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Your Opinion: Has the Colorado Rockies Breastfeeding Mom Controversy Been Under or Overplayed?

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Last week, I received an email about local moms staging a “Nurse In” as a protest to the Colorado Rockies’ response to a nursing mom.

And I have to admit I almost hit the “delete” button.

It’s not that I don’t believe in breastfeeding in public because I do. Nor am I one to usher women’s rights under the table, which is what the woman promoting this Nurse In claimed it was all about.

It just seemed like such an extreme response to something I thought had already been smoothed over. But upon further investigation, I discovered it was a lot more complicated than that.

A bit of background: Colorado Springs mom Sandra Snow was seated in the nosebleed section at a Rockies game. Her baby needed to eat so she moved back to a closed-off section to nurse her. Sandra was allegedly being discreet by covering up when a Rockies usher told her she was not allowed to nurse her baby there.

A supervisor later came over and told Sandra because of the many cameras and “perverts taking pictures” it would have been more appropriate to feed the baby in the family restroom, which, it turns out, is nothing more than a toilet.

If I was Sandra, would I have been ticked? You betcha.

But do I think this has been a wee bit blown out of proportion? You betcha.

Sandra was somewhere where she should not have been so that usher was well within her right to ask her to move. We only have Sandra’s side of the story and not the usher’s but the matter in which the message was given was allegedly abrupt and rude.

Umm, OK. I get that.

I have repeatedly been the victim of religious bigotry. But if I held a protest for every situation I encountered where I was offended or someone violated my rights, I’d be a busy and bitter woman.

The Colorado Rockies issued an apology and claimed it was all just a miscommunication and that the issue was not about the breastfeeding but rather a reprimand that she could not nurse where she was sitting. When I mentioned this to the Nurse In organizer, she claimed “Though they [the Rockies] did release a half-hearted press release, no apology has been given to Sandra or her family.”

I get that, too. I often make my kids redo apologies when I feel they’re not from the heart. And let’s face it: big corporate publicists are just trying to legally cover their butts. The entire situation was poorly handled from start to finish by the staffers at the Colorado Rockies.

To stage a Nurse In might have been appropriate had the Rockies not responded and tried to brush this under the table. But they did address the issue, though not to the satisfaction of some.

No woman should ever be denied the right to breastfeed in public because it is legal in Colorado. I personally nursed both of my children in public and always ensured I was being discreet like Sandra allegedly was.

But I see the other side, too. This may not be just about the right to breastfeed in public. The details are murky because Sandra was not where she –or anyone else—was supposed to be. She likely would have gone unnoticed if she would have remained in her own seat. A few ignorant and rude staffers are not a representation of the corporation’s official policy and this was addressed in the apology they issued.

One thing I am resolved about: It just seems fruitless to hold a Nurse In to make a point about a point that, in this particular situation, may not need to be made.

What is your opinion? Was Sandra well within her right to breastfeed where she did? How do you feel about the way the Colorado Rockies handled the situation? Discuss politely, please. Malicious comments directed at any of the parties will be deleted.

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Comments
  • comment avatar Adventures In Babywearing June 21, 2010

    I think *almost* ALL occasions of mothers being asked to leave or move because of breastfeeding in public (covered up or not) are because of mis-communication and misunderstandings. I can totally see where the people organizing the nurse-in are coming from, but unfortunately I sometimes feel (as a long-time breastfeeder) that it comes off as harsh, and more detrimental to the image of breastfeeding in public.

    Fact is, THOUSANDS (maybe MILLIONS?)of Moms are breastfeeding in public somewhere every day, with no complaints, not being asked to leave, maybe even some great encouraging remarks!- and you don’t hear much about those positive experiences and situations. We only hear about the negative. I do think it’s important to educate in situations like the Rockie’s game- people heard about it, there was an apology, people learned…

    but I think Moms knowing about positive nursing in public experiences, knowing that they most likely will not be asked to leave somewhere or end up on the news- THAT is what will get more Moms nursing in public and the more Moms that nurse in public, the more people will see it and recognize it as normal and natural, and it will become more mainstream (which is crazy, and I believe mainly a USA thing that it ISN’T already mainstream)

    I think Moms don’t need to be on the defense when nursing their baby- do not expect someone to make a negative comment. And when I think of Nurse-ins, I just think (unless the place the offense happened is absolutely staunch and non-apologetic) they’re ASKING FOR THE CONTROVERSY.

