The Washington Post

It’s Simply the Breast

A local mom arranges an event to encourage federal protection for nursing everywhere

Women breast-feed their babies at the Hirshhorn Museum in D.C. on Feb. 12, 2011, during a ‘nurse-in’ organized after a woman was stopped from nursing in public there.

Rachel Papantonakis is tired of people who behave like boobs when it comes to breast-feeding.

“Breast-feeding mothers, on the whole, are not exhibitionists or looking to flaunt what they’re doing,” says the District resident, a 32-year-old mom of two. “If a child can be bottle-fed someplace, so too should he be able to be breast-fed.”

It doesn’t always work that way in Washington, despite a law that recognizes the right to breast-feed in public. In December, at a D.C. government building, a mom nursing her 4-month-old was accused by a security guard of indecent exposure. Earlier last year, guards at the Hirshhorn Museum suggested a mom sit on a toilet instead of a bench to feed her daughter.

Spurred on by these incidents, Papantonakis has organized The Great Nurse-In on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Capitol grounds. She expects up to 1,000 attendees for the event, which will feature performers and activities, as well as speeches by breast-feeding proponents.

Papantonakis’ goal is a federal mandate that provides for full protection for public breast-feeding, repercussions for harassers of nursing moms, space to breast-feed or pump and store milk at workplaces and federal funding for breast-feeding education.

There’s no reason to take baby steps, says Ivor Horn, a pediatrician at Children’s National Medical Center. Research has shown that breast milk can reduce childhood infection rates and boost growth and development.

Even when nursing continues beyond a year — the duration recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics — mother and child reap bonding benefits, Horn says. And the big winners? Other people who don’t want to hear a screaming kid.

“When we get on an airplane, the easiest way to quiet him down is to boob him,” says Desiree Lomer-Clarke, a 33-year-old Arlington mom who still nurses her 2-year-old. “I feel like everyone should thank me for doing it.”

Papantonakis will settle for everyone allowing her to do it.


The percentage of moms in D.C. who try breast-feeding, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2011 Breastfeeding Report Card.


The Great Nurse-In kicks off Friday with registration (10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tabula Rasa, 731 8th St. SE) and a Congressional Action Day. The Capitol event Saturday will also serve as a location for the Big Latch On: At 10:30 a.m., participants around the world will attempt to break the record for the most women breast-feeding simultaneously. More details can be found at



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Making family dinnertime happen
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
New limbs for Pakistani soldiers
Play Videos
A veteran finds healing on a dog sled
Learn to make this twice-baked cookie
How to prevent 'e-barrassment'
Play Videos
Syrian refugee: 'I’m committed to the power of music'
The art of tortilla-making
Michael Bolton's cinematic serenade to Detroit
Play Videos
Circus nuns: These sisters are no act
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
Cool off with sno-balls, a New Orleans treat
Next Story
Rachel Kaufman · July 30, 2012