Katia Parella was shopping with her 5-month old son David Zion in a local WalMart earlier this week in Glenmont, New York, when her baby got hungry and needed to nurse. Katia found a seat inside NRG Home Solar, which rents space inside of WalMart and prepared to feed her baby. But then, she told her local news station WRGB 6 News, she was interrupted by a frantic employee.
“I proceeded to put my nursing cover on and to take my baby out of the stroller and that’s when the energy home, second associate, ran up to me and she started yelling at me saying, ‘No, no, no, no! You can’t do this here! You have to go over there! If my manager sees we will all be in trouble,'” Parella said.
Although Parella wasn’t comfortable doing so, she obliged and moved to a metal bench near the front of the store. While she was there, she did something AMAZING – she used her phone to look up New York State law on breastfeeding, New York Civil Rights Law 79-e (1994), which says, “a mother may breast feed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.”
Parella then did something even more amazing. She stood up for her and her baby’s RIGHTS and approached the store associate to show her the law. Incredibly, even after doing so she was told by ANOTHER Walmart associate that she could not breastfeed in the main store. Instead, she was told to go to a dressing room.
“I was shocked,” Parella said.
She filed a formal complaint with Walmart and received a phone call and an apology the next day—which is all well and good, but it’d be even BETTER if Walmart educated their employees about the laws that protect nursing babies and their moms. A hungry baby needs to be able to eat WHEN AND WHERE it is hungry! Not in a bathroom stall, not in a dressing room, not hidden away, but somewhere that both baby and mom can accomplish this important and natural act of nutrition.
I’d like to make an editor’s note that both times Katia attempted to nurse her baby in the store, she had on her NURSING COVER. Not that she should HAVE TO cover up, but if you have a problem with a nursing mom using a nursing cover in public, then you are just 1,000 kinds of WRONG. Quit shaming women for feeding their babies. I’ve seen a lot of NON-NURSING people in Walmart who had their breasts hanging out for no reason whatsoever, yet I’m betting they weren’t asked to leave the store. #Justsayin
Thanks, Katia, for standing up for nursing moms and babies! I hope your story spreads to educated other businesses and employees about these laws!