    Sometimes that’s what it takes to make changes- big or small. And I have to commend those that do. It’s just not me. I’ll protest by continuing to nurse my toddler pleasantly in public as I always have.

    Steph

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson June 21, 2010

    Well conveyed, Steph. As a staunch breastfeeding and attachment parenting advocate, I thought you would be pro-Nurse In but your arguments to the contrary make complete sense.

  • comment avatar Karen Jones June 21, 2010

    It kinda makes me cringe when I hear about things like Nurse Ins because I think it casts a negative light on all of us. I hate that there are stereotypes out there about breastfeeding, La Leche League-type Nazis when there is a VERY small minority who are over-the-top like that. Yes, breastfeeding is our right and I am grateful for that. But with breastfeeding in public comes a responsibility to do it discreetly. There is absolutely zero discretion in something like a Nurse In. And I agree with you–there are too many gray areas in this situation to warrant such extremes.

  • comment avatar Holly June 21, 2010

    Oh man, I would of been furious. I don’t think anyone is blowing this out of proportion. Yes, she was not in her correct seat but most people at baseball games shift seats to get a better view once the game starts and she was only shifting seats to be MORE discreet. If this comment was aimed toward a specific race, the whole world would be all over this topic. I think history and society sees and expects mothers (and women in general) to be so accepting and never raise a fuss and once someone does, it’s over the top, being CRAZY. Not being able to express ourselves is bull, and when it comes to the most basic, primal need, to feed our offspring, whip out that boobie and FEED! She was covered and went out of her way to be discreet and the truth is, breastfeeding was being discriminated against. I’m all for the nurse in and whatever other action breastfeeding (or any mother being a MOTHER) needs to do to stand up and prove a point. Sometimes it takes “crazy” to prove a point.

  • comment avatar John June 21, 2010

    I’m confused by the need for a Nurse In. The woman was sitting in a forbidden place, the Rockies apologized and you still feel the need to hold a huge protest?

    In behalf of men, I’m cool with feeding your little ones in public. But boobs are boobs for whatever purpose and there is no need to flash the world.

  • comment avatar Amber's Crazy Bloggin' Canuck June 21, 2010

    Great comments/perspectives, everyone. Keep ’em coming!

  • comment avatar C.S. - UT June 21, 2010

    I agree with John (above). There is no need to take this to the extreme. Not everyone agrees with breastfeeding in public. Forcing your opinion of breastfeeding in public is doing the same as forcing your opinion on someone to not breastfeed in public.

  • comment avatar Nicole C June 21, 2010

    I agree, if she was indeed being discrete, she should have stayed where she was and probably would have been fine. Or at least if she was told not to breastfeed, she would have a more legitimate claim to hold the ‘Nurse In’. Just my opinion as a free breastfeeder 🙂

  • comment avatar Lauren in GA June 21, 2010

    I don’t think that there is anything wrong with a Nurse In if it is used as a blanket statement against discrimination of women breastfeeding in public…but, because of all of the reasons you mentioned, it, in my opinion, really isn’t warrented in this situation. It is kind of ironic to me that Sandra moved in hopes to be more discreet and her moving (in hopes to be thoughtful to those around her) is where the problem began.

  • comment avatar JoAnn June 21, 2010

    Personally, I feel a “nurse in” is a bit extreme in this case. Now, had the woman been sitting in her assigned seat (or not in a restricted area), and THEN been told to go feed her baby elsewhere, THAT would be a big deal.

