Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Can't Keep UpDate

So much has been happening that I can't keep up.  For those of you not following Facebook or who may have missed it there, here's the most important update of late, posted to fb last Friday:

This is my baby with the superintendent, Dr. Carstarphen, after the board meeting on November 19.

We have made a difference! I received an email from Dr. Carstarphen, and based on Mr. Waxler's recommendation following comments from the SHAC members, the existing regulation has been rescinded, effective immediately!

I am thrilled at this news! I look forward to working with the district in the creation
of a new policy that will follow Texas law & serve as a model for other school districts in Texas & throughout the country. I love this town of ours, & I will be even prouder to live here when AISD has a new mother- & baby-friendly regulation in place.

We couldn't have gotten this far without hundreds & hundreds of thoughtful and respectful people - thank you all so much for everything you've done - whether it was clicking "Like" on this page, sharing the petition, writing the district or calling a legislator - it all matters. It all added up to make a big difference, so from the bottom of our hearts, thank you! Please stay tuned in as we continue this process. When there's a new policy that upholds the law & respects breastfeeding mothers, that's when it'll officially be a victory.

And then - the rest of Texas. :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My Birthday Wish

Tonight I celebrated my birthday by attending a meeting of the School Health Advisory Council (SHAC).  I'll try to write more on that later, but I just want to quick post my birthday wish. 

I hope that the support of many of the SHAC members tonight leads to a change in the district regulation to one that reads something like this:

AISD recognizes that breastfeeding is an important and basic act of nurture that must be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health and family values.  It is also crucial for public health and reducing health care costs.   The Texas Legislature says that a mother is entitled to breastfeed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be.

In keeping with these principles, mothers are welcome to breastfeed on AISD school campuses.  Therefore, a visitor who is breastfeeding her baby may not be denied the right to be in any part of a campus that would otherwise be available to her.  If she requests, a breastfeeding mother must be given access to the private room designated by the campus principal to be used by employees to breastfeed or pump.  Any offer to use this room should be made only with genuine assurances that the mother is welcome to breastfeed her baby wherever she chooses.

Editor's Note:  Above is the language we proposed before the winter break.  Below is what I originally posted here, before Marianne Baker and I worked on it some more.

"It is the policy of the Austin Independent School District to comply with Texas law, which protects a woman's right to breastfeed wherever she is authorized to be. A visitor will not be denied a right to be in any part of a campus that would otherwise be available to her. If she requests, a nursing mother shall be provided access to the private room designated by the campus principal to be used by nursing employees. Any offer to use this room should be made only with genuine assurances that the mother is welcome to feed her baby wherever she chooses.”

Sunday, December 2, 2012

KEYE News Interview 11/21/12

I had my 15 minutes of fame in high school when I was cast as Claire Zachanassian in "The Visit."  So I'm good.  I had my moment in the sun.  I wasn't/am not looking for a spotlight.  

When I realized that I was going to need to "go public" to find enough support to have any hope of convincing AISD to change their policy, I thought about remaining anonymous.  I even made up a pen name for my blog - Kaydee Pine - not much real significance there, besides the fact that it felt super dorky - or at least, just really not right.  

Then a friend on Facebook (cause I asked my fb friends if it was super dorky to use a pen name, because I'm a terribly indecisive person) basically likened being anonymous to nursing in the private room.  

That resonated with me, and I scrapped my efforts to move my blog under a nom de plume.

I'm an introvert.  I prefer to express myself in writing rather than verbally.  In elementary school, kids thought I was a snob.  But I was just intensely shy and quiet - I didn't even want to talk to a waiter to order for myself in restaurants.  Now, at 36, I can order a meal from a stranger without anxiety, but ask me to give a sound bite to a question on camera - ugh.  

So I put off doing a news interview as long as I felt I could, even though I was contacted by a couple of news anchors who wanted to plan for an interview.  Then Mel Waxler was quoted in the Austin-American Statesman and I felt our point of view deserved representation in the news media.

I was so stressed when another anchor, Cassie Gallo from KEYE-TV, called unexpectedly and asked if I wanted to do an interview not in a week or two but in 45 minutes. I was so stressed that when my kids went bonkers about me leaving the house without them, I was totally calm.  

You know that spectrum of stress responses to your children that starts out at 1 - calm and laid back, then gradually ramps up to 10 - yelling like you're the three-year-old.  But when your stress is so intense you speed past 10 and find yourself at 11+ and then - you're all zen. 

That's how freaked I was - zen freaked.

I managed to string together enough sentences to not look like an idiot.  And here it is, if you didn't catch it on Facebook a week and a half ago:

This links to our YouTube channel, to which you can subscribe. 

You can also see it on KEYE-TV's website where there are a handful of comments, and there are many more comments in their Facebook discussion.

I hate that I'm supposed to end blog posts with a question to encourage discussion, but I do what I gotta do.  So - how cute is my baby?!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy

Today I de-Halloweened our front porch.

Yes, it's November 29th.  Yes, I know Thanksgiving was a week ago.

Go ahead and judge if you must.  You didn't actually think I was writing this blog and admin-ing our Facebook page and writing letters to AISD with three kids - one under six months - and still maintaining my household, did you?  I mentioned Mount Laundry, right?  :)  (To be completely honest, Mount Laundry exists here regardless of what else is going on in our lives.)

So yes, our Halloween decorations were still up.  Not a big surprise (to me, anyways), considering I didn't even finish putting them up until October 31st to begin with.  For a little while I tried to convince myself that they were up in protest of the Christmas stuff being out in - what - August, this year?  But since we usually buy our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, that excuse didn't work for long.  If only I'd thought of it sooner.

The thing is, the longer the stupid ghosts and bats were hanging up out there, the harder it was to take them down.

Why is it that the longer we procrastinate, the more difficult it is to initiate a task?  Even - or perhaps especially - the really big stuff - pay that overdue bill, send that late birthday gift, make that appointment.  Then, of course, doing the thing winds up being so completely freaking simple once you're in it.  Ten or fifteen minutes packing away decorations.  Easy-peasy.

It's like the anticipation of a shot, which can be agony, while the actual  pinch of the needle is really no big deal.

As I was thinking how foolish I'd been to let myself be so overwhelmed that I put off this absurdly easy job for so long, and thinking how much embarrassment I could have saved myself, and how much frustration I could have likely saved my neighbors, I thought of AISD.  Because I am almost constantly thinking of AISD.

This could have been a non-issue.  Write a policy copying the language of the law (the right to breastfeed law, not the pumping employees law), email it to me, it's done.  Easy peasy.

