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Breast-feeding Pic Stirs Debate

Reported by: Send eMail Stefano DiPietrantonio
Reported: Jun. 10, 2014 11:02 PM EDT
Updated: Jun. 11, 2014 3:54 PM EDT

Breastfeeding Pic Debate
Eyewitness News Photo

Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Stefano DiPietrantonio) - There is a picture circulating around social media right now that is getting a lot of attention.

It shows a college graduate breast-feeding her baby at graduation ceremonies in Long Beach, Calif. Women in West Virginia are particularly interested because the Child's Right To Nurse law recently went into effect.

It protects the rights of women and allows them to breast-feed wherever they need to, with no restrictions. It took nine years to get passed. And like the woman in the picture, advocates here cannot understand what all the fuss is about.

Karlesha Thurman, 25, was beaming with pride and happiness on her big day and breast-feeding her 3-month-old daughter.

"We're celebrating a victory," said Cinny Kittle with West Virginia's Breastfeeding Alliance, who said she was thrilled to see that photo, especially after a nine-year battle to destigmatize it in the Mountain State.

"Gives women the legal right to breast-feed their babies anywhere in public," Kittle said.

The law just went into effect June 6.

"Babies get hungry and they need to eat and what we were seeing was, women were being told they needed to go in the restroom, or asked to leave places," Kittle said. "You don't eat your dinner in a bathroom, and you shouldn't expect a mom to take her baby in the bathroom to have dinner."

Kittle said the freedom to breast-feed was never more critical, than during the water crisis.

"Women who were breast-feeding didn't have an issue,” Kittle said. “But the women who were formula feeding, and needed water, and a way to safely wash their bottles and nipples and all of that, those moms were in a pinch for a while when there was not safe water."

People definitely have their hang-ups about it.

Charleston nurse Laura Cade agreed with the young mom’s decision to breast-feed in public.

"It's her baby. It's right to do that, it's nature. It's what she was made for," Cade said.

Chris Arthur of Charleston said his wife did some breast-feeding and would not have a problem with her doing it in public. He said if he saw another mother breast-feeding in public, and his son asked him about it, he would simply say "the baby's hungry and the mommy's feeding the baby."

Some of the benefits of breast-feeding include bonding time for the baby and the mother. There is no mixing, measuring, or sterilizing required. Breast-feeding bolsters a baby's immune system and decreases the risk for obesity, asthma, allergies and diabetes. It’s also healthier for a baby than formula.

"I don't understand the big deal there,” Arthur said. “It's part of life. She has a baby, the baby has to be fed. I think it's out of proportion, the social media reaction to that."

Eyewitness News asked you to weigh in on our Facebook page and received more than 1,000 responses.

Kim Krase Jarrouj wrote: “Kudos to her for having a baby and still graduating. She is also not only putting herself on the right path, but also her child since she is breast-feeding. That's a hard working woman.”

Joe Slack wrote: “That’s what breast pumps are for. Some people may be offended by seeing that. If a person has a young son, they don’t need to see that.”

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