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Vincent Iannelli, M.D.

City Puts Limits on Breastfeeding

By May 18, 2011

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A mother with her breastfeeding toddler. Photo by Thinkstock Images / Getty Images At a time when most people are working hard to educate everyone on the importance of breastfeeding, encourage more mothers to start breastfeeding, and increase the rate of breastfeeding at three months, six months, and longer, one city has actually passed an ordinance that will likely help limit breastfeeding.

The City Council for the City of Forest Park, Georgia, which is just south of Atlanta, has passed a law that equates breastfeeding with nudity and public indecency.

According to the new law in Forest Park, women can't breastfeed kids older than two years old in public.

Besides the fact that it is a terrible idea to do anything that might restrict breastfeeding, whatever your views are on breastfeeding in public or extended breastfeeding, whether it is to directly limit where mothers can breastfeed, or indirectly harm the idea that breastfeeding is natural, it is hard to even believe the ordinance is legal.

Like many other states, Georgia has a state law that declares that a 'mother may breast-feed her baby in any location where the mother and baby are otherwise authorized to be.'

There is even a federal law that states that 'Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a woman may breastfeed her child at any location in a Federal building or on Federal property, if the woman and her child are otherwise authorized to be present at the location.'

Several states have specific breastfeeding laws that exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws, but is that really necessary? With this Forest Park ordinance going into effect, months after the Surgeon General released a Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding and the creation of a national campaign to promote breastfeeding, maybe we do.

The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn't put a limit on how long moms should breastfeed, why should the Forest Park City Council in Georgia? The AAP states that 'There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.'

The Mayor and City Council of the City of Forest Park state that they 'determine the policies of the City and enact the local laws necessary for the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare.' Help them understand that their new law that equates breastfeeding with nudity and public indecency does nothing to protect the health or welfare of the city's children or their mothers. In addition to calling or emailing city officials, parents who live nearby should consider attending the Forest Park Nurse In on Monday, May 23 in front of City Hall.

Fighting this law will also help to make sure that other cities and states don't try to pass similar laws.

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May 19, 2011 at 12:21 am
(1) Kristen says:

Terrible law! I totally agree with the author on the city going backwards and not supporting breadstfeeding. What an ignorant thing to do!!

May 19, 2011 at 10:31 am
(2) Jordan says:

I think you’re overreacting to what is written here. The age cutoff is two, meaning the vast majority of kids will be weaned by that age. My issue is with the mothers that continue to breast feed kids that are six or seven years old in public, with no attempt to cover up anything. I don’t want to see that and neither do a lot of other people.

I’d like to see more of the details of this law but I also wonder if this only applies to uncovered breastfeeding. I think modesty dictates covering at all times just because of the number of creepers around.

May 19, 2011 at 11:04 am
(3) Vincent Iannelli, MD says:

“Id like to see more of the details of this law but I also wonder if this only applies to uncovered breastfeeding. I think modesty dictates covering at all times just because of the number of creepers around.”

What is uncovered breastfeeding?

Do you have an example or report of a mom taking off her clothes before nursing her child in public?

The vast majority of cities and states have a lot of things to worry about these days. You would think politicians would be busy enough addressing all of these issues before they used their time passing laws like this one.

And even if the cutoff is for kids over age two, when most kids aren’t nursing anymore, the law sends a terrible message to moms of younger kids who are breastfeeding or who are thinking of breastfeeding. How many moms are going to think twice about breastfeeding in pubic and an my now give their baby a bottle, which can reduce how long they breastfeed, because they don’t feel comfortable breastfeeding in public because this law equates breastfeeding with public indecency?

May 19, 2011 at 4:45 am
(4) Sooz says:

Obviously created by a man. Ridiculous!

May 19, 2011 at 9:26 am
(5) Vincent Iannelli, MD says:

The surprising thing is that the mayor and most of the city council are women.

May 19, 2011 at 4:51 am
(6) Squall says:

Actually, you’d more likely get this kind of thing from a woman with breast and breastfeeding issues than a man.

