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Public Breast-Feeding Sparks Controversy

A Fort Bragg worker who breast-fed her infant in public found that the practice, although legal, can prompt controversy.

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FORT BRAGG, N.C. — A Fort Brgg worker who breast-fed her infant in public found that the practice, although legal, is not always popular.

An anonymous person filed a complaint after Tabitha Redding breast-fed her 3-month-old son, Sean, while on her lunch break at the Coffee Scene in a Fort Bragg mini-mall.

"I covered myself up with this big bib and nursed him, and then I went back to work," Redding said.

Two days later, Redding said her boss called her and told not to nurse at work anymore because the Army and Air Force Exchange Services, which manages military malls, bans it.

The complaint claimed that Redding was nursing behind the counter, said Jason Rosenberg, AAFES acting general manager.

"She can go out into the food court and sit down and breast-feed, and we have no problem at all with that," Rosenberg said.

Redding denied that she would take her baby behind a counter with hot coffee.

She's breast-fed all three of her children at the mall during the seven years she's worked there and never had a complaint before, she said.

"I"ve always been modest about it. I'm trying to make myself as comfortable as the other people," Redding said.

Rosenberg attributed the warning to Redding to "a miscommunication" about AAFES policy.

"I didn't want it to be a battle," Redding said.

She said she wants to make sure, however, that other mothers know their rights.

Under both North Carolina and federal law, women may legally breast-feed in public, even if their breast is exposed.


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