Instead, something so simple it's almost ridiculous that it's necessary is taking  And causing a lot of frustration and embarrassment.  We're almost three months in and now it's this whole big thing.

It seems like they ought to be able to sit down for ten minutes, type up a policy conforming to the law, email it to principals, and be done with us. 

We're hosting family after Christmas, and I'd really like to clear off that couch and put up a tree soon, and get an early start on the school's silent auction to boot.  And I'm sure they'd like to focus more fully on educating our kids. 

One last Halloween hurrah  - here I am nursing my babe while trick-or-treating this year.  My oldest and I were ninjas.  Cause he wanted me to be - and cause I'm so good at being discreet that I'm a Nursing Ninja!

Please tell me I'm not alone!  
Is there anything crazy ridiculous you're putting off?

Not Everybody Facebooks?!! or Here Are Our Speeches

I learned recently that not everyone Facebooks.  What the what?  How do you get by in life?  :)  I suppose maybe that means you have time for laundry and maybe even cooking then, huh?  I Facebook like it's my part-time job - which could explain Mount Laundry on the couch...

Anyways, we posted our speeches at the school board meeting on fb, so for you non-Facebookers, here it is:


Pssst: You can subscribe to our YouTube channel, don't ya know.

Our speakers, in order of appearance, are me (Krisdee Donmoyer), my husband Adam Donmoyer, Marianne Baker, Lauren Reyes, Kristine Keller, Megan Buchanan mentions agreeing with us, and our last speaker is Alexia Haywood.

We also had several supporters in the audience - Nancy Mychasiw (who watched our children - I love her so much for that!), Jessica Murillo and Brandon Lee and their son, Melissa Alvarado, Aidan Reyes, and Janet Jones.

Several of us were there as representatives of our local breastfeeding coalition, Central Texas Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition and also from Breastfeeding Moms of Austin.

And this is what we - a bunch of parents, mostly - pulled off with less than 48 hours notice (we initially thought the meeting was the 4th Monday of November, not the 3rd), after 9 o'clock at night on a school night the week of Thanksgiving.  Booyah!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Three Hamlets Blog Post

I find  myself unable to reply to comments and emails as quickly as I would like, and I have several things I'd like to share here on the blog, including letters people have written to the district and blog posts about our efforts.  I'll keep plugging away, though.  Please know that even when I'm quiet, my gratitude for your support is boundless.

Tonight, or more accurately, this morning, I'd like to share this blog post, written by a friend of mine, Rachel Ham.  She is putting a lot of time and effort into researching Mr. Waxler's assertions that AISD's breastfeeding policy is practiced by surrounding school districts and others - the city, the county, and Seton hospitals.  I am so touched by how much she cares about what is going on.  You can read her take on the situation at her blog, My Three Hamlets.

Thank you, Rachel.  You are da bomb!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Contact Your State Legislators

So you're reading the blog, maybe even commenting & "following" it.  You "like" us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, have signed the petition, commented on the media coverage, written to or called the district, and shared all of this with everybody you've ever met.  What more can you do?

Contact your state legislators.

Let them know what's going on - that AISD needs to have a regulation or policy communicating to staff members that they must support breastfeeding moms.  Tell them that sending a nursing mother to a private room stigmatizes public feeding and shames a mother.

Ask your legislator or his/her staff member to please contact the superintendent's office and school board members on your behalf and remind them of their obligation to uphold the law (Texas Health & Safety Code Sec. 165.002.  RIGHT TO BREAST-FEED. A mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be.). 

Feel free to share with them that we have a growing community of supporters among their constituents and in fact across the country.  At this moment, there are over 1,100 "likes" at and our petition, has more than 1,900 signatures.

If you are looking for more ways to help, email me at

Thank you all for your dedication to protecting mothers from discrimination.

Let us know in the comments or on Facebook if you 
contacted your legislators and how they responded. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

May I Have Your Attention, Please...

For about two months, I felt ignored by AISD.  With about 86,000 students and all of the constituent concerns that must come with such a large district, I guess it's no wonder.  I didn't make a complete nuisance of myself, but I stayed in contact, let them know I wasn't going anywhere. I did think it would occur to someone that the media is all about boobs lately.  The Time cover, Adrienne Pine, Applebee's and a Georgia church.  I mean, come on.  But we seem to have taken them by surprise.  All those weeks of rare two- and three-sentence emails, and then - you.

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.  The only change I managed on my own was to get a rigid, written policy in place that violates our rights.  I talked to a mom last night who never worried about breastfeeding at school until she read my story.

What a huge fail. 

But with your help, we have their attention now.

We had several speakers last night, and another few people in the audience supporting us.  And this with less than 48 hours notice, on the Monday before Thanksgiving after nine o'clock at night - and all of us, parents.  We were a powerful presence in that meeting, and with all of the letters they'd been receiving, over 900 signatures on our petition and over 700 Facebook "likes" at the time - they get it now.  Maybe not what we want, not why it matters - not all of them.  We still have work to do.  But they get that we are out here, doing that work.  They understand that this is not an obscure concern raised by only one mother who will slink away into silence.

Thank you, for amplifying my voice.  Out of many, we are one.

At the conclusion of Citizen Communication, we were all chatting in the lobby when the superintendent and chief of staff approached us.  We spoke for at least half an hour.  A lot of questions were asked.  It's not going to be as simple as I'd like.  There will be red tape and hoops, I think.  But we'll get there, thanks to the combined efforts of a lot of people.  Knowing our numbers are growing, they may manage to reduce some of that red tape. 

One day in Austin, no mom picking up her child from school, or visiting her older child at lunch or volunteering on campus, will have to worry that a staff member will confront here and tell her, in essence, that there is something inherently wrong with the fact that she is breastfeeding her baby.

I hope that the tremendous support we've garnered reaches outside of our city, serving to show mothers that there is support out there.  I nursed in public for six years and only ever received encouragement until now.

Now, let's keep their attention.  Keep on keepin' on.  Send letters, call, share the petition, Facebook page, this blog, the twitter feed.  They want balance.  Let's show them we will tip the scales.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Talking Points & Resources

Aack!  I'm told the link doesn't work & it's dinner time & my kids are acting like... kids.  Here's the text.  Sorry for the lack of formatting!  I'll try to fix it later!  :)

The amazing Marianne Baker Bolduc has compiled some talking points and resources.  Not being a pro blogger, I don't know how to transfer all of her formatting, so I'm just going to send you to a link.  It's great info that you may find very helpful in preparing for the school board meeting, as well as for letter writing.  Thank you, Marianne!