May 19, 2011 at 8:02 am
(7) GaPeech says:

What a bunch of bassackwards rednecks. I live in Georgia and these idiots make me ashamed.

Women breastfeed your babies there. Let them give you a ticket. Then watch the Federal government help you sue them and get a wad of money.

This law will NOT hold up. Yes, it was made by men. And dumb ones at that.

May 19, 2011 at 9:11 am
(8) Dee says:

The biggest exposed BOOB is the idiot who thought this was a good law to inact.

May 19, 2011 at 11:31 am
(9) jeff says:

Call the city of Forest Park and let them know what you think.


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May 19, 2011 at 1:42 pm
(10) Annabee says:

The craziest thing is that more breast is shown at the local pool or the beach than by a women breast feeding a child over 2, whose head covers the whole lot!

I don’t know when I plan to stop breast feeding my baby; but it’s about time people get over others doing it in public. If they don’t want to cover up — WHO CARES! I always want to thank moms who nurse in public, who are making new moms (like me) feel that little bit more confident to get out and about with baby.

So it’s not necessary for a 2 year old to be breast feeding on demand (therefore in public) but if that’s what people want to do it’s time everyone else get over it! It’s not our problem. You say you don’t want to see it … then look away.

If they really want to make a restriction, why not just require people use a coverup/hooter-hider/udder-cover?

The author is right, whether you agree with the age to wean or not, the point is breast feeding should be encouraged any way possible.

May 21, 2011 at 12:54 pm
(11) Sharon Knorr says:

You will have the spectacle of a woman being accused and then having to prove that her child is of a certain age. This will discourage all women from breastfeeding because many will not be certain of what the law says except that it is about breastfeeding in public. Are there that many women nursing older children in public that this needs to even be addressed? Interestingly, we have a law in Rochester, NY that allows women to be publicly nude on top (gender-bias issue – guys can go topless, why not women too?), but we don’t have a problem with women routinely exposing themselves. This is about people not being comfortable with older babies or children nursing, not about public exposure of breasts. It sets a terrible example for other communities who may also be governed by similarly-minded folks. Unbelievable in this day and age to have to be dealing with this kind of stuff. Not sure if more education is the solution or maybe something like a mass nurse-in with babies of a certain age. Someone in the community needs to organize opposition to this ordinance in a way that will promote better understanding of breastfeeding and explores the real issues underlying the passage of the law.

May 23, 2011 at 4:47 pm
(12) Gail says:

Nursing is a great source of comfort to a nervous or upset toddler. Some toddlers can’t drink cow’s milk and need the added nutrition of breast milk (why is our society so twisted that should even be an issue to bring up – human milk is FAR healthier for a little one that cow’s milk?).

Children come in many different sizes; my 20 month old is as big as some 3 year olds, and was the size of many 2 year olds at 12 months. Are women going to have to carry around ID cards for their babies to prove their birth dates? The age of natural weaning varies from child to child. Are children in this particular city magically supposed to suddenly stop wanting to nurse at 23.5 months?

Most women try to be discreet, but let’s be realistic. Many children won’t tolerate a cover – a cover actually causes the nursing to be LESS discreet because the baby plays with it. Usually the baby hides everything, but you can’t always cover up completely if she suddenly pulls away, or decides to pull on your shirt. The only truly private place generally available to nurse is a toilet stall – would you seriously expect women to feed their babies in a toilet stall? Women who nurse do it for the health and well-being of their children, not to show off. If a breast is briefly shown, so what? People just need to learn not to stare at breastfeeding moms.

It’s a lot less than you’ll see on most billboards and magazine ads. Of course that’s OK, because it’s for money, not to nourish a baby. Ha.

This is just so ridiculous and so backward on so many levels. Shame on this council. The only indecency is in their own minds.

May 28, 2011 at 7:25 pm
(13) Joseph Perkins says:

I think the mayer and his cronies didn’t get enough boobie feeding as a wee baby and thats their problem!!

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