Mother harassed for breastfeeding in Orange County store – organizes a ‘nurse-in’

by on August 25, 2010 · 56 comments

in Culture, Health, Life Events

breast feeding momBy Tara Wallis-Finestone / / August 25, 2010

A Southern California mother is outraged she was asked to stop breastfeeding her baby in public.

Rose Homme, a mother of two from Orange County, said the incident happened Friday at the Cost Plus World Market located at the Village at Orange.  She was there shopping with her mother and two children, a 3-year-old daughter and a 10-month-old son.

“We had been shopping just a short time when my son Oliver became fussy because he was hungry and tired,” said Homme. “I grabbed him from my mom and walked to the back of the store to see if there was a lactation room to feed him in, but there wasn’t.”

Homme said she then cradled her baby boy and began breastfeeding him in the store. A few minutes later, a female employee approached her and asked her to stop.

“She asked me to go feed my child in the bathroom because she said a customer was complaining,” said Homme.

Homme said she was stunned and she told the employee that she would not go to the bathroom with her baby.

“She kept repeating, ‘Out of respect for yourself and out of respect for other customers, please cover up,'” said Homme. “I know my rights as a breastfeeding mother and this was request was ridiculous and against the law.”

That’s when Homme said she lost her temper and demanded to speak to a manager.

“She wouldn’t let me talk to a manager, but she handed me a business card,” said Homme. “A co-worker of hers also told her to call security.”

At that point, with her baby asleep in her arms, Homme said she left the store angry and offended. She drove home and she vented her frustration in a place where so many people do now days:

Facebook. “I went home and put a post on my Facebook page,” said Homme. “My midwife and doula got wind of what happened and spread the news through their huge communities of women.”

“This conduct is not only outrageous but also has huge legal ramifications,” said Robin Sax, NBCLA’s Legal Analyst. “In California under section 43.3 of the civil code, a mother has a fundamental right to breastfeed in public or private. The only limitation is in the private home of another person.”

NBCLA contacted Cost Plus World Market for comment. Jane Baughman, the company’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, issued this statement:

“Our corporate policy is to uphold all state and local laws regarding breastfeeding, and we want our customers and mothers everywhere to know that we openly support, respect and acknowledge a woman’s right to breastfeed in public. We appreciate the passion our customers have shown in response to this recent incident and support their ongoing dialogue in this regard.

“As a working mother, I support a woman’s right to breastfeed in public and am confident the company is taking the necessary actions to prevent any future incidents. In addition, our company officials have spoken directly to the mother involved to express our regrets with this unfortunate incident.”

Homme said she accepts the company’s apology and she hopes Cost Plus World Market educates its employees about the law.

“Breastfeeding is normal, natural and acceptable. No mother should be forced to go into a bathroom or hot car to feed her child,” said Homme. “I don’t want this to happen to any other moms.”

In an effort to bring awareness to the issue, she and her friends have organized what they are calling a “nurse-in” at the Cost Plus World Market in Orange on Saturday, Aug. 28.

Go to the original article here.

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

kenloc August 25, 2010 at 1:03 pm

A restroom is quite an unsanitary place to breastfeed. What a terrible suggestion. Obviously the employee didn’t have children of her own.


sara August 25, 2010 at 1:23 pm

I think it’s rude for a breastfeeding mother to whip her boob out and feed her kid – she should have some discretion and respect for the other shoppers!


Becky Hunter September 1, 2010 at 2:40 pm

I think you are rude for making that statement. We don’t generally whip our boobs out in a distaseful manner. Most moms have a special shirt which allows for discreet feeding or a blanket draped over the top. What you have done is made an ignorant statement.


Debbie August 25, 2010 at 5:57 pm

This is a mom taking care of her baby ….get over it! She’s was doing a Janet Jackson at 1/2 time ….


Diane5150 August 25, 2010 at 11:03 pm

I happen to like seeing breasts most of the time. One exception being very old and wrinkled breasts, because they remind me that I too am fighting gravity. Breasts bulging with milk are a curiosity to me and while I am repulsed by the squirming crap factory hanging off the tit, I think women who bear their breasts in service to their children are unsung heroes. The world needs more good Mothers.