If you intend to speak at the school board meeting, here are some ideas for talking points.
They are divided into three sections: General ideas, Barriers to breastfeeding, and Long-
term health outcomes, and Other Resources. Remember that you have only two minutes, so
it is usually best to focus on just one or two ideas.

General Ideas

Babies should be free to eat in public. Breastfeeding is the optimum method of infant
feeding. Breastfed babies need to eat frequently, and thus, need to be free to eat
in public. Several studies have found that embarrassment and concerns about
breastfeeding in public are major barriers to continuation of breastfeeding.

“The legislature has found that breastfeeding a baby is an important
and basic act of nurture that must be encouraged in the interests of
maternal and child health and family values. Texas Health and Safety

Code, § 165.001.

The legislature recognizes breast-feeding as the best method of
infant nutrition. Texas Health and Safety Code, § 165.001.

Barriers to Breastfeeding

Several studies have found that embarrassment and concerns about breastfeeding in
public are major barriers to continuation of breastfeeding. Failing to breastfeed for
at least six months leads to worse health outcomes for babies and mothers. See, for

Nursing women “felt ‘vulnerable’ nursing in public. Certain proactive behaviors and
personal attributes as well as support from other women enabled them to breastfeed
successfully in public.”

Sheeshka J, Potter B, Valaitis R, et al.: Women's experiences
breastfeeding in public places, Journal of Human Lactation 2001;

"The variability in support for breastfeeding by managers of
restaurants and shopping centers will continue to create uncertainty
for mothers wishing to breastfeed in these public places."
McIntyre E, Turnbull D, Hiller J: Breastfeeding in public places,
Journal of Human Lactation 1999; 15(2):131-135.

“Public perception needs to be changed and legislation prohibiting
discrimination against breastfeeding in public needs to be
encouraged and supported,” based on findings that more than
a quarter of surveyed adults found breastfeeding in public

Li R, Fridinger F, Grummer-Strawn L: Public perceptions on
breastfeeding constraints, Journal of Human Lactation 2002;

American Academy of Pediatrics: “Lack of family and broad

societal support is an obstacle to breastfeeding.” Policy statement:
Breastfeeding and the use of human milk, Pediatrics February
2005; 115(2):496-506. Full text of this statement at http://;115/2/496

Scott J, Landers M, Hughes R, et al.: Psychosocial factors associated
with abandonment of breastfeeding prior to hospital discharge,
Journal of Human Lactation 2001; 17(1):24-30.

“Interventions to increase public acceptance of breastfeeding
include legislation ensuring the right to breastfeed.” Shealy KR,
Li R, Benton-Davis S, Grummer-Strawn LM. The CDC Guide to
Breastfeeding Interventions. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2005.
Full text at

Long-Term Health Outcomes

Breastfeeding Reduces Obesity:

Breastfeeding reduces the risk of childhood obesity. Breastfed children have a 30% reduction in
the risk of becoming obese in childhood compared with formula-fed infants. Obesity is linked with
increases in the development of diabetes, hypertension, and other cardiovascular diseases—
expensive and debilitating conditions to treat.
Lancet 2002; 359:2003-2004. Pediatrics 2002; 110:597-608.

Breastfeeding Is Linked to Higher IQ:

Numerous studies link breastmilk and breastfeeding with improved cognitive function and
neurodevelopment in infants. Texas needs a population of bright school children as the basis of a
secure future workforce.
Lancet 1992; 339:261-262. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 1998; 40:163-
Acta Paediatrica 2002; 91(3):267-274.

Breastfeeding Reduces Health-Care Costs by Improving Child Health:

According to a USDA cost analysis, a minimum of $3.6 billion would be saved if breastfeeding
rates are increased from present levels to those recommended by the Surgeon General. This
figure probably underestimates the true savings, as the study only looks at 3 of the childhood
illnesses that breastfeeding protects against: otitis media (ear infection), gastroenteritis (diarrhea),
and necrotizing enterocolitis (a bowel infection of premature infants). Currently, Texans spend
huge amounts of personal, insurance, and tax dollars treating medical problems that could be

prevented by breastfeeding.

The Economic Benefits of Breastfeeding: A Review and Analysis, report prepared for the
USDA, Food Assistance and Nutrition Research, March 2001, Report No.13.

Breastfeeding Lowers the Risk of Breast Cancer:

Women who were breastfed as children and women who breastfeed their own children are at
reduced statistical risk of developing breast cancer. Many Texans have lost a loved one from
breast cancer.
Epidemiology 1994; 5:324-331. American Journal of Epidemiology 2000; 152(12):1129-1135.

Lancet 2002; 360(9328):1871-95.

Breastfeeding for less than 6 months may be a predictor of adverse mental
health outcomes throughout childhood and early adolescence.
The Long-Term Effects of Breastfeeding on Child and Adolescent Mental
Health: A Pregnancy Cohort Study Followed for 14 Years.

Oddy WH, Kendall GE, Li J, Jacoby P, Robinson M, Klerk NH, Silburn SR,
Zubrick SR, Landau LI, Stanley FJ. J Pediatr.. [Epub ahead of print]

OBJECTIVES: To determine whether there was an independent effect of
breastfeeding on child and adolescent mental health. RESULTS: Breastfeeding
for less than 6 months compared with 6 months or longer was an independent
predictor of mental health problems through childhood and into adolescence.
This relationship was supported by the random effects models (increase in
total CBCL score: 1.45; 95% confidence interval 0.59, 2.30) and generalized
estimating equation models (odds ratio for CBCL morbidity: 1.33; 95%
confidence interval 1.09, 1.62) showing increased behavioral problems with
shorter breastfeeding duration. CONCLUSION: A shorter duration of
breastfeeding may be a predictor of adverse mental health outcomes
throughout the developmental trajectory of childhood and early

Other Resources

Saturday, November 17, 2012

School Board Meeting Monday the 19th

UPDATE: You must be signed up by 7pm if you wish to speak; details are below. You do not have to arrive until Citizen Communication, which should begin around 9:15 or so. I am the first signed up, followed by my husband! If you want to show support but not speak, that's great, too. There is a hallway outside of the board auditorium where children can be if you are concerned about them being bored or loud in the auditorium. I imagine we can support each other in keeping an eye on them all.

There is a school board meeting on Monday, November 19 at 7pm. My husband and I plan to speak at the meeting.

