Saturday, June 26, 2010

Breastfeeding and the LDS Church

Since I started sharing my Red Robin incident I've received a few comments about my "modesty issues". It's been said before, but I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church. Modesty is a big thing for us. The guideline is to wear clothes that cover your legs to the knee, cover your midriff, cover your shoulders, and have a modest neckline.

Some have felt that because my breast was showing while nursing meant I was breaking the LDS Church's standard of modesty, meaning it was somewhat sinful.

So this is what the LDS Church has to say on the matter:

"Mother’s Milk Is Usually Best for Small Babies

Our Heavenly Father made the mother’s body so it could produce milk. This milk is made especially for human babies to drink. It is better for babies than milk from animals. The first fluid that comes from the mother’s breasts after a new baby is born is also important. It contains substances that help protect the baby from diseases for the first few months.

Sometimes for health reasons a mother cannot breast-feed her baby. Milk from cows or goats or prepared formulas can also be used, but the mother must take greater care to keep the milk sanitary. A mother should breast-feed her baby if she can. The mother’s diet influences how much milk she produces for the baby. A mother who eats enough good foods and drinks enough water can usually produce enough milk for her baby."

Annnd, that's it. The LDS Church has taken no official stance on HOW breastfeeding is to take place, just that they encourage that it happens.

Now the LDS Church has a lot of wonderful things to say about modesty, but I want to focus on what it says about situational modesty (found at the bottom of the link):

“Are Latter-day Saint girls exempt from standards of modesty in dress while they are performing in marching or cheerleading groups?”

Marilyn Arnold, “Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, Feb. 1975, 10

Answer/Sister Marilyn Arnold

My first reaction to this question is to ask another question: Are we, can we ever be, exempt from Church standards, whether in dress or behavior? Can we expect the Lord to bend his principles or put them aside for certain occasions? I think the answer has to be no to the general question, but there are some aspects of the specific question about marchers and cheerleaders that we need to examine. For example, does adherence to LDS standards mean a girl in a marching group has to wear a knee-length costume? Perhaps the answer to this question can also be suggested by another question: Should an LDS girl wear a knee-length bathing suit when she goes swimming or a turtleneck gown to a dance? Is a ballerina immodest if she performs in standard ballet attire? Modesty in dress is at least partly dependent upon the appropriateness of a particular costume to the occasion or activity for which it is worn. What is appropriate and modest for one activity may not be for another. We have to exercise judgment and make every effort to obey the spirit of the law.

A shorter-than-knee-length skirt can be appropriate for a marching group or for cheerleaders. But even so, the costume need not be immodest. In fact, a Latter-day Saint girl who is a member of such a group can be a strong voice in the choice of costumes. And she should speak up, insisting that the costume be in good taste, appropriate, and modest. Marchers and cheerleaders are in a very real sense on display. I am sure there is no relationship between the brevity of costume and the excellence of a performance. If her performing group, over her protests, selects an immodest (and hence, inappropriate) costume, a Latter-day Saint girl should most certainly choose in favor of the eternal principle."

You can have situational modesty during swimming, professional dancing and sports, doctor's visits, and birth.


The following is MY opinion based of the information given to me. It is NOT the view of the LDS Church. If you have any fault with what I'm going to say it is MY fault and not the Church's.


I feel that breastfeeding in public is a situational modesty issue. I don't walk around with my breasts hanging out, but if my baby is hungry I will feed my baby the best way I see fit. I will strive to be discreet in most situations but if I cannot be 100% discreet I don't worry about it because of the situation I'm in.

So, let's talk about this. How do other LDS members feel? How do other of not our faith feel?

All of those LDS members who will be posting, please remember to NOT talk about things that we're not supposed to talk about. If you bring up sacred things I will delete your comment. This discussion can be had without bringing up those things we hold sacred.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Breastfeeding at Red Robin, aka OMG *Now With Update*

Okay, I'm starting at the beginning, because stories need back stories to make sense.

I am visiting my family in the Tri-City, Washington area. It was my little brother's graduation so I decided now would be a great time to come. The Hubby had to work so he stayed home and pulled in some overtime. On Father's Day The Hubby drove up for a visit, but he left Wednesday morning in order to be home in time for his shift that night. So Tuesday night we embarked to the only Red Robin in the area, situated in Kennewick, for a date.