    It’s my understanding that she was in a restricted area. Rules are rules. It’s also my understanding that the Colorado Law regarding breastfeeding states that a woman has a right to breastfeed wherever she has a right to BE. If she’s not where she’s supposed to BE, she’s not technically supposed to be doing ANYTHING there: knitting, reading a book, feeding her child with a bottle, or breastfeeding.

    I breastfed my daughter everywhere: Restaurants, stores, parties, the park, my car…everywhere I was allowed legally to be. I did so discretely. Most of the time, those people around me had no idea what was going on. In fact, had I NOT fed my daughter when she was hungry, the screams would have certainly disturbed ALL of the general public in our general vicinity. 😉

    Should women be allowed to breastfeed at a Rockies’ game? Of course! Should they be allowed to do anything in a restricted area without permission? No.

    It would be interesting to go back in time and see what would have happened had she stayed in her seat and breastfed her baby. Odds are? Nothing. In fact, I bet there are women who breastfeed at baseball stadiums all the time.

    Great conversation, Amber!

  • comment avatar Christa Palmer June 21, 2010

    I think that as long as the employees were reprimanded and educated, a nurse-in is probably just going to spread negative feelings. I think a better alternative might be to offer the organization some literature on breast-feeding in public and to offer their supervisors some talking points on how to deal with the issue in the future. Train them to deal with the problem in the future.

    Now, if the Rockies organization is confrontation about the problem, then a Nurse-in is the way to go.

  • comment avatar Indiana June 21, 2010

    Um, to the “Johns” and “C.S.s” of the world, breastfeeding in public is not an opinion, it’s a right. And it is not “flashing”. I have never seen, or myself exposed, more skin than would be revealed in a modest bathing suit top. If just “knowing” what is beneath the happy, content baby being fed the absolutly wonderful, most nutritionally complete food possible for them, bothers you, then …here’s an idea…don’t look. I do agree that the issue here is where she was sitting, but of course, as with many people these days, no one seems to know how to speak to others in a way that is kind and polite and shows fellow feeling. Wow. we wouldn’t need nurse ins ever if that was the case.

  • comment avatar Hillary June 21, 2010

    I think Ms. Snow was well within her right to breastfeed and I think there would be no issue at all if she hadn’t moved to an area that was closed-off. I also believe that the staff could have handled the situation more appropriately by just politely asking her to leave the restricted area. Breastfeeding is not the issue, choosing to go into a restricted area was.

    Between my two children, I have been breastfeeding in public for the better of four years. I do not use a nursing cover or blanket, I do not usually wear a nursing shirt and I do not expose my entire breast. This is what works best for me and my baby and what I feel is most discrete for us. I have received nothing but praise and thanks for helping to promote a positive image of breastfeeding. The few times I have “covered-up”, I get overheated, my baby gets overheated, and far more people seem interested in what is going on under that piece of fabric. Each mother must choose for herself the manner in which she is comfortable breastfeeding, but it is also her responsibility to stay out of restricted areas.

  • comment avatar Liz June 21, 2010

    A Nurse In sounds so lame. Sure, I would have been pissed if I was all situated in my seat, nursing my baby and I was asked to stop and move. Sounds like the Usher was on a power trip, doing her job yes but got a little carried away. An apology was issued, all is good but a Nurse In? Really? Like you said, it’s already legal to nurse in public but The Rockies stadium is, I assume privately owned and they can do whatever they want. It all comes down to respect-on all sides.

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson June 21, 2010

    All great comments, everyone. Keep those different perspectives coming!

  • comment avatar Diane June 21, 2010

    I’m all for discretion, but if her side of the story was correct–the Rockies were way out of line.

    I breastfed my son discretely well over a decade ago. Sorry, but there aren’t many comfortable places to nurse when your not home. Most of the time, I sat in the car. The worst place to be was a sporting event. I did that just once. I locked my son and I in a handicap bathroom stall and sat a large blanket on the floor so that I could nurse away from the crowds and the sun. To this day, I don’t feel I should have done this, but I felt I had no choice as it was a full stadium and hot.

