Breast-feeding mom takes on Applebee's

Filed under: Just For Moms, Babies, Your Pregnancy, Places To Go, Nutrition: Health

Brooke Ryan claims all she was after last June was an anniversary lunch with her husband and baby at an Applebee's restaurant in Kentucky. What she got was a battle with the restaurant chain over her right to breast-feed her son in public.

She says she was discretely nursing her 7-month-old son Michael in a booth in the back of the restaurant when a waitress told her she would have to cover herself with a blanket. Kentucky is hot in June and Ryan didn't have a blanket. When the waitress again insisted that she cover up, Ryan asked to see the manager. When he arrived, Ryan handed over a copy of the 2006 Kentucky law that prohibits interference with a breastfeeding mother in public.

The manager claimed he knew about the law, but because someone had complained about Ryan's indecent exposure, he said she must cover up. Ryan ended up feeding her son in the car, but couldn't let the matter drop. She had her lawyer send a letter to Thomas and King, the company that operates Applebee's in central Kentucky. In response, the restaurant chain said it would consider keeping blankets on hand for breast-feeding women to cover themselves. "That's like telling Rosa Parks she still had to sit in the back of the bus, but we'll give her a blanket to make her more comfortable," Ryan says.

Mike Scanlon, president of Thomas and King says Applebee's has no policy against breast-feeding, but feels it should be done discretely. "It is perfectly legal to breast-feed in public and we support that," Scanlon said. "I'm not sure the manager said cover the baby's head, I think he said cover yourself modestly. This was by no means intended as interference, but a request to do it modestly, which I believe is an appropriate response."

Ryan and her husband Michael are not happy with that response. "Some women think it's fine to cover up with a blanket, but a woman shouldn't be forced to," Michael said. Ryan is planning some public events in Kentucky to raise awareness and is asking Applebee's to institute some training for employees about the rights of breast-feeding mothers. "I'm not trying to be provocative," she said. "I want to teach."

What do you think about this? Should a breast-feeding mother be required to cover up when nursing in public?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.