Of course, it was a three-way date, considering that Doozer is too young to go very long without eating. Red Robin had been one of our favorite date spots, but I hadn't had Red Robin burger in a long time due to the fact their original Boca patties contained cheese. I was very excited for our date since Red Robin has recently started offering Vegan Boca Patties.

We ordered our food and started enjoying a toddler-free evening. Doozer became fussy near the beginning of our date. It was her tired/hungry fuss, which always turns into a full blown scream if not attended to quickly.

I started to nurse her my usual way, by lifting up the hem of my shirt. This time it made me very uncomfortable to do so, because:

1) We were seated at a booth, so in order for Doozer to be in the right position she had to be above the table, and
2) I was wearing a tighter knit shirt.

The combination of the nursing position and shirt design made it so my shirt was pulled way up, exposing most of my midriff and part of my back. That made me feel very undressed, so I opted to instead breastfeed with my breast pulled over my neckline, somewhat like this picture, but I had sleeves on my shirt and my neckline wasn't so low. My shirt, when normally viewed, showed no cleavage. Doozer often had her arm covering the top of my breast, and the way she was position covered even more skin. I did not use a blanket or other cover. I have reasons for this:

1) I feel it's disrespectful for the little person at my breast to cover them up in a hot, stuffy blanket so others, particularly mature adults, can feel more comfortable.
2) I know people will not become accustomed to breastfeeding unless they see it, so I feel I'm doing my part to spread awareness and eventually acceptance.
3) In Doozer's particular case she has had RSV plus two more colds. Her breathing is not always the best and when she nurses I become awfully worried sometimes that she's not getting enough oxygen since her nose is so stuffed up. I'm not going to add to the problem by throwing a blanket over her head or have cloth too close to her nose.

About halfway through our meal, after the waitress had suggested another basket of fries, the manager came up. As soon as I had seen him my heart sank. Here was the conversation:

Manager: I'm very sorry to be bothering you, but do you have a blanket you can use to cover up? We've had a complaint. The is a family restaurant and so it would be nice if you could cover up.

Me: No.

The Hubby: It's my wife's legal right to nurse wherever she wants to.

Manager: I understand that, but this is a family restaurant. I have a shirt in the back.

The Hubby: (dumbfounded look)

Me: No, in that case, we'll just leave.

Manager: I'm really sorry, but this is a family restaurant.

The Hubby: Can we get some boxes for our food?

Manager: Of course. I'm sorry.

He didn't give any alternative to covering up, and his demeanor was such that I felt his next question would be one asking us to leave, hence why I offered to leave. I was so angry and embarrassed I didn't get the manager's name. He brought out boxes, we eventually got our check, and we left. The rest of our date consisted of hanging out in my sister's basement watching "Glee" and complaining.

Wednesday Morning, after The Hubby left for his four-hour-drive home I hopped on my Facebook account and updated my status to this (names have been changed to my blog nicknames):

"Went on a date last night with [The Hubby] to the Kennewick Red Robin. Left after the manager came up to us and asked us if we had a blanket I could use while I was nursing [Doozer]. [The Hubby] said it was our legal right to nurse anywhere we wanted, but I guess the manager didn't get that memo."

Well, the number of comments I received far exceeded my expectations. As of right now it's up to 145 comments. My good friend looked up Washington State's specific law on breastfeeding and found this:

"Breastfeeding mothers are protected under state anti-discrimination law, and can breastfeed their children in public places such as restaurants, pools, theaters,
government buildings, museums, libraries, busses, or parks. No one, including business owners or employees can tell a mother to leave, go to the restroom, or cover the child."

Here is article talking about the civil rights law. The article also discusses other civil rights laws passed in Washington. Here is the law about who cannot be discriminated against in public places. Here is a good question-and-answer about public breastfeeding for establishments and mothers.

