Roselle Park councilwoman nurses baby at meetings so other mothers can too
March 14, 2010, 6:12AM
ROSELLE PARK -- The strongest public statement at this month’s Roselle Park council meeting was never entered into the minutes.
Near the end of the meeting, 3rd Ward Councilwoman Larissa Chen-Hoerning brought her 6-week-old son, Enzo, onto the dais with her and began to breastfeed him while the council debated an ordinance regulating overnight truck parking on borough streets.
Chen-Hoerning said that she doesn’t think the act of nursing her baby, discreetly shielded from view by the desk in front of her, should be stigmatized as dirty or shameful.
“I want to help women say ‘Someone else is out there breastfeeding, and maybe it’s OK to do,’” Chen-Hoerning said last week.
Mothers in the United States often face complaints when they nurse in public places like restaurants or stores, according to La Leche League International spokeswoman Loretta McCallister. Over the past few years, a woman was kicked off an airplane for breastfeeding her child, and after Facebook removed photos of a mother and her baby, a petition sprang up on the social network titled “Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!”
But McCallister said despite all of the grassroots support, she has never heard of an elected official like Chen-Hoerning breastfeeding her baby while conducting official business at a public meeting.
The Roselle Park councilwoman is not new to advocating for nursing mothers.
Last summer, at the behest of a then-pregnant Chen-Hoerning, Mayor Joseph DeIorio proclaimed August “Breastfeeding Awareness Month” in the borough.
On several occasions since his birth in January, Enzo has dropped into Roselle Park council meetings for a snack. No one on either side of the dais has batted an eye.
“I was telling someone about it the other day, and they said, ‘Do you nurse on camera?’ and I was like, ‘Well, yeah,’” Chen-Hoerning said.
After the meeting, resident Eugene Meola said the baby was so quiet he hadn’t even noticed him during the meeting. Other residents, Chen-Hoerning said, have expressed their support for her. Former councilman Jacob Magiera, who attends many borough meetings, said last week the councilwoman is modest and perfectly within her rights.
“If other council members don’t object to it, she’s entitled to do what she wants to do,” said Magiera. “If that’s her forte, God bless her.”