Many speak out after woman asked to leave Georgia Applebee's - KCTV5 News

Many speak out after woman asked to leave Georgia Applebee's while breastfeeding

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An incident in a Georgia Applebee's is getting national attention. A woman was told to nurse her baby in the bathroom or leave, and it's the second time it's happened at the restaurant chain.

When the Georgia woman refused to stop nursing her baby, the store manger called police. Local moms are now talking about the stigma that's still attached to breastfeeding in public.

When it comes to nutrition for babies, doctors will tell you breastfeeding is best. The chubby cheeks and grins KCTV5's Amy Anderson found at a breastfeeding support group at Saint Luke's North Hospital are a true testament to the benefits.

"I've had success nursing in Kansas City in restaurants. It's great to see that - it's sad it's not everywhere," Megan Clark said.

At an Applebee's near Atlanta this month, a woman nursing her son in the back of the restaurant in a booth was told to quit or go to the bathroom. When she refused, the female manager called police. In 2007, a woman at a Kentucky Applebee's was asked to stop nursing her baby - that incident sparked a nationwide protest from breastfeeding moms.

For Jessica Toye and all the moms Anderson talked to, feeding their babies on someone else's schedule isn't an option.

"It makes me mad because we're feeding our babies. Why are people trying to impose on that?" Toye said.

"The babies need to nurse and need to feed and it shouldn't be something that's embarrassing or cause to say, ‘You shouldn't be allowed to do it in public,'" Mary Prichard said.

Just Wednesday afternoon, a woman on a local Facebook mommy group posted she too recently had an incident at an Applebee's. She said while she was nursing her 3-week-old daughter at an Omaha, NE, location, she was asked by staff to either finish in her car or the bathroom.

The moms said it's a long-standing stigma that'll only get better through education or just talking about it.

"I think continuing to talk about it will really help - I think when people don't talk about breastfeeding or think it's something shameful - then that causes those types of reactions."

Applebee's declined KCTV5's request for an on-camera interview, but released the following statement:

Applebee's welcomes literally millions of guests through our doors every year, many of whom are mothers who nurse their children in our restaurants without incident. Our policy is to provide a friendly and comfortable environment for every guest, and we regret the rare and isolated instances when we fall short of this standard for any reason. When we or our franchisees make mistakes, Applebee's acknowledges them, apologizes and takes corrective measures to ensure we do better. In this case, Applebee's has apologized to the guest for our local manager's error in judgment, and we have taken the opportunity to reeducate our team members on our expectations for accommodating mothers who have the right to nurse in public.

There are laws on the books in some states that clearly offer rights to breastfeeding mothers.

Health officials have long promoted breastfeeding as the best way to pass along antibodies to your baby to protect them from bacteria and viruses.

Yet, according to the CDC, approximately 75 percent of mothers start breastfeeding immediately after birth, but less than 15 percent of those moms are still breastfeeding six months later.

Many mothers claim it's just too hard to find a proper place, especially after their maternity leave is over. That's why President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to require an employer to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk. The employer is not required to compensate an employee for that time, but must provide a place, other than a bathroom, for the employee to express breast milk.

Kansas and Missouri are also among 45 states with laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in a public or private location. However, they are not on the books with the 28 states that exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws or the 24 states that have laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace.

However, Kansas is one of the few states that exempts breastfeeding mothers from jury duty and Missouri is one of only five states to encourage the development of a breastfeeding awareness education campaign.

Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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