    Kids have to eat. I have nursed many times on planes, in airports, parks and just about everywhere you can imagine. The easiest place, surprisingly was an airplane. Women need comfortable places to nurse and despite the fact that so many women work, most still pump milk for their babies in odd places.

  • comment avatar serf rett June 21, 2010

    “The only thing so called Tolerant People will not tolerate is Intolerance.” serf ‘rett

    I’m ignorant of the fracas and even more so of the actual facts of the case so cut me a little slack for being uneducated as my only experience is definitely third hand through the wife. I’m not equipped for the intimate care of babes, but from my observation it seems to be a special thing, bonding, operation, connection, oh boy, I don’t even know what I saith here…
    Someone please explain to the old man serf the purpose and goal of the Nurse In, because I just am not able to connect the dots on this one.

    Is the Nurse In designed to promote a woman’s right to breastfeed in public? That seems kinda dumb since women already have that right via State of CO law.

    Is the Nurse In a statement to chastise the “Rude Rockies?” It strikes me as rude to take this small incident and to make it into a major affair. It appears rude and frankly uncultured for the Nurse In organizers to take the God designed beauty and wonder of breastfeeding and use it as a whip to beat the Rude Rockies.
    Wouldn’t the Nurse In degrade the intimate connection of a mother and child to the level of a selfish, self-seeking political statement, a demanding of rights, an in-your-face taunting, …
    Doesn’t it strike anyone that staging a Nurse In seems to be particularly twisted thinking. Protest if you want, boycott if you please, letters to the editor if that’s your thing, but for the life of me I can’t see a Nurse In. Even if I were to abandon my high ideals of a God designed wonder, and take the view that the baby is getting nourishment from a high modified sweat gland (thank my Biology teacher mom for that one), I still fail to see how the Rude Rockies will be impacted by a Nurse In. Is Rude Rockie Management going to be impressed by a pack of female homo sapiens utilizing their highly modified sweat glands? Female homo sapiens running around buck naked might be interesting; however, just them using their highly modified sweat glands, not so much.
    I’m wondering where Sandra is in the entire hullabaloo? Is she leading the charge for the Nurse In or did other righteous souls take up the hue and cry in her behalf? Perhaps a pack of kind souls, with their own agenda, see this as an opportunity to force their beliefs on others. It happens all the time folks!

    My simple take, based on the limited information, Sandra was where she shouldn’t have been. If she wasn’t in a restricted area, NONE if this would have happened; therefore, she is primarily responsible for the ensuing conflagration. Her failure doesn’t excuse purported the actions of rude usher (we don’t really know this as a fact; some folks would accuse Jesus of being rude if He asked them to do anything). The supervisor’s attempt to placate has some reasoning if the Rockies actually have a policy in place about nudity during a public event or if CO law prohibits public nudity, but I think the Super may have missed the mark (the video of how Sandra responded and reacted would be interesting). The Nurse In folks are missing the mark farther than the Super.

    Being discrete simply means one wouldn’t violate public nudity laws while breastfeeding. Sandra may need to practice at home until she’s competent enough to perform the feat in public. (Signal to pound the serf for his male ignorance). My wife mastered the art.

    P.S. I’m not attending the Nurse In.

  • comment avatar Holly June 21, 2010

    I have to say one more thing. This is NOT about where she was sitting, that is just Rockies excuse to cover up the situation. She wasn’t where she should have been but so are MANY people EVERY game. You don’t see it in the news. The excuse was, no feeding due to cameras and pervs. This was clearly against breastfeeding and if Rockies addressed the ignorant breastfeeding remark, maybe I wouldn’t feel so strongly against them. Come on, they seriously made up an easy out, it’s like the things I would make up when I was little to cover up what I really meant.

  • comment avatar Upstatemomof3 June 21, 2010

    I knew nothing of the situation until reading this so I cannot say whether it has been blown out of proportion or not. I will say that the fact that she was sitting somewhere she was unauthorized to be complicates the matter. If she had been in her seat and they told her to breastfeed in the bathroom I would say they were totally in the wrong and deserve whatever anyone wants to give them. And really just the fact that they suggested breastfeeding in the bathroom – on a TOILET?!?! No, not okay. And I guess I think that this kind of thing happens all over the country all the time means that the more attention each situation can get the better. People need to get over women breastfeeding. That said in this situation I worry that the woman said she had moved to breastfeed in private and then was told to do so in the restroom as they do not have a private breastfeeding area – which I do not think they have to. So….. I’m on the fence I guess.