Brian August 26, 2010 at 1:12 am

This might be my favorite OB Rag comment ever.


Frank Gormlie August 26, 2010 at 8:55 am



Abby August 26, 2010 at 9:12 am

Maybe it’s because I was raised by hippies, but I see a mother breast feeding a baby as a beautiful thing. It’s a natural thing, and it’s what’s best for the baby.

I don’t understand how anyone can find this offensive. What is so wrong about seeing a breast? Besides, you see more skin from women walking around town in bikinis than a breastfeeding mother.

Sara: You are acting as if this is Girls Gone Wild instead of what it is, a beautiful act of caring.


Gary Ghirardi August 26, 2010 at 10:34 am

It is a common site in Venezuela for women, irrespective of economic class, to breast feed their babies in public or in front of the family. This just seems to be the custom. I never noticed men or women taking much notice of this. Clearly the custom respects the privacy of the mother and the necessity of the action when the people in the society are accustomed to basic human needs and not in opposition to them. Here lies the cultural crisis for many who have trouble with their own maturity as adults. Why do we need to preserve social customs to protect ourselves from the most immature among us?


Sarah August 26, 2010 at 10:56 am

I shiver when I think of what I would have done to the person who dared try to stop me from feeding my children when and where I needed to do so.

I might consider supporting a movement to stop mothers from feeding their children big macs in public.


Diane5150 August 26, 2010 at 12:18 pm

You know, if I had a choice, I’d choose a lovely, warm, soft breast over a Big Mac.


Lisa December 1, 2010 at 11:34 pm

I would support you if you started a movement like that!! :-)


john August 27, 2010 at 3:08 am

All those mothers who are defending this, when you fed your baby in public, were you discreet and made a reasonable attempt to be discreet? I see that the account first has her directing her to the bathroom, (and though I haven’t been in many women’s bathrooms, I do believe there is a something tantamount to international law stating they are required to have a couch, right? LOL) and if it DID have a couch I think that is viable but we don’t know that- however the second request was that she COVER UP. I don’t think that is at all unreasonable, do you?
It’s natural instinct for a mother’s attention to be centered on caring for her child, sometimes they forget the rest of the world doesn’t want to see a baby sucking on a jug when they’re out shopping. I’m pretty sure had this mother taken a minimal effort to be discreet the employee wouldn’t have had a cow over it.
I DO support the right of mothers to breast feed in public. Fer chrissakes throw a towel over it though.


Sarah August 27, 2010 at 8:58 am

Dear John,

In about 1949 all the couches were removed from women’s restrooms. We’ve been trying to have them reinstalled ever since because we really need nice places to rest our pretty little heads.

In my experience, people who object to the sight of a nursing baby are freaks and have issues of their own that ought to be dealt with before they open their mouths. I’m not saying that you’re one of them, but still…

What upsets me is the sight of a mother ramming a bottle filled with similac in their baby’s mouth.


john August 27, 2010 at 11:27 am

Before abortions became legal many mothers gave birth and left the hospital that day, with the county left to raise the child. Formula was the only option for such a situation.
However back to the issue, is it such a big deal to cover up with a towel or blanket? Isn’t it a part of civilized society that we take into consideration the respect for how others feel when we are out in public? Why do we wear clothes?


Abby August 27, 2010 at 11:33 am

What exactly is so upsetting about the sight of a nursing mother? How is this offensive?

Can someone explain this to me?


john August 27, 2010 at 12:06 pm

A nudist could ask the same question. Why do women have to wear shirts in public?


Debbie August 27, 2010 at 12:09 pm

ok , here’s one for you…..I think anyone with a bald head should have to wear a hat so I don’t have to look at a bald head.


Frank Gormlie August 27, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Debbie, that would apply to most the men on the OB Town Council.


Abby August 27, 2010 at 12:16 pm

That doesn’t answer my question, why does it offend you?


Debbie August 27, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Just for the record, I am A ok with it. A mom caring for her baby is sweet and loving.