After hearing about the law and reading all the comments posted by my friends I realized I needed to follow up with Red Robin. First I contacted the Kennewick Red Robin to get the name of the manager (later it turned out that through an innocent mistake they gave me the wrong name). Then I called their Guest Relations and left a message. They called me back and told me they were going the pass the matter onto their Regional Manager. They also told me my friend had called to tell them telling them how upset she was at how I was treated. There was some confusion since my friend and I have the same last name, they thought she was family.

A few hours later the Regional manager called me. The conversation went like this:

Regional Manager: I am so so sorry this happened to you! Can you tell me what happened?

Me: My husband and I decided to go on a date with our 3.5 month old daughter. We were excited to go to Red Robin because you now have the vegan Boca patties. While we were there I was feeding my daughter without a cover. The manager came over and asked me to cover up and that someone had complained. My husband told him it was my legal right to nurse. The manager said that was right, but could I still cover up, he had a shirt I could use. We said no, we'll just leave, and we did.

RM: I'm so sorry that happened. I know the manager in question and he's going to be so embarrassed. I'm sure he didn't know your rights.

Me: I understand, but my husband told him it was my legal right.

RM: Well, I'm sure that because he had gotten complaints. We will tell him it's the law that you can breastfeed. I'm really sorry this happened. But it's hard because it is a family restaurant. And we can't expect all the managers to know all the laws about breastfeeding.

Me: I understand that, but it's the law.

RM: I know, but there are children that go to Red Robin and it's now summer vacation so a lot of families are going.

Me: I understand your position, some people are uncomfortable seeing breastfeeding in public, but the law says I can do it anywhere, anytime and any way I want to and business owners or employees cannot ask me to move, leave, or cover up.

RM: I know, and we are going to inform the manager about your rights. But if there are three tables that complain, how can we shun those three tables to make one family happy? This is a family restaurant and we need to make it friendly for families.

Me: I understand your position, but it's the law that I can breastfeed uncovered.

RM: Well, we're really sorry about what happened and we want to make it up to you and we want you to come back and have a better experience. We want to send you a gift card.

The rest of the conversation consisted of the manager getting my information to send me a gift card. She also asked me about my friend who called in. She thought we were family somehow. I told her we were good friends who happened to marry men with the same last name. These are the problems I had with this apology:

1) Although I do not doubt the fact she was sorry this happened she still conveyed the feeling that she felt the Kennewick manager was in the right.
2) She did not fully expect her managers to know the local laws.
3) She told me only the single manager was going to be informed, not all of them.
4) She did not assure me that this wouldn't happen in the future. In fact, quite the opposite, I got the feeling that it WOULD happen again if other patrons complained about a breastfeeding mother.

So where I am now is considering a nurse-in at Red Robin. Not a screaming, ranting, sign-waving, every-breast-uncovered nurse-in. Rather I would like it to be a peaceful, thought-provoking experience where mothers come and nurse however they are comfortable whenever their babies need it. I want to show not only Red Robin but their patrons that breastfeeding is normal and not offensive. I want them to see it so they get used to it. Maybe it'll give the Red Robin staff a chance to use their new PR skills.


Update 06/24/2010: I got a call from Liz at corporate at 10:00am today. It was a very positive phone call! Here's the conversation that took place:

Liz: First off, is now a good time to talk? I know you're a mom and really busy.

Me: Yeah, now is good, my littlest is asleep and the older one is watching TV with his uncle.

Liz: Okay. We are so sorry about what happened the other day. There's a lot of information about what happened and I wanted to hear it from you. Is that okay?

Me: Yes, that's just fine. Tuesday night I went on a date with my husband. We had my daughter with me and she got hungry so I started to feed her. At first I was pulling my shirt up but since we were at a booth it was really awkward and I was really exposed. Being in that position made my shirt be in my armpits. So I decided to bring my breast over my neckline and nurse that way. Then the manager came up to us and said somebody had complained and asked us to cover up. I said no and my husband informed the manager that it was my legal right to nurse wherever I wanted. The manager said he understood that but this was a family restaurant and he had a shirt I could use to cover up. I said we would just leave.

Yesterday I posted about my experience on Facebook and started talking to my friends about it. One of my friends found out the law in Washington is that managers, business owners, or employees cannot ask a woman to leave, stop breastfeeding, or cover up. I knew that my right to breastfeed was protected but I thought that a manager could ask you to leave. Once I learned the full extent of the law I contacted Red Robin's Guest Services about it. I got a call from Guest Services telling me they would have the Regional Director call me.

