Posted by: brambledoula | August 30, 2007

Whould you like to eat with a blanket over your head?

At least they didn’t send her to the bathroom.

Check out the pic, I can’t even see her breast.

Personally I’ve never successfully nursed under a blanket. Unless babies have sensitivity issues and need dark to concentrate (and my son’s issues require light so I’m screwed there), they usually won’t put up with a blanket. Also living in the south it’s just too fucking hot.

Babies should get to eat wherever we eat.

No one would’ve complained about this woman whipping out a bottle despite the fact that many also find bottle feeding offensive.

It’s getting ridiculous.

Mom pushes Applebee’s on breast-feeding



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Brooke Ryan nursed her 10-month-old son, Michael, at her home. She says her goal is to teach, not to be provocative.   Photo by David Stephenson | Staff

David Stephenson | Staff

Brooke Ryan nursed her 10-month-old son, Michael, at her home. She says her goal is to teach, not to be provocative. Photo by David Stephenson | Staff

In June, Brooke Ryan walked into a Nicholasville Road Applebee’s restaurant to celebrate an anniversary lunch with her children.

She walked out humiliated, in tears and without the lunch.

But the incident over breast-feeding her 7-month-old son at Applebee’s has spurred the soft-spoken 34-year-old to start a public awareness campaign on the rights of breast-feeding women in Kentucky.

“On a small scale, I want Applebee’s to change its policy,” Ryan said. “On a large scale … I want breast-feeding to be accepted.”

The dispute with Applebee’s began June 14. Ryan chose a booth in the back of the restaurant away from other customers. When her baby, Michael, got hungry, she began to nurse him discreetly, she said.

But a waitress came over and said that if she wanted to breast-feed, she had to cover the baby with a blanket. Ryan said it was so hot that she didn’t have a blanket. The waitress then repeated her request. Ryan said she then asked to see the manager and handed him a copy of the 2006 Kentucky law that prohibits interference with a woman breast-feeding her baby in public.

The manager said he knew about the law but a customer had complained about indecent exposure, so she had to cover the baby with a blanket.

Ryan left as her food came, to nurse her baby in the car.

Her lawyer wrote a letter to Thomas & King, the company that operates Applebee’s in Central Kentucky. They got no response. After a second letter, a Thomas & King lawyer said the restaurant chain would consider keeping blankets in the restaurant so that breast-feeding women could cover themselves.

“That’s like telling Rosa Parks she still had to sit in the back of the bus, but we’ll give her a blanket to make her more comfortable,” Ryan said.

When contacted yesterday, Mike Scanlon, president of Thomas & King, said he didn’t know about the incident. However, he called the Herald-Leader back to say that Applebee’s had no policy against breast-feeding.

“It is perfectly legal to breast-feed in public and we support that,” Scanlon said. “I’m not sure the manager said cover the baby’s head, I think he said cover yourself modestly. This was by no means intended as interference, but a request to do it modestly, which I believe is an appropriate response.”

Ryan says that as an experienced breast-feeder, she is extremely modest, and, in that instance, made sure that she was facing into the corner.

“Some women think it’s fine to cover up with a blanket, but a woman shouldn’t be forced to,” said her husband, Michael Ryan.

Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, who sponsored the breast-feeding protection bill, agrees.

“She was not treated right under the new law,” he said. “There should have been no comment made to her at all; the restaurant overstepped its boundaries. There’s no way they can explain their way out of this.”

Thirty-nine states, including Kentucky, allow women to breast-feed in any public or private location.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breast-feeding for about the first six months and support for breast-feeding for the first year and beyond as long as mutually desired by mother and child. But according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 11 percent of mothers meet the six-month mark. Thirty percent breast-feed exclusively for the first three months. Kentucky’s rates are 7.5 percent and 25 percent, respectively, according to a 2007 report.

Scanlon suggested that Ryan had an “agenda.”

“I note with interest that she had a copy of the statute with her,” he said. “I’m glad to let this become a matter that we can all learn from.”

But if all Ryan wanted going into Applebee’s was an anniversary lunch, she may indeed have an agenda now.

August is World Breast-feeding Awareness Month, and Ryan has organized two related public events:

• A “Nurse-In” at the children’s play area at Fayette Mall from 1-3 p.m. Saturday. Ryan says the mall is not a target, but has a place for kids to play.

• From noon to 2 p.m. Sept. 8, she is holding a “Nurse Out” with posters and breast-feeding in front of the Applebee’s on Nicholasville Road.

She’s also asking for a public apology from Applebee’s and training for its employees about the rights of breast-feeding mothers. Some day, she says, she would like to see the international breast-feeding symbol of a mother and child in every restaurant that supports the practice.

“I’m not trying to be provocative,” she said. “I want to teach.”

Reach Linda Blackford at (859) 231-1359 or



  1. I read this article (and others related) and was horrified. I breastfed my son and was appalled and the negativity surrounded when you are in public. As he got older it was almost impossible to keep him covered. Regretfully, I stopped nursing my son. I regret my decision and the next time I will be more confident when nursing in public. I can’t believe big fat men (with breasts bigger than mine) can walk around in public but I can’t feed my child!!! I totally support all mothers rights to nurse in public. Where can I get information on how to show my support?

  2. I’m so sorry you felt pressured to wean your little one before you were ready. I totally agree with you on ANY men allowed to walk around bare boobed and even in NY state it’s legal for women to go topless anywhere men can yet I bet if a topless woman on the beach started using those breasts to feed a baby all hell would break loose.
    To answer your question tho, look for a la leche league group in your area. They should be able to tell you what laws apply to breastfeeding in public in your state, they may have a card or pamphlet you can hand out similar to the one the lady in this case used, there will be more experienced nursing moms with tips on nursing discreetly, what stores have the best nursing lounges, etc, and there may be more extreme activists within the group willing to do nurse ins and demonstrations should you feel pressured again. Hope this helps!

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