Moanalua mom fights for right to breastfeed in public

Published: Feb. 20, 2013 at 3:26 AM HST|Updated: Feb. 20, 2013 at 5:03 AM HST
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Brittany Baldwin
Brittany Baldwin
Esme Infante Nii
Esme Infante Nii
Baldwin's son Andrew
Baldwin's son Andrew

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Moanalua mother is fighting for her right to breastfeed in public. Brittany Baldwin said she was nursing her baby in the downtown Macy's store on Tuesday, when a security guard told her to stop.

Baldwin breastfeeds little Andrew six to ten times a day. She tried covering up before, but the 11-month old became too hot.

"He's very, very healthy. It's best for him and he enjoys it. He likes the bonding," explained Baldwin.

Baldwin said she was looking at sheets when her son became hungry. According to her, he had latched on for about a minute when a female security guard told her to stop because it was making other customers uncomfortable. Baldwin said when she finally spoke to a manager, she was unhappy with his response.

"He said that she handled the situation improperly and that she should have offered me a dressing room or somewhere to accommodate me," said Baldwin.

Hawaii News Now spoke to the Macy's manager involved, but he directed us to a corporate member for a comment. We reached out to that representative, but didn't receive a response.

The battle over public breastfeeding is a hot topic for the "Moms In Hawaii" community. The head of the group says 45 states, including Hawaii, have specific laws that protect nursing in public.

"It's illegal to deny a woman the right to breastfeed when she needs to and where she needs to, and actually, it's really about when and where the keiki need to breastfeed," said Esme Infante Nii, editor of Moms in Hawaii.

Hawaii moms took part in a nationwide nurse-in in 2011. They breastfed their babies to show support for a Houston mother who claimed Target employees harassed her when she was nursing in a mainland store.

"I think that society is still trying to wrap its arms around the idea that a mom is doing what's best for her child when she's breastfeeding. Not everybody understands that yet," said Nii.

Since Baldwin's husband is in the military, she has breastfed in public in several states. She said this is the first time anyone has complained.

"I feel like I'm more covered than what I've see at the beaches. I don't have a bikini on. You can't see my midsection," Baldwin said.

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