Army wife ordered to stop breastfeeding on post

Jess Lanham's daughter
April 1, 2011 7:54:28 PM PDT
A nursing mother says she went to the military housing office on Fort Bragg to fill out paperwork and had to wait for several hours.

When she went to breastfeed her daughter in a private room, she was ordered to stop nursing.

"I was made to feel like I was doing something wrong by feeding my child," Jess Lanham said.

It is a shame Lanham says no mother should feel.

"There are so many new mothers that don't breastfeed their children because they are afraid of being discriminated against," she said. "They are afraid of people looking at them funny."

Lanham, whose husband is deployed, says that's what happened to her when she went to the Soldier Support Center on Fort Bragg to sign up for on-post housing.

She was filling out paperwork in a private office when her 8-month-old daughter needed to nurse. Lanham says she covered her child's head, unbuttoned her shirt and began feeding her.

"And when I declined, she said I could come back at a more appropriate time and she started packing away my paperwork, implying we were done if I was feeding my child," Lanham explained. "And I said, 'Why can't I nurse her here?' And she told me they need to maintain a business like atmosphere."

Lanham makes it clear her beef isn't with the Army, but Picerne Housing. That's a company that contracts with the military to provide on-post housing for troops and their families.

In an e-mail statement to ABC11 Eyewitness News, a company spokesperson issued an apology saying, "We deeply regret any comments made by one of our employees that Mrs. Lanham found offensive."

The spokesperson said she talked with Lanham Thursday night and "deeply apologized for the comments." She added, "We plan to educate all of our employees to ensure sensitivity to breastfeeding mothers."

State and federal laws protect mothers nursing their children in public.

Lanham hopes her story raises public awareness that breastfeeding is a natural act, not something to be ashamed of.

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