Breastfeeding-Friendly Roundup: Recent Highlights and Opportunities for Action

What’s the latest in breastfeeding news these days? Here are a few highlights, which offer opportunities to help create a more breastfeeding-friendly world:

* Best for Babes launched a national hotline for breastfeeding mamas who experience nursing in public harassment. Program this number into your phone now so you have it available should you or someone you know or meet need it: 1-855-NIP-FREE. You can also support the initiative by making a donation. As a thank you for a $3 donation you will receive 10 Thank You for Breastfeeding in Public cards which include the hotline number.

Read the back story to the “Nursing In Public” Harassment Hotline. And find a summary of the first month of calls here. The latter link also mentions something I’m fortunate to personally be involved in supporting – a Best for Babes’ initiative to assist harassed breastfeeding mamas to persuade offending corporations and organizations to institute policy changes and employee training initiatives that support breastfeeding customers and clients.

* The Healthy Baby Bag is a breastfeeding support bag that has been distributed to more than 600 birthing facilities in all 50 states. The antidote to free bags of formula that have been the staple handout at hospitals across this country for way too long, the Healthy Baby Bag is an initiative of Cottonwood Kids, which produces custom breastfeeding-friendly products to help birthing centers meet the needs of new families. Check it out at: www.cottonwood-kids.com

And suggest birthing facilities for them to next approach about their breastfeeding support program at: https://www.facebook.com/cottonwoodkids

* The needs-to-improve-most award goes to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), which serves as the Americas’ regional office of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the health agency of the Organization of American States. PAHO recently accepted $150,000 from Nestle, which is known for violating the WHO Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes, among other private sector giants which pose numerous potential conflicts of interest. Read Annie at PhD in Parenting‘s great summary of the battle playing out and sign a petition to urge PAHO to return the Nestle funds.

Please share anything else newsworthy!

Breastfeeding on Capitol Hill at the Great Nurse-In

Why take breastfeeding – a vital, intimate exchange between a mother and baby – to the West Lawn of the United States Capitol Building? Over 600 mothers and their babies, as well as hundreds more partners, children, and other supporters, gathered in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, August 4, 2012, for just such a cause. The first-ever Great Nurse-In was a peaceful celebration of breastfeeding, designed by local mother Rachel Papantonakis to raise awareness of the need for pro-breastfeeding legislation to support mothers and babies.

A show of hands at the event demonstrated how many women experience mistreatment for breastfeeding in public. It’s way too common, and can easily happen to a discreet breastfeeder. I might not have believed it, until it happened to me. As I explained to the crowd during open-mic time, in my early years of mothering I viewed breastfeeding as a loving exchange between mother and child that should simply take place wherever the hungry baby needed to eat. Being a relatively shy and modest person who also did not want to feel trapped inside my home, I nursed baby discreetly wherever we needed. A total of three uneventful years of nursing in public unfolded and then I experienced breastfeeding harassment at a Pottery Barn store while nursing my second child – just a wee 7-week-old baby. That rude experience taught me that even when we breastfeeding mamas quietly go about our business of caring for our babes, others might try to stand in our way.

Continue reading

Virginia: Behind the Times

When prompted by the Breastfeeding Blog Hop’s theme for this week to write about the laws that protect me as a breastfeeding mother, I suddenly feel vulnerable and defenseless. You see, the manager who asked that I stop breastfeeding in the Pottery Barn store in my home state of Virginia was actually within the law. In terms of where a mother is protected by Virginia law to breastfeed, there is only one very limited category of places: on property owned, leased, or managed by the state. How many Virginia moms do you think want to or even plan their outings with a breastfeeding pit-stop at a state building or park, just to feel covered by the law? Continue reading

My Bittersweet World Breastfeeding Week 2012

It’s so exciting to feel the incredible sisterhood of breastfeeding supporters celebrating our natural means of caring for our little ones during World Breastfeeding Week. Had I never experienced breastfeeding mistreatment firsthand, I would probably not be as tickled by all the hoopla of breastfeeding advocacy that makes early August so fun. If I had the time, I could have spent long hours the last two days immersed in the sea of pro-breastfeeding messages, youtube videos, blog posts, GE’s Olympics commercial, and more floating around the Internet.

So, when asked how I was celebrating World Breastfeeding Week (by the Breastfeeding Blog Hop), I convinced baby we should pause the 10th replay of this sweet video long enough to compose a couple thoughts:

Continue reading

Permission to Eat Please

This week’s Breastfeeding Blog Hop question is “Should you (or would you) ask permission to nurse in public?”

If you’ve read about my experience nursing my newborn at a Pottery Barn store, you know that I didn’t ask permission from the store manager before quieting my fussy baby by discreetly meeting his needs. Minutes later, the manager proceeded to ask me to nurse in their bathroom because there were “children in the store.” Yes, including my very hungry baby who I was quietly nursing until she interrupted us.

It never made sense to me to request permission to nurse in public and I never have. That is not to say I haven’t chosen private or semi-private places over public at various points in my breastfeeding years. I have, but usually to better meet the needs of my baby. For example, if baby was in an easily-distracted stage, I generally chose the calmest setting in which to nurse him.

Discussions about nursing in public tend to focus on the breastfeeding mother. Naturally so, since she is the one making the decision whether or not to breastfeed her baby in a setting where others might be. But what about the perspective of the baby? After all, the reason a woman breastfeeds her baby is because the baby needs to eat to thrive. So, I’m turning this question baby-ward and reframing it as:

“Should you (or would you) ask permission to eat in public, little one?”

