Breastfeeding Mom Ousted From Women's Gym to 'Spare Children' Is Ridiculous


breastfeeding on trainOver the last week, breastfeeding mom Penny Schlanser's life has gone from normal to crazy. After being a member of Spring, Texas's Pure Fitness for Women gym for about 10 days, she had the shock of a lifetime. Her baby began to experience separation anxiety while he was in the provided daycare area that allows all kids up to 12 years old.

Penny nursed her baby in the daycare area with the okay from the attendants. Unfortunately, a run-in with the owner as she discreetly nursed before a long car ride home one day resulted in an enormous fiasco, spurning radio broadcasts, deleted Facebook and locked Twitter pages, news broadcasts ... and an overall tone that "children should not be 'exposed' to that sort of thing."

Frankly, it's because of this exact sort of situation that kids need to be exposed to breastfeeding.

The owner's repeated claim was that "boys even as old as 12" were potentially present, and therefore could quite possibly ... well, see breastfeeding ... and that was disturbing to her. Honestly, that's exactly the problem -- that we see children seeing breastfeeding as a problem.

Dionna Ford of Code Name: Mama shares her contrasting experiences in a culture where breastfeeding is a normally viewed thing, and ours where it's not:

On a train in Denmark, a group of 15+ teenage boys boarded while I was nursing my son. One sat right next to me and offered a kind smile. Another boy noticed and looked for a second but didn't behave awkwardly at all. The rest likely glanced my way at some point (they were only a few feet away from me), but none acted like it was a big deal.

... in the Northeast US, I have had several experiences with nursing around groups of pre-teen and teenage boys. What has happened every time was this: one boy noticed, and immediately a storm of whispers, giggles, double-takes, stares, and/or shyly averted eyes commenced. "Her boob is out! Pass it on!"

I personally have had an adult man RUN from me, tripping over himself, so embarrassed that he couldn't believe he saw me nursing ... with a cover ... and then I've had adult men next to me on a plane who thanked me because "the only quiet babies I've been next to on planes are breastfeeding ones, which was my wife's favorite thing about nursing."

Sesame Street has actually had not one, but two features of breastfeeding women on the show -- certainly Sesame Street is not perverse, "exposing" children to something obscene? Well, you decide:

Buffy and Maria, corrupting small children, or merely feeding their babies? If you ask some people, you'd think they were passing out porno magazines. What does hiding breastfeeding accomplish? As one mom says, "Hiding this normal, healthy process from children only serves to perpetuate the slowly fading disinformation and misunderstanding regarding breastfeeding which exists today."

Back to Penny Schlanser and the gym, which not surprisingly, is facing a large nurse in. While I can only assume seeing breastfeeding isn't a normal part of the owner's life, I can safely say that treating it as normal and regular "exposure" without batting an eyelash is what will help prevent these types of attitudes from continuing in future generations. "Won't someone think of the CHILDREN?!" Well, that's the thing -- we are. One thing not considered was what the owner "exposed" present children to by attacking a mother for breastfeeding. All I can hope is rather than learning that Schlanser did something wrong, they had someone to educate them and let them know that she was merely feeding her baby. That's what children stand to learn from "exposure" -- they learn from the surrounding attitude that it's either something normal and then they stop caring, or they learn that it's SHOCKING and therefore, well, will be shocked.

Do you think seeing breastfeeding has a negative impact on children?


Image via Rachel Coleman Finch/Flickr

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mommix4 mommix4

If this mom was covered appropriately while nursing I see nothing wrong with her nursing around other children. I have a 13yr old ds and yes he may giggle or feel awkward if he catches a glimpse of flesh he won't be scarred for life. I'm not bf fanatic but this lady did nothing wrong. I don't think bf in public is wrong I just don't like it when women pull off their whole shirt and bra and bf half naked. We had a few women do that at church. I'm not exaggerating they were completely topless with one breast hanging there and the baby on the other. Thankfully this isn't the norm for bf moms

Katy Khan

We need TOUGH laws to protect women and babies, this is beyond absurd. What does it do to have a federal law that says "anywhere a woman can be, her baby can be" and thus she can nurse....when there is no way to actually enforce the law. Anyone operating a daycare should be required by law to allow mothers to nurse their babies in the daycare.

Aislynn Locklear

Dear mommix4;

Nowhere is it required for a mother to cover every inch of skin. Does your son watch cable?


Disturbed breastfeeder

Samantha Putnam

Where the heck are you people seeing these women who "pull off their whole shirt and bra?" Who are these women? Because I don't think I've ever seen one...

nonmember avatar Robyn Lancaster

Texas runs through my blood and YES my breast milk and I have to say that I'm sadden by the 2 recent cases of discrimination against breastfeeding mothers/babes in my beautiful home state....We've come so far yet ignorance is running a mock!

Kayla Still

NO, like mommix4 said the woman was sitting there with EVERYTHING hanging out, so why is it such a bad thing for children to see mother DISCREETLY bfing in public? sounds like the owner has a problem themselves with bfing, i say NURSE IN AWAY!!!!!

Monica Aschenbeck Mayeaux

I have seen uncovered nursing moms in all kinds of settings and I have never seen one that was exposing herself.  When I had to nurse my son at the gym, I had to unhook my bra because it was not a nursing bra but at no point could people see my breasts.  How pathetically puritanical is our society when a mother cannot feed her child because children might see?  If more children saw moms nursing their babies it would become more normal and no one would think twice about it.

Julie Wagner

This is the very reason the Holistic Moms Network created the video "Nursing Our Future" - to help show breastfeeding as a normal, every day activity that you might see in famous places just as you might see in your local coffee house - or childcare part of a gym! Actress Mayim Bialik, from The Big Bang Theory, is in it too!

Steph Jay

Thanks to the media its all a money game w.formula let give our babies Milk that come from a Cow and thats ok but if a baby has Human Milk in public that is soo wrong....

I could not have said it better myself!! if this comment had a "like" button I would be a fan
" Aislynn Locklear
Facebook comment from Aislynn Locklear
on Aug 16, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Dear mommix4;

Nowhere is it required for a mother to cover every inch of skin. Does your son watch cable?


Disturbed breastfeeder "

Beths... Bethsunshine

No, quite the opposite actually!! I think children NEED to be exposed to breastfeeding so they have a healthy, normal view of what breasts are actually for! My boys see WAY more skin on teenaged girls running around half naked at the mall with their shorts riding up their crack and their boobs hanging out than they EVER have seeing a nursing mother. My best friend had a baby last December and she nurses at my house all the time. She's really paranoid about covering up and I always tell her not to worry about it. My boys don't think anything about it. They know she's feeding the baby and they go about their business. It's only a big deal if you MAKE it a big deal

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