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Mothers Host ‘Nurse-In’ Protest At Restaurant

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Tabitha Donohue says she was eating lunch at Friendly’s on Monday when a manager asked her to cover her breast or stop breastfeeding her 8-week-old daughter. (Andy Mihail)

NORWICH — On Saturday afternoon,  more than a hundred advocates brought awareness to public breastfeeding after one mother found herself in an uncomfortable situation at a Norwich restaurant.

More than 50 mothers and their spouses packed Friendly’s on West Town Street in Norwich Saturday for a “nurse-in.”

The event was organized after Tabitha Donohue, a mother of an 8-week-old girl, says she was eating lunch at Friendly’s on Monday  when a manager asked her to cover her breast or stop feeding the child because she was making other people in the restaurant feel uncomfortable.

“Management came over and told me to cover it up or stop feeding her,  and I told them I didn’t want to do either of those things,” Donohue said.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Friendly’s Ice Cream, LLC, said a manager “approached the guest to see if there was a better option to accommodate the mother and child as well as other guests dining in the restaurant, who had brought this to the staff’s attention.”

According to state law, no restrictions or limitations may be placed on a mother’s right to breastfeed a child.

The law is enforced by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, which enforces anti-discrimination laws.

“Unfortunately, the manager didn’t know anything about the law,” said Liz Linehan.

Linehan, a mother of three from Cheshire, organized Saturday’s nurse-in after reading about Donohue’s story on Facebook.

“There were a ton of responses saying that nursing moms are just trying to get attention and that we’re vulgar and that nursing is pornographic,” Linehan said.

The support for the mothers at Saturday’s nurse-in was clear.   Not only was the restaurant packed, but other supporters lined up across the street.

A little girl riding in a car driven by her parents presented a note to the crowd.  The note read,  “I am 8 years old. If a baby is hungry, you have to feed it.  My mom fed me. She is the best mom ever.”

“In America, there’s been an over-sexualized culture of the breasts.  We have to remember, breasts are made for feeding babies,” said Linehan.

In a statement released Saturday, Friendly’s Ice Cream, LLC, said, “We are a family restaurant and want all of our guests to be comfortable while dining with us. We honor each state’s laws and welcome all breastfeeding moms and their children. We enjoyed serving all the moms who came into our Norwich restaurant today.

“We will use this as an opportunity to train all of our team members in Norwich, and all of our restaurants, as to how to appropriately accommodate breastfeeding Moms.”

The statement added, “We have a detailed social media policy in place, and will address any employee actions that fell outside of any of our guidelines.”

Many of the women who took part  in the event say it wasn’t an event to expose themselves, but to show those who don’t understand that nursing is natural and can be discreet.

Donohue says it was important  for the message about public breastfeeding to get out.

“I’m really happy that there’s so many people that have a positive outlook on it,” said Donohue.


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  • Ken

    “In America, there’s been an over-sexualized culture of the breasts. We have to remember, breasts are made for feeding babies,” said Linehan.

    And also that they are daddy's funbags as well!! Hey gets to enjoy those marvelous melons too!!

    • Jennifer

      These women are not “nobodies” as you so kindly put it, Vito Danelli. These women are not looking for fame. They want the common courtesy to feed their children naturally as they are allowed by law. Perhaps if you were breastfed you would have more common sense.


    Breasts are secondary sex characteristics, that means you get them at puberty, and the purpose is to attract a mate. Hence, they are sexual FIRST. If they were just for feeding babies, we'd bag up like other animals, just prior to giving birth, and not have breasts after the baby is weaned.

    Yes these women just want attention, or they would be more discreet. Instead they flop out these saggy udders that their baby daddy no longer wants to touch because they allowed themselves to gain 130# during pregnancy a they're "eating for two!". They leave their breasts exposed while "prepping" baby, then burp baby after and all the rest with their breast still exposed, glancing around the whole time DARING someone to look. Yes, everyone IS uncomfortable with that. It's called DECORUM, or maybe just MANNERS. Try it sometime, and no one will give a crap. But then these bints are the same ones that change baby's diaper on the dining surface.

    • Liz

      Biology? Really? That’s your screenname? Puberty happens when the body is ready to procreate. Signs of puberty are attractive to the opposite sex because it means you’ve reached, or are in the process of reaching, sexual maturity. Think Pavlov’s dogs. Breasts are -BIOLOGICALLY speaking – only for feeding babies. They become sexually attractive because it signals the persons body is mature enough to procreate – have sex. Ring ring, there’s that bell again. Please know your science before you claim the name “BIOLOGY”.
      With that being said, I did not gain 130# from being pregnant. I am fit, educated, and exercise good manners. I do not leave my breasts out when nursing. Nor do I challenge someone to say something when I’m nursing. I am discreet, as most nursing moms are. Your blanket statement was obviously born from ignorance.
      And finally, I don’t care what anyone’s personal opinions are, because this is a legal issue. Nursing in public is a protected right under ct general statutes, whether you like it or not. I organized this nurse-in as an educational event to raise awareness of this law. It worked. Friendlys is now creating corporate policy and training of employees so that no nursing mothers rights are infringed. This had nothing to do with 15 minutes of fame, this had to do with affecting change. And we did. The fact that it got local, national and even international attention is proof that this matters to people.

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