PLEASE NOTE: THE MEETING BEGINS AT 7PM, BUT CITIZEN COMMUNICATION IS NOT SCHEDULED UNTIL 9:20.  SIGN UP MUST BE DONE BEFORE 7 (SEE NOTES BELOW) BUT I DO NOT KNOW IF WE MUST WAIT THERE FROM 7 TO 9:20, OR IF WE CAN EXPECT THAT PART OF THE MEETING TO HAPPEN RIGHT AT 9:20.  I WILL POST MORE ON THIS TOMORROW. WHEN I GO IN TO SIGN UP, I'LL ASK QUESTIONS.  I am very sorry for not having all this information straight to begin with.  I really thought I had looked around the website & found what I needed.  I wish I'd called & confirmed.  I'm sorry for any inconvenience & hope you can still attend. 

We are not sure how we are handling childcare.  If you know a great sitter, please email me at  I'm wondering about sharing a sitter & if there's a lobby kids could play in...

If anyone has trouble finding the building or anything, you can call or text me on my cell at (512) 655-9NIP.

The following information is from AISD's website, if you would like to speak at it or just attend to show support.
Every Regular Board meeting includes one hour for Citizens Communication. Each speaker is allotted two minutes. This allows up to 30 speakers, who speak in the order in which they signed up, to address the Board about the issue of their choice.
If you wish to speak during Citizens Communication, you must sign up on the day of the meeting, before the meeting begins. You can sign up in the Superintendent's Office (Rm. A-250) during regular work hours (7:45 am to 4:45 pm), or in the Board Auditorium between 4:45 pm and 7:00 pm. Speakers will be asked to provide the following information: The subject to be addressed, speaker's name, address, and telephone number, and, if applicable, the group or organization the speaker represents. An individual may not sign up for another person, nor can speakers exchange time or yield time to others.
Board meetings are held at the Carruth Administration Complex (CAC) located at 1111 West 6th Street, Room B-100, Austin, Texas, 78703.

All citizens' comments at Regular Board meetings are televised and rebroadcast on AISD Cable Channel 22 and over the AISD Website.
To get an idea of what the board meetings are like, you can view one here.  Citizen Communication begins just before the 29 minute mark.

Another great way to prepare to speak can be found in this fascinating TED Talk. It's a very worthwhile 20 minutes.  You should watch this even if you won't be at the board meeting.  It's awesome.

Please let us know here or on Facebook if you plan to attend.   Thank you!

Friday, November 16, 2012

AISD Response to Letters

I have been somewhat quiet on Facebook today, and am woefully behind in replying to comments here.  But I am eating, sleeping, and breathing this issue.  If you could see the condition of my house and the size of the laundry mountains, you'd believe me. :) 

If you're new here and finding there's a lot of back story to digest, let me give you the elevator pitch: I was discretely nursing my baby at my sons' school when I was told to go to a private room, even though state law protects my right to breastfeed anywhere I'm authorized to be.  After many weeks on my part spent on the education and diplomacy process, Austin Independent School District officially adopted a policy in direct conflict with that law.  They require principals to send nursing mothers to private rooms.  I'm not talking about employees, who are not likely to have their babies on campus, and for whom these private rooms were set up to begin with, to facilitate pumping.  I'm talking about mothers with babies who are on campus for their older students.  Why is this a problem?  Because simply asking a nursing mother to breastfeed privately sends a message that what she is doing is inappropriate.  Breastfeeding is not inappropriate.  Not privately.  Not publicly.  It is feeding a baby.  And it is protected by law.

When my personal attempts at diplomacy and education failed, I began this blog to explain my story and ask for help in a letter-writing campaign.  The response was overwhelming.  Seriously.  I felt on the verge of an anxiety attack for two days as the blog reached 3,000 page views.  Now, with 11,264 page views here, 533 "Likes" on Facebook, 530 signatures on our petition (in just 36 hours), and many emails/letters sent to the district, you would think they might realize their folly, right?

Um, no.

Posted to our Facebook page today by a supporter, a response from AISD:
Thank you for your email dated November 14, 2012, regarding breastfeeding policy in the Austin Independent School District (AISD). I am responding on behalf of the District to advise that the current practice has been in place in AISD for at least a decade, and has been reviewed by our administration and the Board’s Policy Committee within the last sixty days. The District’s practice is also in place at the City of Austin, Travis County, The University of Texas, Seton Family of Hospitals, and other school districts in the Austin area.

The District very much respects your ardent support of breastfeeding. In fact, the value of and advocacy for breastfeeding is not at all at issue in AISD. The only question is where breastfeeding occurs while on an AISD campus.

This matter arose on one AISD campus because there was an objection raised to breastfeeding in a public area on the campus. As you can imagine, not all parents and staff are of the same opinion regarding the propriety of breastfeeding on a school campus. The District has reviewed the law and concludes that it allows breastfeeding on campus in a place that is clean and dignified, (not a bathroom), and that is authorized and designated by the principal. This position is aligned with Texas law that guarantees the same rights to AISD employees.

Once again, the District appreciates your expression of support for breastfeeding, and we sincerely hope you understand the District’s need to balance the interests of many, especially in an environment that cares for and educates the children of parents and other caretakers with varying and deeply held feelings on this subject.

Melvin E. (Mel) Waxler
Cc: Superintendent
Board of Trustees
Director of Intergovernmental Relations and Policy Oversight
Senior Attorney


What do you think of Mr. Waxler's reply?  
Do you think violating the law and shaming nursing mothers 
demonstrates that AISD values and advocates for breastfeeding?

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I am truly overwhelmed by the attention this has gotten in the past few days.  I hope that the tremendous outpouring of support urges AISD to resolve this situation quickly.

There are a lot of ways you can show your support, whether or not you are in our district:

Thanks for your support!

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Story - The Cliff Notes

Waiting for my son in the lobby of our neighborhood elementary school in Austin Independent School District, I was discreetly nursing my baby when I was told to go to a private conference room. But I know that my right to breastfeed in public is protected by Texas law.

Sec. 165.002. RIGHT TO BREAST-FEED. A mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be.

I discovered that the district did not have a written policy, only a longstanding practice of doing what was done to me. Why is this a problem? Because simply asking a nursing mother to breastfeed privately implies that she is doing something wrong by breastfeeding publicly. 

After months of going through proper channels to get a written policy supporting nursing mothers, the district instead formalized their longstanding practice.  I had exhausted my options as a lone mother, so I went public, asking for support.  Eventually the discriminatory regulation was rescinded.  We were given to understand that a new regulation was forthcoming, but now administration has decided not to bother.  

So we're right back where we started, needing a policy to educate, and prevent further discrimination.

