Downtown Silver Spring management has launched an initiative to educate customers and staff about breast-feeding after a mother was confronted about publicly feeding her baby last week.
The new effort outlines steps by Peterson Companies’ management, including, educating its staff about the law, handing out copies of the breast-feeding law, setting up an informational booth over the next few Saturdays with La Leche League in Silver Spring and requiring security guards to carry copies of the law.
The issue came to light on Aug. 9 when a Washington, D.C., mother was sitting near the fountain in the downtown plaza and her 11-month-old girl wanted milk. Jamie D. Smith tried to feed her baby discreetly.
“A security guard, who was pretty nasty, told me I had to leave [and] I couldn’t breast feed my baby because I was exposing myself,” said Smith, "and that if I didn’t want to leave, that I would have to cover my baby up completely.”
After Smith took her concerns to downtown Silver Spring Event Manager Lillian Buie, the incident set off an uproar among members of the Silver Spring Moms Yahoo Group.
Buie apologized for the mistake and said at no point would a mother be told she couldn’t feed her baby. But in this incident, other patrons complained to the management.
Some moms expressed how they were “uncomfortable and that the nipples were exposed,” Buie said.
Maryland law states that “a mother may breast-feed her child in any public or private location in which the mother and child are authorized to be and a person may not restrict or limit the right of a mother to breast-feed her child.”
Buie said she fully understands the law.
“No way we are ever going to say a woman can’t breast-feed,” Buie said. “I want this to be a community decision.”
Buie detailed the new policy in an email sent to Silver Spring moms on Friday afternoon.