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‘Breastfeeding Welcome’ restaurant signs spark national debate

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"Breastfeeding Welcome" signs are popping up all over Decatur, Ga.-- and some people aren't happy about it. (Courtesy FOX 5)

A movement in Georgia to stop the stigma against mothers breastfeeding in public is drawing support, instigating backlash and sparking a heated debate across the country.

Sophie Mumper, a senior at Decatur High has been posting “Breastfeeding Welcome” signs at restaurants across the city of Decatur, Ga. for her senior project. She told FOX 5 that she has approached dozens of restaurants and so far ten have agreed to support her project aimed at destigmatizing public breastfeeding.

"There's no need to feel shame," Mumper told FOX. She received the signs from the Georgia Breastfeeding Coalition, an advocacy group for moms across the state, to give to local establishments. 

Restaurants that have agreed to participate say they want all patrons to feel welcome and want mothers with babies to know they can bring their kids—and feed them—without being judged by patrons or staff.

"Unfortunately women do have to second guess whether it’s safe to feed their baby," said Maria Moore Riggs, owner of Revolution Donuts, who agreed to post a “Breastfeeding Welcome” sign outside of her bakery.

Online, many have joined the conversation in support on Mumper’s project. Thousands of commenters have remarked about the story. 

"I'm sorry but I breastfeed any and everywhere! I don't need a sign to tell me too. But kudos to this restaurant!!" wrote one supporter on Facebook.

But not everyone is on board with the mission of the Breastfeeding Coalition, which has national ties.

"Restaurants wouldn't be ready for that attention," one restaurant worker, who believes public breastfeeding makes other patrons uncomfortable, told FOX 5.

"That's private- you and your baby," said another woman, who believes breastfeeding should be done behind closed doors.

Laws regarding public breastfeeding vary from state to state. In Georgia, the law allows women to breastfeed anywhere in public, but the Georgia Breastfeeding Coalition says many mothers still face backlash from establishments, which are not subjected to any legal repercussions.

Last month, an Ohio mother claimed a Pizza Hut employee asked her to leave the restaurant when she began breastfeeding her child at the table.