Also, my initial comment above should have said, “she’s wasn’t pulling a Janet Jackson at 1/2 time”

Cheers to all MOMS!


john August 27, 2010 at 1:12 pm

That’s what’s called a “pointless line of questioning” as there is no clear answer on the way society ingrains these things upon us. As I implied it’s not really dissimilar to nudists pointing out how natural it is to be clothing-optional. I will frankly admit I have no answer for you but that does not mean I’m wrong for not wanting to look at it.
Since you can’t seriously think you’d be able to change the way people think (or decades of society’s standards, to be more accurate) just by arguing with them on the internet, just accept that some people don’t want to see it. I’m one, though I wouldn’t make a stink about it if someone was doing it- I’d appreciate it if they did try to be discreet.


john August 27, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Just to make it perfectly clear I am not against breastfeeding in public in the slightest bit, and I’m not “offended”. I just think it’s tasteful to be discreet about it and drape a towel or light blanket over the suckling child and breast when in the presence of others.
(making the statement so I don’t become the focus of everyone’s ire on the issue)
I can’t help but wonder if the woman in this story wasn’t a little too obvious about it or didn’t push it to make a statement.


kenloc August 27, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Women should never feed a baby or pump breastmilk in a restroom.It is too unsanitary for a little one without a fully developed immune system,even if the restroom has a sofa.Sarah,I wouldn’t get so offended about mothers using similac.Some mothers simply don’t produce enough milk to satisfy their baby and have to supplement.Some women breastfeed for the 1st 6months to a year and switch to formula.Sometimes you are seeing a mother giving pumped breast milk from the bottle.


Patty Jones August 27, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Thanks for bringing that up kenloc, any bathroom is a horrible place to feed a baby.


Sarah August 27, 2010 at 9:50 pm

kenloc – Let’s not go there. I am so damned well-educated about the subject of breast feeding that I could sit here for the entire summer and discuss the issue (and be correct…).

I’ll give you a pass ’cause you’re right about restrooms.


kenloc August 28, 2010 at 11:27 am

We were in the same boat as John and his wife with the breastfeeding.Had to supplement formula because the baby wasn’t getting enough to satiate her. I know there are places out there that deliver real breastmilk(Leche League I think it’s called) but it seemed odd to give our baby breastmilk from another person.My wife had alot of angst and depression over not being able to satiate her baby naturally.We had lactation consultants come over.Most suggest supplementing formula when baby can’t get enough.The point I was making is you shouldn’t judge someones mothering abilities because they are feeding baby a bottle.You can be as educated on the subject as you claim but you can’t read minds and do not know everyones circumstance.


Lisa December 1, 2010 at 11:43 pm

LOL…I think if someone doesn’t lik the sight of a baby nursing, they should cover their own heads with a blanket. Or do what I do when I see an adult in a restaurant chewing like a cow: look the other way!

On the nudist topic: what a bad analogy: babies needs to eat to survive. Nudists need not be nude to survive…


Sarah August 27, 2010 at 9:54 pm

john – please elaborate on why giving birth and leaving the hospital instead of aborting a child has any bearing on on breast feeding or using formula. I’m very confused.

I left the hospital within 24 hours and didn’t have an overwhelming need to purchase formula.

So, back to your “issue” about covering up. Simple – some babies do not like to be covered up while they dine. When babies dislike something they cry. I do not think that letting a hungry baby cry to avoid upsetting some narrow-minded twit is a viable option.


john August 28, 2010 at 2:22 am

First off you don’t need to stoop to name calling here, it doesn’t reinforce your opinion, only shows lack of confidence in your own position .

“john – please elaborate on why giving birth and leaving the hospital instead of aborting a child has any bearing on on breast feeding or using formula. I’m very confused.”

Whoa, are you serious? You were denouncing the use of formula, when a mother back in the 60’s left a child with the county to be raised as a ward, there was no mother to breast feed the baby. Many mothers today give the child up for adoption and the adoptive mother can’t breast feed the baby. Millions of children grow up on formula most often out of necessity.

“I left the hospital within 24 hours and didn’t have an overwhelming need to purchase formula. ”

Hey, good for you. After my ex-wife left the hospital with our daughter she tried the breast feeding method and it didn’t work so well. Had we stubbornly stuck with it and refused to use formula the child would have been undernourished.

“So, back to your “issue” about covering up. Simple – some babies do not like to be covered up while they dine. When babies dislike something they cry. I do not think that letting a hungry baby cry to avoid upsetting some narrow-minded twit is a viable option.”

