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
* 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 →
Laura Alber deserves the first Breastfeeding-Friendly Award. That’s it. We’ll start an award – but more on that later. Let me share the latest on her rise to breastfeeding promotion heights!
Hopefully you’ve caught the low-down on my Pottery Barn breastfeeding mistreatment and all that ensued from this site, Mothering, or talks on the playground. If not, read “Birth of a Lactivist” to truly appreciate this:
After “Birth of a Lactivist” appeared in the July/August 2008 issue of Mothering and the kind staff there sent me the pdf of the essay, I forwarded it to Laura Alber, President of Williams-Sonoma and the Pottery Barn brand. She’s the one who made things right after the mistreatment.
Alber emailed back less than half an hour later. She applauded the article and said she plans to send it to all Pottery Barn stores as a friendly reminder of their new breastfeeding-welcome-here policy. Way to seize the opportunity.
On a personal note, she added that she’ll share it with her mother, a lactation consultant! “She will be proud.”
Yes, she should be proud — of you Laura. Well done!