The first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week, and a New Jersey woman vocally championed the cause — especially after an incident on Tuesday. After a municipal employee called the cops on a New Jersey woman for breastfeeding in public, the woman, Michelle Ayala, wants people to know that breastfeeding is natural.
Ayala was at the beach with her three children and began nursing her 2-year-old daughter when a city employee asked her to stop breastfeeding, Ayala told The New Jersey Star-Ledger. When Ayala wouldn’t meet the employee’s request, the woman went over to the lifeguard stand and called the police.
New Jersey laws allows people to breastfeed in public, and an officer from the Franklin Borough Police Department ended up siding with her when he was called to respond to the incident, according to The New Jersey Star-Ledger. The Franklin Borough Administrator’s office and the police department have not responded to Bustle’s requests for comment.
"I just think it's a normal, natural thing, nursing a child — whether she's one, or 2, or newborn — and I don't think it's offensive," Ayala told The Star-Ledger. "We need to educate. It's 2018."
This week happens to be World Breastfeeding Week, which Ayala said was just a coincidence. But the fortuitous timing gave Ayala all the more reason to speak out about her cause.
According to The New Jersey Herald, Ayala said the borough employee told her to “do it somewhere else” and Borough Administrator Alison McHose later expressed her support for breastfeeding, but allegedly told Ayala she had to “cover up."
The Franklin Borough administrator’s office has not responded to Bustle’s request for comment. However, McHose did provide a statement to The New Jersey Herald: "We regret the situation made any of the guests feel uncomfortable and are using this as an opportunity to remind all involved of a woman's right to breastfeed under New Jersey law."
Now Ayala is hosting a “nurse-in” protest at the pond on Saturday called “Flap in Franklin” to stand up for the breastfeeding cause. She's recieved some online from organizations such as We are Women For Justice, which tweeted about Ayala's advocacy.
USA Today reported that breastfeeding is actually legal in all 50 states, as of late last month when Utah and Idaho made the move to legalize it.
The U.S. Department of Labor actually has a law that insists employers give working mothers a break to pump when they work. The employers also have to give those working moms a place “other than a bathroom” where they can pump in private.
That law applies to a lot of moms. In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that about 83 percent of all U.S. children born that year had been breastfed at least one time.
Ayala said in a Star-Ledger video that she believes the public needs to be educated about breastfeeding and why it's important for moms to have a space to do it without judgement. And perhaps her cause will be heard after the pond incident.