Continue reading

Breastfeeding Bliss: A Photo Celebration

This week Breastfeeding Blog Hoppers are discussing how they are doing in terms of their breastfeeding goals. This post is part of the weekly Breastfeeding Blog Hop, hosted by The Slacker Mom, and co-hosted by The Gnome’s Mom and Happiness Redefined. Please visit The Slacker Mom to see the linky list and read everyone’s entries, as WordPress.com can’t show it here.

I am blessed with a dreamy breastfeeding situation right now. I’m at the point where we’re on cruise control. Baby is nearly two years old and nurses a few times a day and generally not at night. Breastfeeding bliss!

This is my third and, as far as I know, final baby, so I am enjoying my reality, finding meditative moments in our quiet nursing sessions, aware that the breastfeeding chapter of my life is nearing its end. So my personal breastfeeding goal is to continue meeting my baby’s nursing needs and enjoy every moment left! Here are some of my favorite pictures of my babies breastfeeding that capture some of our breastfeeding bliss over the years.

Continue reading

Birth of a ​Breastfeeding Advocate

This post is part of the weekly breastfeeding blog hop, hosted by The Slacker Mom, and co-hosted by The Gnome’s Mom and Happiness Redefined. This week’s topic is “What Breastfeeding Advocacy Means to Us.” Please visit The Slacker Mom to see the linky list and read everyone’s entries, as WordPress.com can’t show it here.

This week’s topic is dear to my heart. I was lucky to find help and recover from a rocky start to breastfeeding (see this post) and graduate from sweating-like-crazy nervousness while nursing in public to blissful comfort and ease. Then, I had an experience that shook my breastfeeding world and launched me into breastfeeding advocacy. This is my story. (The following is excerpted and slightly adapted from the About page at Breastfeeding Friendly.)

On a cold March evening, I paused to nurse my hungry baby while shopping at a Pottery Barn store. The store manager approached and asked me to stop breastfeeding my seven-week-old baby. I was shocked and deeply disturbed that such ignorance could interrupt a baby’s basic human need being met. Such mistreatment could even upset a woman to the point that she limits or stops breastfeeding her baby altogether, increasing health risks to her and her baby.

Continue reading

A Breastfeeding-Friendly Approach to Pediatric Care Raises Breastfeeding Rates

Rates of breastfeeding are deeply affected by the support a breastfeeding mother receives – starting with her husband or other adults closely involved in the baby’s care. A key part of a woman’s breastfeeding village is her baby’s pediatric office. In the United States, new parents typically visit pediatric offices five times for well-child visits in the baby’s first six months, compared to one or two postpartum checkups with the woman’s prenatal care-giver.

So how important is the role of the pediatric office in encouraging breastfeeding of its patients? According to a study conducted by a doctoral student at the University of Virginia’s School of Nursing, very important. Sharon Corriveau applied a clinical protocol developed by the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine to a pediatric office. The office trained staff to support breastfeeding, hired a board-certified lactation nurse, eliminated  formula promotions, encouraged mothers to breastfeed, and improved insurance coverage of breastfeeding-related services for their patients.

The findings were impressive. Continue reading

What’s the big deal?

Welcome, Breastfeeding Blog Hop readers! Here is my contribution to this week’s hop, hosted by the Slacker Mom (see links to everyone’s submissions at the bottom of hers), The Gnome’s Mom, and Happiness Redefined. The topic this week is a free-for-all.

After a four-year hiatus from my 1-day foray into blogging, I am coming out of early retirement to share this breaking news:

My 1-year-old just doesn’t get what the big deal is! Why are people (the tall sort – you know, over 36 inches or so) all in a tizzy about breastfeeding in public or in uniform or on a magazine cover or whatever?

Baby-boo, as he’s sometimes known around here, climbed into my lap this morning. His eyes curiously roved the laptop in front of me. His finger pointed at the child nursing from Jamie Lynne Grumet’s breast on the cover of Time, and he exclaimed, “Baby!” A big smile spread across his face.

“Baby! Baby!”

He was delighted to recognize one of his own.

I was amazed. I clarified, “Is that a baby or a big boy?” I figured he’s fascinated with his two big brothers – ages 5 and 8 – and everything that goes with their territory, from Legos to doing “stand-up” pee-pee. He ought to recognize a big boy. Continue reading

Breastfeeding in Public – Pictures Worth a Thousand Words

No doubt you’ve noticed recent images of women breastfeeding on the newsstands or on your computer. Time magazine’s May 12, 2012, cover of a woman breastfeeding her preschooler and the more recent pictures of two women in military uniforms breastfeeding their babies have triggered a loud discussion.

Whatever your stance on breastfeeding, child-led weaning, breastfeeding in uniform/on the job, breastfeeding as depicted by the media and ad campaigns, etc., there is one thing no one can argue: we’re seeing mothers breastfeeding their young and we’re discussing it. Heck, we’re even seeing a mother breastfeeding twins! Breastfeeding is on the public map and that is a very good thing. The more opportunities we have to discuss nature’s design for human survival and how to facilitate that, the better off we’ll be as a species.

Here are a few of my favorites items on the recent news flurry over breastfeeding: Continue reading