Please check out "How You Can Help (Even If You're Not an Austinite)."  
Write to AISD, or call. Comment here. Join the Facebook page. Sign the petition.  And tell all your friends!

How You Can Help (Even If You're Not an Austinite)

This issue is currently a local issue, but the results of the work we do here may one day affect other parts of the country. So yes, you can be a part of this change even if you are outside of our city or even state.

There are many ways you can help.  

You can contact AISD (see "Contact Information" post) and tell them that clearly a policy that will follow the law and support breastfeeding mothers is needed to educate the present and future staff. You can call, send a letter, or email. If you don't have a lot of time, that's okay. It can be brief.

Contact your state legislators and ask them if they will act on our behalf to encourage AISD to adopt a mother- and baby-friendly policy.

Sign our petition and share it with friends.  

Please like us on facebook follow us on twitter.   

And while you're still here on the blog, follow/subscribe, & show your support with a comment.  

And tell all your friends! 

Whatever it takes, I'm in this for the (potential) long haul, until we get what we deserve - a policy that upholds the law and respects a mother's right to nurse her baby wherever her baby is hungry.

A Phone Call

I was given advice to meet with  my principal one more time and try to have a conversation about breastfeeding at school.  Since this has moved to the district level, I considered instead requesting a meeting with district administration.  But my gut has told me all along that I won't get this done alone.  I didn't want to be put off for weeks, waiting for a meeting, at which I would surely become emotional and feel vulnerable in front of the most powerful people in AISD.  I decided to instead call the person who has been in contact with me.  We have only emailed.  Her replies have always been curt.  I felt like I should give verbal communication a shot.

I procrastinated until the end of the day.  I'm an introvert.  I prefer to write rather than talk in many situations.  Finally at 4:30, I called.  She answered.  That was unexpected.  I didn't even realize I had her direct line.  I wasn't sure exactly what to say.  Somehow I introduced myself and said I wanted to know if the new policy was being reconsidered.  Which is weird, because that's not really what I wanted to know.  What I really want to know is whether the new policy was ever given any consideration.  Or rather, if my letter and the law were given any consideration before formalizing the policy.  But I digress.

Here's the gist of our conversation.

I was told that they followed the pattern set by the legislation that requires a private room to be provided for pumping mothers.  She said that they are not prohibiting mothers from breastfeeding.  For one bright, shiny moment, I thought perhaps I'd misunderstood the policy.  It does not actually state where a mom cannot feed her child.  I thought she was telling me that the private room was just an option.  But no.

I said, "So I can nurse my baby in the lobby while I wait for my son to finish speech?" 

No.  I must go to the principal and ask her to be let into the private room.

"But that IS prohibiting my right to breastfeed wherever I'm authorized to be.  It violates my right."

But they don't think they are prohibiting me from breastfeeding - they are merely offering me a private place to do it.

The question is not whether or not they are prohibiting me from breastfeeding.  It is whether or not
they prohibit women from breastfeeding publicly.  But I didn't say that.  She asked if it was a problem to nurse in private.

"Yes.  If I'm stuffing Thursday folders in an empty classroom, I don't want to stop what I'm doing to go nurse my baby in a private conference room.  If I'm sitting at the back of the room, out of the way, during a holiday party that I planned as the room mom, I don't want to have to make my crying baby wait while I walk to a private room..."  At this point I'm squeezing my husband's hand as hard as I did when I was in labor, trying to ward off the tears that are threatening to overtake my voice (darn breastfeeding hormones!), so it was fine when she interrupted me to assure me that no one wants my baby left crying.  She asserted support for breastfeeding.

She explained that when the legislature passed the law that employees must be provided a private room, that indicated that it's okay to breastfeed in a private room - or something to that effect.  I said "I see a big difference between discretely breastfeeding and attaching clear plastic cups to my exposed breasts to pump milk."  Apparently the volume on my phone is quite high; my husband could hear both ends of the conversation and started writing me a note, "You're not an employee..."  And he's right, of course.  Other than the topic of breastfeeding, the Fair Labor Standards Act has naught to do with Health and Safety Code 165.002, which says that a woman is entitled to breastfeed in any location where she is authorized to be.

I think I was over my verklempt moment by this point, and a bit cranky.  When she said it was a balancing of many perspectives, I got halfway to saying if this were a more backward town and this was a different civil right we were talking about - but then I looked at Adam shaking his head and remembered message discipline.

I went with a different comparison.  I said that Target cannot tell me that I can't nurse my baby pushing my shopping cart through the toy aisle (where there are children) or sitting in the cafe.  Target can't provide a private room to justify telling me I can't nurse publicly there.  I believe what she said was, "I don't know about that." 

I do.

She said that I'd started the conversation asking if the policy was being reconsidered, and that, having just been enacted by the superintendent, it was not.  That was my cue to end the conversation.  I said I thought, having only communicated by email, that I felt I should try verbal communication.  I said I wasn't sure where I could go from here.  And we hung up.

Alone, there is nowhere to go from here.  We need to work together now.

I'm not a blogger.  I tried to blog about my boys but never really found much time for it.  I dislike posts on Facebook that tell you to "Like" and "Share," and to me, when blog posts end with a question designed to encourage people to comment, it feels like that.  But I do need your support.  This is much bigger than just my story now.  So please, like, share, comment.  Or more importantly, contact AISD.  Tell friends who support the right to breastfeed about this blog and the facebook page.  Show AISD that there are more people who support the natural feeding of babies than oppose it.

Thank you.

My Response to the Policy

After a weekend to cool off - which I clearly didn't really manage to do - I sent the following to everyone I'd contacted five weeks earlier.  In the letter I mistakenly say that it had only one reply.  In looking through my emails to write this blog I realized there was one I'd forgotten, letting me know it had been received and was being forwarded to the appropriate staff member, which I appreciated.  So two people replied to my initial letter. 

When a law exists to protect civil rights, violation of that law will be met with public anger, even if your legal staff has advised that the district is within their own rights to flout the law.  Which begs the question - even if the district can find some loophole around following the law, can you get away with it?  Should you try?  Is violating civil rights the right path for an education entity to take?

About five weeks ago, I sent you a letter in which I explained a situation I found myself in on September 5th, when for the first time after many years of nursing my children in public, I was confronted by someone who thought it was inappropriate to do so.  Unfortunately, this was not some yahoo at a restaurant, but the principal of my sons' school.  Knowing that I have a legal right to breastfeed my baby in any place where I am authorized to be, I contacted the superintendent's office and inquired as to whether there is a policy regarding breastfeeding parents on school campuses.  Discovering that there was not one which upheld the law, I wrote to you - to twenty-three of you, each person in the superintendent's office, in legal services, and on the school board - urging you to adopt a written policy reflecting the state law that affords nursing mothers the right to breastfeed their children in public. 