She did call me, and I'm sorry, but I don't remember her name. She told me she was sorry, and that she was going to talk to the manager who had talked to me, and that they were sending me a gift card. However, she also said that it's not really the job of the managers to learn the laws. She also didn't give me any assurance it wouldn't happen again. She said that the managers are supposed to make the majority happy, so if a lot of people complain about a breastfeeding that the manager would probably talk to the breastfeeding mom about covering up. I feel that's not good enough. So, yeah, that's what's been going on.

Liz: Well, I again wanted to say how sorry I am that this happened. I'm a mom who has breastfed and I know how important it is. Moms who are breastfeeding should be able to feed their babies wherever they need to. The manager was in the wrong and we are going to instigate a company wide training to teach about what to do when customers complain about breastfeeding.

Me: I think that sounds like a great idea, that would be wonderful.

Liz: We have training for our managers already to train them on local laws and such, we contract with an independent third party to do our training. We will be sure to make an emphasis on breastfeeding training. We'll start immediately at the Kennewick Red Robin, but I want to let you know it's going to take a little bit of time to implement it nationwide.

Me: I understand, it's a big company. I'm glad you're implementing this.

Liz: Now, I want to make it very clear that I'm not making excuses, but it's a very sticky situation for our managers to deal with. It's hard to make everyone happy. Do you have any ideas on how to help?

Me: Yes, I do. First of all, there is a website for Washington breastfeeding laws that offers little cards you can print out. Mothers can use them to inform others about their rights and managers can give them to customers who complain to explain the laws. That way your managers can say, "I'm sorry, but it's the law," without the customer getting mad at the restaurant.

Liz: That's a great idea!

Me: They also have fliers you can print up and display in a prominent place of your restaurant informing customers of the law. Also, I know that breastfeeding laws are different everywhere. In Washington mother's rights are protected but in Idaho I know managers can ask you to leave. It would be really nice if Red Robin was a breastfeeding friendly restaurant everywhere, regardless of the laws.

Liz: That would be good. Do you have the website for those cards? That's a great idea.

Me: I don't know it off the top of my head, but I can email it to you. Do you want me to send it to guest relations or do you have a specific address you want me to use?

Liz: You can use guest relations, but here's my email address, it's really easy. [Email address]. If you have any ideas you can send them here, we want to hear them and we want to have an open dialouge.

Me: I can't think of anything else right now, but I'll ask my friends if they have any ideas. I wanted to say that I really appreciate this phone call, thank you for doing all this.

Liz: My pleasure, we just want everyone to be happy.


So overall I'm really happy with how Red Robin is handling this now. I don't think I'll organize an official nurse-in but I think it would be a good idea for mothers to go to Red Robin and nurse. Also, let them know how you feel about how you want them to uphold a mother's right to breastfeed, whether it's state law or not.

If they don't do what they say they're going to then we can take this further. But as of right now I'm feeling pretty happy.

Updated again: I wanted to add a link to the web page that has the little cards to pass out. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Everybody, elimination communication is like crack cookies. Oh so sweet and addictive. We've been working on EC with Doozer for about a week now and it's amazing. We started with holding her over the sink during a diaper change and making our cue sound for pee, psssss. Every once in a while she would pee and we would cheer! Sometimes she would poop, then we would make the cue sound for that, a grunt. At night after BuggaBoo went to bed I would hold a diaperless Doozer on my lap on a towel and make the appropriate cue sounds for whatever elimination she did.

The Hubby in now in on the act since it's his weekend and he takes great pleasure in holding her over the sink to try to potty. I enjoy taking her outside to fertilize our grapes. And, guys, she's pottying like a champ! I feel like my baby is a genius. She pees when we cue, she poops when we cue, and...she's holding everything in until we can potty her. We are catching about 75% of her pees and 85% of her poos. Who says babies don't have control over their elimination muscles?

She's starting being this super baby yesterday. And I have found, so far, that EC is no harder than doing cloth diapers but waaaaaay more fun. And cloth diapers are already fun to use. So elimination communication must be 100 times cooler than disposable diapers. It's a scientific formula.

