The Great Nurse-In is on.
I first wrote about this effort this past winter, when it was little more than a Washington mother’s pipe dream. Rachel Papantonakis came up with the idea after she read about a series of episodes when breast-feeding mothers were told to cover up by misinformed officials.
Papantonakis proposed a mass show of support for breast-feeding in the most public of venues — The Mall. She sent out word on several area listservs and on Facebook.
Now, the Great Nurse-In Facebook page has more than 2,000 fans and Papantonakis has reserved the West Lawn of the Capitol for the second day of the two-day event.
She expects several hundred people will join the gathering Aug. 3 and 4, dates chosen to coincide with World Breastfeeding Week.
The Great Nurse-In will begin on Aug. 3, with a catered registration and “Action Day” when participants will be encouraged to meet with Congress members to talk with them about support for more nursing-friendly laws.
On Aug. 4, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the group will gather on the West Lawn, where children’s entertainers will perform and a series of speakers will talk about aspects of breast-feeding. There will also be an open microphone for supporters.
Since Papantonakis first came up with the idea, public attention to breast-feeding has only intensified.
An intellectual debate over its demands on the mother was launched with the American publication of Elisabeth Badinter’s controversial book, “The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women” (Metropolitan Books).
A more earthy debate resulted from the recent TIME cover showing a young mother nursing her almost four-year-old son.
Though Papantonakis said she thinks that cover sensationalized the practice of extended nursing, she said she thought it had a positive effect too.
It “sparked a conversation about breast-feeding that reached so far and wide, it’s incredible. My 92-year-old grandmother was talking about it at her senior living complex,” she said.
“It helped to get people talking about how they feel about breast-feeding and why. It took away the notion that breast-feeding is for infants only. It was absolutely sensational — TIME wanted to sell magazines and they did. … [But] my overall take on it is that it brought breast-feeding into the mainstream news, into dinner party conversations, into playground chats — and that’s a great step towards normalizing breast-feeding.”
What do you think of a mass Nurse-In? Will you go?