I wrote to twenty-three people because I was uncertain who all might be in a position to effect a change, and who might be disposed to do so.  Almost two dozen people, paid by my community's tax dollars, some elected by my community's votes.  I only hoped for a speedy resolution, but I expected a number of responses.  There was just one return of my communication, with brief assurances that the issue was being addressed and in fact a draft was already going through the chain-of-command for approval.  The "issue," to me, was that the district lacked a written policy which conforms to the law, not simply that the district lacked a written policy.  Encouraged, I waited patiently for two weeks before asking for an update.  Another short reply suggested that I might receive the policy... the following week.  So a week later I made contact... (she) replied that she should be able to share towards the end of that week.  I followed up that Friday, but was informed that the proposal was still being reviewed by AISD staff and would probably not be ready for distribution until the end of the next week.  Finally, after five weeks of patiently going through proper channels, the new policy arrived in my inbox. 

Attached to the end of an eight-page policy detailing how visitors to school campuses are to be managed, the provision in which I "expressed interest" is virtually word-for-word the same as was described to me as the long-standing practice that violates my rights and the law.

In five weeks, I do not know what has occurred amongst those involved in this decision; if nursing mothers have a single ally among you, if the school board was involved in the decision to ignore the law.  I don't know if it came up in a meeting, or a casual conversation was had among a handful of people, or if just a couple of people emailed each other quickly about it.  I know nothing of the process that went into the decision to maintain the discriminatory practice, because I have not received any communication from anyone that offered me any respect.  The emails I received were polite, yes, but never was there any acknowledgement of my concerns as valid, and no explanation of how the lawyers who work for the district justify a provision that denies women a civil right protected by state law.

Instead of respect, I was largely ignored, and allowed to believe for five weeks that I may have made a difference for the better.  When in fact, it is now likely to be perceived by principals as a requirement to move nursing mothers to a private room, rather than an option.  So a bad practice is now a more rigid and thereby, worse, written policy. 

Even without the courtesy of having been told as much, I understand that the district must feel a need to avoid the probability that someone, influenced by this country's over-sexualization of breasts, will complain if a mother is breastfeeding her baby at a school.  I am deeply disappointed that rather than coming down on the side of the nursing mother and child, who represent a need and a right, AISD has chosen to side with the small-minded, who represent only a want.  You could easily have made the right choice and justified it with the fact that to do so is in accordance with the law.  What I think you failed to anticipate in your decision is that the violation of a law and of civil rights will not sit right with many people.

Perhaps since breastfeeding rates are so dismally low in our country as a baby ages (in part due to situations such as you have created), there was a hope that putting me off for five weeks would nullify the issue for me.  I want to assure you that I am in this for the long haul, and I have found a lot of support in my community.  I know many people are appalled that the district is disregarding state law and thereby demeaning me and other nursing mothers.  I hope that as you hear from them, you will give them more respect than I have been shown, and that the provision will be rewritten to conform to the law and show respect, as well, to nursing mothers.

Five Weeks of Waiting

The wait was excruciating.  For five weeks I tried to temper my hope.  I worried, as I still do, each time I am at the school, that my baby would need to be fed.  (Yes, I said I'd nurse him wherever he's hungry, and I have.  But I don't relish the thought of being confronted again.)  I had been given keen advice to go through proper channels, so I waited them out.  A few terse emails were exchanged.  Then, finally, it arrived in my inbox.  An eight-page document on how to manage visitors (sign-in procedure and such), and the note, "The provision in which you have expressed interest is on the last page of the attached policy."

Drum roll, please....


The District shall provide a parent or visitor who has properly
checked in at a campus during the school day, a place, other
than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from in-
trusion by students, employees, and the public, which shall be
used to breastfeed or express milk.

The principal or designee shall direct the parent or visitor to
the place designated by the principal for breastfeeding or ex-
pressing milk.

A few things seem worth noting.  

1. Five weeks is a long time to reproduce essentially the same practice, barely edited, as I was emailed to begin with.

2.  This is still a violation of the rights of nursing mothers and babies.  It still violates the law.

3. It says where a mother can breastfeed.  It does not say where a mother cannot breastfeed.  Still, one implies the other.  I was given verbal confirmation that I cannot breastfeed anywhere but the provided private room.

4. When I wait for my son to finish speech, I am not required to sign in to wait for him in the lobby.  Nor would I need to sign in to pick up my older son outside after school.  Hmm...   

5. This policy is more inflexible than the unwritten practice had been, or at least it could be perceived that way.  Where before
a principal had "discretion to identify a suitable location on campus for such activity," now "The principal or designee shall direct the parent or visitor to the place designated."  "Shall direct" seems more rigid than "discretion to identify."  In that light, rather than choosing to support breastfeeding mothers and uphold the law, it is a step backwards.  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

At the District Level

A week after meeting with the principal I sent the following to everyone in the superintendent's office, each person in legal services, and all of the board members:
I have recently become aware that AISD does not have a policy in place that protects the rights of nursing mothers on school campuses. I am writing to urge the district to adopt a written policy that is in compliance with Texas law.

The way in which I came to know of the lack of a policy was a deeply upsetting one for me. On September 5th near 9am I was in the deserted lobby of my sons' elementary school, where my middle child is in drop-in speech therapy. I sat on a bench with my tired, hungrily fussing baby, waiting for therapy to end and my son to be brought back to me in the lobby at 9. I nursed my baby to sleep. I was, as I always am, very discreet. Occasionally someone would pass me on their way into the office. It was about a handful of people in all, most of them not likely to be aware that I was breastfeeding and not merely holding a sleeping infant.

A teacher noticed, though, and complained to the principal. I was confronted by (the principal) and told to move to her private conference room, as though by feeding my baby I was doing something shameful. I declined. I walked home a little while later fighting tears.

I wrote to our principal, explaining how our encounter had made me feel, expressing concern at how it could impact a mother less comfortable with public breastfeeding. I shared the benefits of breastfeeding and informed her of the law.

The law, of course, is what is most relevant.

Sec. 165.002. RIGHT TO BREAST-FEED. A mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be.

The law exists because legislators have already been convinced of the merits of breastfeeding and the importance of supporting nursing mothers.