Since a baby is almost 100% concentrated on that breast or more accurately what’s in it, and could only realize they are being shielded from view if they turned away from it, I’m flat out calling BS on that one. Not calling you a liar, you probably believe it’s true. Sounds to me though you are using some really wild theory, that the baby wants the world to see what they are doing, to promote your obsession over mothers breast feeding- which is evident with this statement:

“I am so damned well-educated about the subject of breast feeding that I could sit here for the entire summer and discuss the issue (and be correct…). ”

You’re obviously promoting a much deeper agenda here. Babies don’t know they are being shielded from public view, and there are baby blankets designed to be light, airy and not at all claustrophobic to the infant, who is 100% focused on feeding. However you’re attacking the wrong person, I went out of my way to express I have no objection against mothers doing so with discretion and good taste. Those who might go out of their way in public to make sure people see they breast feed their baby, I might have a problem with. . I’m pretty sure that’s what’s going on with this story and maybe your comments too.

I would further comment on your belief the baby doesn’t like something so it gets its way, never mind what other people object to- at what age do you stop letting your child’s wants dictate your actions?

:-) You don’t have to answer that.


Stacey August 28, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Do you eat under a blanket or towel?


john August 29, 2010 at 6:31 am

Assuming you are married, your husband does. One would think you women forgot how you got the baby in the first place.
(not getting personal-the baby isn’t eating off a plate with a fork and a spoon, it’s finding a warm body part and attaching its mouth to it- something we do all the time) It could easily be argued the baby would like to be covered up more than not.


Gary Ghirardi August 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Breastfeeding in public around the world


Gary Ghirardi August 27, 2010 at 12:49 pm

According to the link above it seems we are still attached to the traditional Victorian mores inside Anglo-cultures. Most of the world has no trouble with breast feeding. Japan seems to have a bit of a problem but they have a problem with pornography as we do in the English Speaking Cultures. It must be the fallout of sexual repression. People who say it is a sign that these other cultures are “third-world” or uncivilized, I beg to differ. I prefer that their cultures are “human-first.” That is why I liked hippies when I was young, because they were turning this all around and it gave me hope.


john August 28, 2010 at 2:34 am

We haven’t had a good number of real hippies in this city since Phish came through town with their entourage/following almost 15 years ago. (apparantly Phish relaced the Grateful Dead? I digress)
They absolutely trashed dog beach park, lit campfires in the grassy areas, dumped trash all over, broke into the house next to mine and the girl who worked swing shift came home and found a half dozen of them crashed in her living room. (to their credit they thought they were breaking into an empty beach rental, my neighbor didn’t have a lot of possessions.) That evening they swept through the neighborhood and tore up anything resembling loose pieces of wood for their fires.
It was almost as bad as the “USA-#1” partiers on fourth of July.
I am objective if nothing else.


life? August 27, 2010 at 7:02 pm



john August 28, 2010 at 2:35 am



Brian August 29, 2010 at 7:14 am

I posted a pic of a woman breastfeeding, and it’s “awaiting moderation”. Is that a standard catch for posts with links in them?


Frank Gormlie August 29, 2010 at 9:19 am

Patty says, “there’s a time and place for bestiality and this wasn’t it.”


Sarah August 29, 2010 at 5:18 pm

I’m just sort of wondering about there being a time and a place for bestiality.


Patty Jones August 29, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Well hell, it weren’t real bestiality, but I didn’t want it up, so it was more of a poke at the person who posted it. ;)


Sarah August 30, 2010 at 11:54 am



Brian August 31, 2010 at 9:54 pm

I’m curious what that is as well.

I got the pic off of Reuters, so I’m guessing if someone’s interested they could go to the Reuters site and search for breastfeeding and goat to read the story (and see the pic).


Patty Jones August 29, 2010 at 9:58 am

Yeah, posts with links in them get routed to us.


tiny August 30, 2010 at 10:31 pm

The law doesn’t say a woman has to “cover up” that would be to hard to enforce… Who’s idea of “covered up” would you go by? I work at a college and I swear I see more boob skin there than I have ever seen when moms feed their kids. Most moms are discreet enough. They just want to feed their kids and get on with the day. People need to get used to this so it isn’t such a big deal.