Mostly EC is just a slight change in thinking. During the day I normally thought, "She's gone long enough that she's probably wet/soiled again." Now I've shifted my remembering to, "She's gone long enough she probably has to potty again." That's it. Same amount of brain power, all that's changed is the time frame. Doozer is also talking to us when she needs to go. The cry that she used to reserve for wet diapers has become her "need to potty" cry. How smart is that?

And we've covered this ground during a time where Doozer has been extremely uncomfortable with an icky cough/snotty nose/fever virus AND cutting two teeth within a week. I'm sure when she's feeling better our communication will be smoother.

So that's where we're standing with EC. It's already become such a part of our routine that I'm sure that I can still take on another project while continuing with EC. And I'm giving all of you my full endorsement that ya'll should try this with your next baby. Because it is so addictive.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Quick Update

BuggaBoo's test for whooping cough came back negative. Yay! So now it's just time to ride out the storm. Hopefully this is it for a while.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Caution: Complaining Ahead, Also Some Controversy

BuggaBoo is sick. Again. I don't know what it is but he's never been this sick this often. Is it because he's a more social creature now and all of his friends get sick? It's a mystery to me.

I wouldn't worry so much about BuggaBoo being sick if it weren't for the fact that I have a 3-month-old Doozer in the house. And I think she's getting what BuggaBoo has. Again. What do I think BuggaBoo has?

Whooping cough.

If you follow the above link and read the first two paragraphs those are exactly the symptoms BuggaBoo has had to date. Tired, wet productive cough, clear runny nose, lack of appetite, low grade fever, sneezing.

Doozer has had a cough (not as wet or as often as BuggaBoo's), sneezing, and today she's been not very hungry, had a low fever (99.5*) and SO tired. She has taken two loooooong naps and they weren't in the wrap, they were on the couch. She hardly ever naps on the couch. When she does nap on the couch it's never for more than 10-15 minutes. These naps have been hours long.

But here's the curve ball: Doozer just cut her first tooth two days ago. She's in the process of cutting her second. All the symptoms I listed for her are symptoms of teething.

We went to the pediatrician yesterday and got BuggaBoo swabbed to send in a test for whooping cough.

What's that? Are you asking, "Isn't he vaccinated for whooping cough?" Uh, no. Hoo boy. I'm not going into our entire vaccination philosophy right now, but to sum it up we are going to selectively vaccinate on a delayed schedule. Very, very delayed. One major reason is The Hubby has Type I diabetes and there is a strong correlation between vaccinations and the development of Type I diabetes. There is more to it than that but we have basically looked at the risks of vaccinating and the risks and odds of catching those diseases and have decided we can deal with the disease odds better.

The Hubby and I talked about this. If we could go back in time we would probably make the same decision as we have already, to not vaccinate for whooping cough. Heck, we don't even know if that's what we're dealing with. But my mommy senses have been tingling for over a week now that what I'm dealing with is whooping cough, and that was before BuggaBoo was exhibiting any major symptoms. I hope in this case my mommy senses are wrong.

And here's the major whine of it all: I'm feeling like my body is letting my children down. I'm breastfeeding both of them, aren't I supposed to be protecting them through my breastmilk? Isn't my body supposed to protect their little bodies? I know the breast can create antibodies for specific diseases after an infected child nurses and passes the pathogen to the breast, so why didn't it work? Why are my kids sick? Why has Doozer been SO sick for SO long? Has any other mother felt this way?

I just don't know.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Me wearing BuggaBoo at the end of Doozer's pregnancy.

I'm a Winner!

Darling Petunia gave me a prize! It's a mini-stash of vintage sewing notions. But I feel the even better prize is she said she likes my blog. Yay! I love warm fuzzies. So, thank you, Petunia. for making my day.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

It May Be Jumping the Gun...

But I caught my first Doozer pee today. She had just woken up for a nap and started nursing when I noticed she hadn't wet her diaper yet. I know babies usually pee right after waking up, so I decided to try a little EC and catch her pee. Low and behold it worked! I couldn't believe it, and she was loving it.

So although EC may not be my official new project I can dabble in it, right?