Upon inquiry, AISD's practice was expressed to me as follows:
"AISD employs a policy, DEA (LEGAL), embodied in State statute, regarding breaks for nursing mothers. The policy itself addresses the rights of employees to express breast milk for one year after a child's birth, and further ensures that the District provide a location, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view from intrusion from coworkers and the public for such purpose. This, and other policies regarding parental rights as to their children and student privacy rights, have established a long-standing practice in AISD to provide a location, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view by others, to allow a parent the right to breast feed on campus, if necessary. The Campus Principal is vested with the discretion to identify a suitable location on campus for such activity."
However, compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act does not effect compliance with the entitlement to breastfeed where ever a mother is authorized to be.

In fact, to insist a breastfeeding mother be shielded from view is precisely the opposite of conforming to a law that is intended to protect her from being harassed for feeding her child. AISD's practice puts principals and the schools and district at risk of garnering negative media attention and even litigation. It may seem to some like the balancing of rights, where some women need to feed their babies but some families find publicly nurturing a child to be "inappropriate," however that view fails to recognize that only the nursing mother has a legally protected right in this situation. Breastfeeding is not lewd, it is not sexual in nature, and it is not inappropriate. It is not something which children need to be protected from. And any opinion to the contrary does not have legal protection.

I may speak at the school board meeting next month, but I am eager for a more speedy resolution. As a stay-at-home mother I am able to spend a good deal of time at our school, and these past two and a half weeks, every minute there, or even thinking about being there, has been anxiety-ridden. No new mother should have to feel this way, and no mother should be forced to choose between being involved or visiting her older child(ren) at school and feeding her baby in the best way possible, by breastfeeding as soon as (s)he is hungry, without delay to hide away

I share with you now the letter I sent to (the principal), because in reading it I hope to convince you that by enacting a pro-breastfeeding policy, you are not only deferring to the law, you are also doing what is morally right.
(insert Letter to Principal here)
Thank you for your time, and I look forward to your reply.

Krisdee Donmoyer

After the Letter

My husband Adam and I met with the principal five days after I emailed her my letter.  By that time I was exhausted by all of the stress, and the time and focus I'd put into the issue.  I was also extremely anxious every time I was at the school - afraid that my baby would need to eat, and I would risk another complaint to feed him wherever we were, or choose to go to the private conference room and feel complicit in this violation of our right.

Adam had found this thread on a listserv for Dallas moms, the resolution of which is here. A mother was essentially banned from the school, except the office, for breastfeeding, and eventually she was allowed back.  But I was very anxious about our meeting, worried my authorization to be on campus might be revoked.  Several friends were encouraging, optimistic that there would be an apology.  I was less hopeful, and besides, by the time we met, I wanted to address the issue at the district level, not just in my school.

The principal maintained that the lobby is an inappropriate place for nursing, and that she would have to ask me to move again if I did not use the conference room.  She had spoken to the district's legal adviser and he'd reassured her.  I told her that I didn't plan to use the conference room, and that I intended to urge the district to employ a policy that reflects the law and affords nursing mothers the respect they deserve.  I left feeling we'd agreed to disagree, and ready to move on to the next step.

Policy Inquiry

The day after I was shamed for feeding my baby, I tried to find out if the district had a policy.  A search for "Breastfeeding AISD" yielded that the district observes National Breastfeeding Month - but I guess that's in August, mostly before kids start school...

I left an un-returned voice mail for someone in Health Services, and emailed the superintendent's office:

I would like to know if AISD has a policy regarding breastfeeding parents on school campuses.  Breastfeeding is protected by law (Sec. 165.002.  RIGHT TO BREAST-FEED.  A mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be.) yet parents of students complain on occasion and I have known principals to side with those parents rather than the legally protected parent.  If there is a policy, what is it and is it a written policy?  And where are parents authorized to be in a school?  Thank you for the information.

Eight days later, the response:

"Dear Ms. Donmoyer,

Yes. AISD employs a policy, DEA (LEGAL), embodied in State statute, regarding breaks for nursing mothers.  The policy itself addresses the rights of employees to express breast milk for one year after a child's birth, and further ensures that the District provide a location, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view from intrusion from coworkers and the public for such purpose. This, and other policies regarding parental rights as to their children and student privacy rights, have established a long-standing practice in AISD to provide a location, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view by others, to allow a parent the right to breast feed on campus, if necessary.  The Campus Principal is vested with the discretion to identify a suitable location on campus for such activity.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as the District seeks to balance the interests of many stakeholders on this and numerous other issues affecting schools."

The thing is, the Fair Labor Standards Act that ensures a private room is provided for lactation has virtually nothing to do with Texas Health and Safety Code 165.002, short of the fact that they both relate to breastfeeding. This practice may be wrapped up in the guise of legality, but I don't think it could fool anyone.  It's a violation twice, of a right, and of the law intended to ensure that right.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Letter to the Principal

The following is the letter that I spent a week writing to the principal.  
I have spent the better part of the past seven years breastfeeding.  Throughout those years, I have wondered now and again if someone might someday say something negative to me for nursing in public.  Many women wonder if they will encounter this.  You hear about it from friends or read about it in blogs or magazines.  You know it happens to people.  Some of us hope it will happen to us, because we're lactivists and we will either use it as an opportunity to educate or relish telling someone off, on behalf of all the breastfeeding moms and babies out there.  Some of us wonder how we'll react - whether we'll rise to the occasion or wither.  Some of us live in fear of it, to the degree that we cover our babies under blankets or nurse only in our cars or in restroom stalls.  Or we just don't leave the house.  Or we just don't breastfeed at all.

Seven years.  I do not breastfeed on public toilets.  I have nursed my children walking through Costco pushing my huge cart with one hand.  I have nursed at playgroups, restaurants, museums, stores, the dentist, and the hair salon.  I've walked all of Disneyland nursing my babies.  I've breastfed between two large men - strangers to me - on an airplane.  I've breastfed at parks, festivals, indoor play gyms, and swimming pools.  No one - no one - has ever said anything negative to me in all those years, in any of the public places I have breastfed my kids.  Until now.

I do not recall your exact words.  I don't know for certain that you didn't ask me to go to your conference room.  But I know it did not feel like a question, or even a suggestion.   And it certainly did not feel like an offer.  It felt like a demand, and an accusation.  I felt as though I was being addressed as a child who had done something wrong.  A child who made you angry, and should feel ashamed.

I don't know what your perception of me was during our exchange.  I tried to be civil.  I held my tongue, knowing that it would be best to take time to cool down before addressing your concern.