  • comment avatar Denise June 21, 2010

    I breastfed both of my daughters for a total of 4 years. To be quite honest, I never knew it was so controversial. I never once ran into problems, if I fed in public I was discreet. It seems to be blown out of proportion in this case, it’s disheartening how quickly advocates want to jump all over a situation and make it a big deal. It also makes me just as sad when someone that has a position like an usher can’t just let a woman feed her baby.

  • comment avatar Lisa S June 22, 2010

    Interesting. I was a nursing mom for over 7 years, so I had many opportunities for nursing in public. More often than not, people weren’t even aware that I was nursing because I was discreet. It’s difficult enough to get new moms to nurse instead of bottle feed, and with no provision for a mothers room at the venue, where should she go? Publicly embarrassing someone is not in the best interests of the Rockies – but as a response, a “nurse in” seems a bit extreme. The phrase “the customer is always right” may fit here, because she paid to be at the game…and if the PR dept. wants to look good, then provide and direct her to an appropriate and comfortable place to feed the baby if they are that concerned about it!

  • comment avatar Jennifer Rudolph June 23, 2010

    I believe in nursing babies, if mothers can. I nursed both of mine. Nursing in public is part of nursing.

    It sounds like Ms. Snow was doing her best to be discrete about it, but just chose the wrong place. She could have been sitting there talking on the phone and still been asked to move. So would we have scheduled a “talk-in” in response to the usher doing his job?

    Jenn

  • comment avatar Sue Petracek June 24, 2010

    It is indeed unfortunate this became a breastfeeding issue rather than a sitting-in-restrictive-area issue. That is the key to me: we are defensive so we hear, “you can’t sit here because you are breastfeeding your baby.” I’m not saying that’s what happened. I am just imagining myself in Ms. Snow’s shoes.

    On the other hand, it’s also clear the stadium staff fixed on the breastfeeding issue, which should have been the non-issue. Why else would a second person come and try to explain away the previous usher’s request?

    Mainline breastfeeding would mean a routine part of a public venue’s staff training is how to handle unusual situations. I’m betting they get training on what to do with a handicapped fan, or someone getting hit on the head with a ball or jumping onto the field. They should be trained on the options a mother might (or might not) have in terms of a quieter place if the mother wants it. Whomever is doing employee training at Coors Field and Target and Walmart and MacDonald’s and … ought to be including breastfeeding laws and courtesies as a normal part of the training.

    I’m still hoping that by the time my granddaughter is old enough to have a baby and breastfeed, breastfeeding will truly be normal.

    Sue

  • comment avatar Suzie A. June 29, 2010

    I successfully fed my son at Rockies games, more than once, discreetly from my own seat. No one said a thing!

  • comment avatar Kagey June 30, 2010

    If the Nurse-In helps sells tickets for a Rockies game, this actually turns into a “win” for the Rockies. They will each need a ticket to get in, right?

    Moving to the restricted section is only sort of a red herring. Because Sandra was alone, the employee noticed her easily. Her attempt to be a little more discreet backfired. (The employee obviously needs better training, but that isn’t my point.) Isn’t this progress, in a weird sort of way? Staying with the group might not have gotten her noticed, but trying to “hide” was noticed? We don’t need to hide anymore!
    As for the camera comment, I wonder what the jumbo-tron operator does when he pans across the crowd and hits upon a mom breastfeeding?

    I like Suzie A’s comment about successfully nursing at a game. I wonder how many of us could post stories about places where we have easily nursed, or even been helped? I remember an Applebee’s waitress who glanced at my drape, realized what was going on, and shifted my drink to be closer to my free hand. Subtle and helpful.