I was once accused of having a double standard because I said speedo’s were gross. Yes, I think that. But I’d never go to the lifeguard and complain and insist they run the guy off. That’s what this customer and the Cost plus employee did. CA state law gives her the right to breastfeed in public. Others can’t interfere with that even if they think it’s gross. If it bugs you, don’t look!


john August 31, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Comparing a mother’s need to feed her baby with a guy’s choice to wear over-revealing swimming trunks is a very poor analogy. The rest of your points had merit, however, and I concede my position probably is superficially wrong.
“Most moms are discreet enough.”
That being the case, and I believe it is, I think most of the public doesn’t care. The word “decorum” probably best applies, and I think some people are out there not trying to be discreet at all in public but trying to prove a point. If the point is they have the right to feed their baby, well it never needed to be proved in the first place. If the point is their personal standards of discretion (or lack thereof, depends on which side of this one is on) need to be accepted by everyone else, that’s going to be tough.
One thing that’s not in dispute is that the Cost Plus employee went way too far. However we’re only hearing one side of the story. This statement:
“I grabbed him from my mom and walked to the back of the store to see if there was a lactation room to feed him in, but there wasn’t.”
In light of the fact such facilities for the public are virtually nonexistent, tells me she was on a mission of activism in the first place.
She shouldn’t need to be. Such facilities should be available.

Or since you can’t exactly rebuild every public facility, for now put a couch in the restroom.
(and keep it spotless)


Becky Hunter September 1, 2010 at 3:29 pm

She used an excellent analogy, because the comparison wasn’t between the nursing mother and the man wearing the icky slingshot, it was between the reaction of the public and how they handle it. If someone doesn’t like what they see, they have a choice to whine about it to management or not. The analogy is perfect – that the man in the kleenex has as much right to wear that on a beach as a mother has to boob feed her kid. On that note, maybe it really is about them after all! :)


john September 1, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Since we seem to be on the same page on the overall issue (you comment above about being discreet or covering up echoes my sentiments and I support the rights of mothers to breast feed in public places) I wouldn’t press the issue but I DO love to argue-
Don’t you think it’s a trivial issue that a man WANTS to wear speedos over more substantial trunks in public, VS a mother’s need to feed a baby? The reaction by the public SHOULD be different, one is concerning styles of fashion and pushing the limits of how much skin you want to show- the other concerns human sustainance and survival.
I think you were looking to disagree with me based upon my other comments in the thread, and seized upon that- and didn’t realize that by this time I’m actually conceding the point towards the mothers and agreeing with you, as I continued on to (hopefully) make clear in that post.
My take, could be wrong.


Becky Hunter September 1, 2010 at 3:17 pm

When I was still a nursing mother, I subscribed to a magazine for breastfeeding families. In it were some cards to tear out and carry in your purse or pocket for times such as this incident at Cost Plus. On them it says that in certain states the law protects breastfeeding in public and that any facility that tries to stop it or guide the mother to a restroom is breaking the law. It then lists all the states where this law is in effect. CA is one of them.

How hilarious would it have been, when the employee denied the right to speak to the manager and then handed the mother a business card, for the mother to whip out one of those babies and hand THAT to the snooty employee? READ THAT AND WEEP, SPARKY!!! :)


Betty Boop September 28, 2010 at 5:03 am

The general public shouldn’t have to look at this. I don’t understand laws allowing a mother to pull her boobs out in public. That’s what breast pumps and bottles are for. Glad I don’t live in California.


Becky Hunter September 28, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Um, there are no laws “allowing a mother to pull her boobs out in public,” but there are laws preventing others to become nosey and cross the line by telling a mother who is feeding her baby the way she has chosen to that she has to stop. I breastfed all 4 of my daughters in public at some point and my breasts were COMPLETELY covered. When the Cost Plus employee said for this mom to “cover up” I think she just meant to stop nursing the baby in general. Some are bothered even when they can’t see the actual breast, and that’s just immature. Good luck wherever you do live, because there are A LOT of states besides CA that enforce this law.


