Bakersfield store tells mom she can't breastfeed

Mother turns to social media to tell her story

Elizabeth Ramirez isn't shy when it comes to breastfeeding her 3-month-old daughter, even in public places.

Last month, Ramirez said she started to nurse uncovered in a local store that she didn't want to name, when she was approached by the store's manager.

"At first, she told me not to breastfeed in her store because she had complaints," said Ramirez. "Then I informed her it was the law that I am allowed to breastfeed in a public place."

Ramirez was in fact right. California law protects her when it comes to breastfeeding in public. According to the California Civil Code 43.3 (1997), a mother is allowed to 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.

"I knew this was wrong and we needed to stand up for it," Ramirez said.

Not only did Ramirez file a complaint with the store's upper management, she turned her efforts to social media to share her story. With the help and support of her friend Becca Dillenbeck, who is also a nursing mother, they started the Facebook page, "Hey Bakersfield-Breastfeeding isn't Shameful."

"We really want this page to be a support," said Dillenback. "If action's needed then that's what we want. If it's not, then just give each other support and love and help each other along is what we're really working towards."

While Ramirez didn't make national headlines with her bad public nursing experience, a Texas mother has. She claimed she was breastfeeding her baby outside a Houston Hollister store when the manager came out and she couldn't nurse there. Now mothers across the nation and in Bakersfield are holding demonstrations outside Hollister Stores. Local mother's gathered for a nurse-in over the weekend at the Valley Plaza.

"We're not asking bottle feeders to cover their babies or to go to the bathroom or to leave to feed their children," said Ramirez. "We just want the same respect."

Hollister has not commented on the situation in Texas. But as for Ramirez's experience, she said the store eventually addressed and handled her situation.

"Everything was apologized for and they promised training and that's what we're looking for," Ramirez said.

Ramirez said hopes her experience will serve as a lesson for others who may not be so tolerant.

"We want people to know that it's normal, natural and legal," she said.


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