I was one of the women who wondered if I might wither if confronted.  As angry as I was, I know if I had been anywhere else, I would have reacted much differently.  But this is the school where my oldest son is in second grade and my three-year-old is in speech therapy.  The school where I have spent countless hours as a volunteer, tutoring for Stampeding Readers, pulling books from the literacy library.  The school where I am a room mom and a co-chair of the silent auction.  This is the school my breastfed baby will attend in five or six years.  I'll have children in this school until 2023.

So I held my tongue in the moment.  I did not come home and mobilize to stage a nurse-in.  I did not alert the media.  But I began the rough draft of this letter, which is my diplomatic way of communicating to you that I will not require your conference room.  I will not prioritize anyone's comfort over my baby's.  I will feed him wherever I am whenever he is hungry.  It's called nursing on demand, and it is protected by law.

Sec. 165.002.  RIGHT TO BREAST-FEED.  A mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be.

I do not know anything about your knowledge of the benefits of breastfeeding, your personal experience with it, or your professional experience with other breastfeeding mothers.  I can only guess that you may have believed you were offering me adequate support while avoiding discomfort that could be felt by other parents.  After all, breasts are over-sexualized in our culture, and many people have difficulty with the notion that their primary function is to nurture our offspring.  I can sympathize with your position, if not with theirs.  And while they may feel they have a right to demand that their children not be exposed to breastfeeding, I also have a right.  My child has a right.  And our right is the one that has legal protection.

I am a modest breastfeeder.  I guarantee that I will not pop my breast out of a tank top in the cafeteria one day.  I will always, as I did that day, carefully arrange my shirt around my child's face.  Even as he grows into a squirmy toddler who pulls at my shirt or becomes distracted while nursing, I will make every effort to keep my breasts under cover.  This is the best I can do to make others comfortable.  But I will not otherwise prioritize the comfort of others over the comfort of my baby, or even over my own comfort.  And I am not comfortable hiding away to feed my baby as though I am doing something shameful.

Six years ago I took my oldest son to a playgroup.  He had just learned to walk, but I knew I wanted to breastfeed for at least another year.  The World Health Organization recommends that babies be breastfed for at least two years, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby want to continue.  But once he was officially a toddler, stumbling about at 12 months, I was nervous about breastfeeding him in public.  We left the playgroup to nurse in the car.  Later I called on a friend, another attachment parenting mom who was breastfeeding her two-year-old.  She said that she feels an obligation to breastfeed in public, to normalize it.  And I knew I would no longer be putting my little boy off until we were in a car.  It became my obligation to help normalize breastfeeding.

But what if I were not experienced, unashamed, a lactivist?  What if that short exchange we had, those eight or so sentences we spoke to each other, had made me decide that I could not breastfeed my baby at school, or anywhere public, where I might again be shamed by confrontation?  What if as a result I had spent most of my time at home and the isolation brought on postpartum depression?  Or what if I began to use formula when I went out, and my supply became inadequate, and in a matter of weeks my child was no longer able to benefit from my breastmilk?  That is the risk that was taken.  Because a request alone is enough to discourage public breastfeeding.

Do you know that breastfed children have higher grades and higher IQs, and are less likely to get sick, than formula-fed babies?  Particularly advantageous benefits as far as schools should be concerned.  Since I have children regularly bringing home germs from school, I'm thankful that my breast-milk contains antibodies to the germs I'm exposed to, protecting my baby from a lot of what he might otherwise contract. Breastfed babies have less constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting, and fewer and less serious respiratory illnesses.  When they do get sick, they are less likely to become dehydrated.  Breastfed babies have fewer problems with reflux and eczema, are less likely to need braces, and have better vision.  They are less likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  They also have a decreased risk of developing:
juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
acute appendicitis
multiple sclerosis
heart disease
sleep apnea
ear infections
type 1 diabetes
ulcerative colitis
Crohn's disease
urinary tract infections
e. coli infections
and childhood cancers.
More information can be found on the website, and at there are 101 benefits listed with references cited.

No one can claim a right to deny someone else's baby these benefits - there are just too many, and they are of too much importance, for anyone's desires to outweigh them.

Likewise, a parent who does not want his or her child to see a baby being fed as nature designed, does not outweigh my right to less postpartum anxiety and depression, and a decreased risk of osteoporosis, uterine and ovarian cancer, and breast cancer, which killed my mother when she was 43 years old.

For all of these reasons and more, breastfeeding is recommended by, among others:
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Dietetic Association
The American Academy of Family Physicians
Association of Women’s Health
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
United States Department of Health & Human Services
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Links to position papers and so much more can be found at .  The CDC published "The CDC Guide to Breastfeeding Interventions," ( in which they address the need for interventions to increase public acceptance.  Among other things, it highlights curriculum developed by New York state in which education regarding breastfeeding is integrated into other subjects for K-12 (  But it's difficult for mothers to follow the recommendations of so many educated professionals when we are not made to feel that breastfeeding is socially acceptable.  And when a woman is asked to nurse in private, whether intentional or not, the message is that it is not OK to nurse in public.

You are in a unique position as a principal.  You are the authority figure of authority figures at school.  You have a great impact on the lives of our children, one that I trust will continue to be positive for my own children, because you are a professional and their success is important to you. In a school so large, you are likely to have another exchange regarding breastfeeding in the future, and your words will carry a lot of weight.  I hope that through sharing my perspective, you realize that even just asking a mother not to nurse in public risks ultimately damaging that woman and child's future breastfeeding.  I don't know how you came to know that I was discreetly breastfeeding my 12-week-old in the virtually empty lobby.  I can only imagine that someone complained.  You could see more of a Disney princess's breast than I show of mine when I am breastfeeding, but presumably someone complained, or for some reason mentioned it to you.  If that should happen again, I hope that instead of addressing other mothers in this way, you will consider informing anyone who complains that she is protected by law.  As for me, if ever again you receive a complaint, I would happily and diplomatically field that myself.  I would also happily type up a flyer or make a presentation at a meeting to educate people on the benefits of breastfeeding and the influence of barriers such as requesting privacy of a publicly breastfeeding mother, if you would permit it.  But regardless of the impact of this letter, I need you to understand that I will be breastfeeding my son whenever he needs to be fed.

Krisdee Donmoyer

This letter was going to be published in a newsletter to serve as a resource for other mothers who are harassed when nursing in public.  I reserve no rights.  Any part of this letter MAY be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means.  If it can help you to educate and persuade someone, feel free to tailor it to your situation as needed and use it.  (This permission applies only to this letter.)