Betty Boop September 28, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Fortunately, I don’t live in one of those states. However, I spend a lot of time traveling, and a fair amount of time visiting relatives in California. I haven’t seen anyone breastfeed there nor anywhere else. Still, I think it’s totally without manners to breastfeed a child in public, and given that I don’t see it a lot of mothers doing it, they must agree with me.


Becky Hunter September 28, 2010 at 11:12 pm

What you may not realize is that when you see these mothers “not doing it” they really are. A lot of nursing mothers look like they are just holding a sleeping baby or trying to keep wind or sun off of them with the blanket, when in fact they are breastfeeding them. Like I said, those of us “with manners” are able to nurse in public while covering up. You really shouldn’t have a problem with that. If you do, then you think the act itself is bad, (since obviously you can’t claim that there was exposure of a breast). If you can’t handle it when mom is keeping things covered, then you are responding immaturely. If that’s not true, then cool. I think it’s discrimination to say that it’s “poor manners” even when the mom has a secured blanket or something covering her, her boob, and baby. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it rarely occurs. I’ve seen women all over the place nursing in public.


Betty Boop September 29, 2010 at 7:46 am

LOL, other people have said that to me too. I don’t think you can nurse a baby that’s sitting in a stroller or has a bottle in its mouth, can you? And if you tried, there’s no doubt that people would notice.

There are some acts that are just inappropriate to perform in public. You wouldn’t change your child’s diaper in public, would you?

Further, if you are going to allow breastfeeding in public, it’s a slippery slope to try and dictate just how much a woman should be allowed to show, and is the reason that most laws dictate that anything goes “incidental” to the feeding. (Not sure how long that boob has to be exposed to cross the line into indecent exposure)

Fortunately, even where there are such laws, women rarely breastfeed in pubic. If they did it with any amount of regularity, I would see it. And I don’t think that a baby in a stroller or with a bottle in its mouth is being breastfed, at least at the moment.

I have yet to see a baby in a sling , under a blanket, or anywhere near enough to its mothers breast to be sucking on it. If the baby is sleeping, it’s in the stroller, carriage or car seat, not being held by the mother. When I go out to eat, I almost never see a baby in the establishment because I don’t patronize restaurants that cater to children (i.e., that have changing tables, high chairs, kids’ menus, etc.)

Anyway, you’ll have to believe me that I never see it. I have a friend who challenged me, and so I’ve been looking for it for more than a year now. Never paid so much attention to babies before!


Becky Hunter September 29, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Okay, okay, I believe you… :)

Well, you’ll have to believe me that I never exposed my breast to the public when I breastfed my kids either. Sometimes, it was just necessary to feed right then and there. After a while, I didn’t have pumped milk. My breastpump got broken, they are not cheap to replace, and to be honest, they’re not always easy to use. I guarantee you’d be a lot more comfortable seeing me feeding my happy baby (completely covered) than hearing her scream at the top of her lungs. :)

I agree that it is rude (in America) to let a boob hang out and show the world that you are breastfeeding. Even though breastfeeding isn’t sexual, people associate boobs only with taboo and sex (which is kind of sad). I was always too embarrassed to nurse my kids in public without being covered, so I had special nursing blankets that were like an apron almost, and didn’t fall off or anything. I could carry the baby around under there and no one knew that it was lunchtime for baby. I also get really good at being ultra discreet, even during a conversation. More women should be educated on how to do that, and facilities should create a safe feeding place for mothers. We shouldn’t be made to feel dirty or perverted because we are doing the most healthy thing for our children.


Betty Boop September 30, 2010 at 5:44 am

The woman in the article above was asked to leave because she wouldn’t cover up. There was no cover in place to start with.

If you allow breastfeeding in public, it’s pretty well impossible to demand modesty. Some children won’t eat under a blanket, and some mothers have latching problems and need to see what’s going on. This is why I say it shouldn’t be done in public at all.

I do agree that there should be more nursing rooms for mothers, and that new malls and large public accommodations should have those in their building plans. Local site planning committees require all sorts of accommodations — bathrooms, parking, and street widenings. There’s no reason that family lounges can’t be expanded to have actual seating areas in them separate from the bathroom (similar to the lounges in higher end department stores like Nordstrom and Neiman-Marcus).


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