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

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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

Dieting in a Breastfeeding-Friendly World

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 “Dieting while Breastfeeding” Please visit The Slacker Mom to see the linky list and read everyone’s entries, as WordPress.com can’t show it here.

One aspect of a Breastfeeding-Friendly World, as I imagine, is that it is a place where every nursing mother feels happy eating a healthy, balanced diet, free of societal pressure to “regain her figure” in record time. It is a world in which we trust a woman’s body to transform in amazing ways into pregnancy and then beyond into breastfeeding, giving it time and space to make incredible changes naturally. It is a world that supports mothers to care for their little ones and themselves without worrying unnecessarily about their own body image.

However, in the United States, we live in the polar opposite world. We live in a world selling fantasies about the human body, at great cost to our physical and mental health. The media and the American public is obsessed with celebrities who lose their baby weight and slip into bikinis in record time, filling new mother’s heads with the idea that getting their pre-pregnancy body back is of the utmost importance, which pushes some to diet dangerously and even put their ability to breastfeed at risk. This culture’s warped, over-sexualized view of a woman’s body idealizes her pre-pregnancy state. It even demonizes a woman who uses her breasts for nature’s primary purpose: to feed her baby.

If you read my last Blog Hop post, you know that I was told on the fourth day of my first son’s life that he was failing to thrive because he wouldn’t latch on to breastfeed. One lactation consultant later, I was committed to doing whatever it took to feed my baby and help him thrive. My luxuriant nursling left me with hours upon hours of time with my feet up to read. I read breastfeeding books. Continue reading

Learning to Let Go (and the Benefit of a Good Let Down)

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 “How Often Do You Nurse?” Please visit The Slacker Mom to see the linky list and read everyone’s entries, as WordPress.com can’t show it here.

How often do you nurse sounds like a simple question. For me, I learned the hard way how important it is to respond to baby’s needs. If you simply want the frequency, skip to the bottom. If you want to go along for a ride with me down memory lane, welcome:

The day after my first baby was born, I was high on life, jazzed from birthing him and meeting the new love of my life. The effects of the crazy-long (68 hour), super-exhausting labor had not fully kicked in, and the flood of post-partum mothering hormones were working wonders on me. To top it off, I was a natural at breastfeeding. Or so I thought.

Little one was actually not so little. He weighed in at 9 pounds, 12 ounces. Being such a big guy meant he was really hungry and wanted to nurse a lot. But I was clueless about the specifics of breastfeeding and did my best to stave off the formula-pushing nurses in the postpartum unit, who were decades behind the angels in labor and delivery. So I simply nursed baby every couple of hours for 20 minutes on each side, as instructed. After all, I had spent the first thirty years of my life as a good Type-A personality and thrived off doing things by the book.

But baby wanted more than that. Much more. My sore nipples didn’t think he could want to nurse that much. So his daddy patiently wore a path in the hospital room floor. 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

Return to the Blog

Dear Reader(s),

As you may have noticed, I started this blog in 2008 and have entered nothing since the day it went live. I think I did mention “gradually” adding to it. Let’s remember, many good things happen only once every four years: the Olympics and Leap Year for example!

Now to explain: A colorful and challenging string of life’s adventures has held higher priority in my life the last four years than growing and maintaining a blog. It’s funny (to me) that this is a blog, because at the time I set it up, all I was really looking to do was get a copy of my letter to Pottery Barn regarding the mistreatment I received while breastfeeding in one of their stores out on the internet. I had numerous requests from other breastfeeding moms for the letter after the article about my experience ran in Mothering magazine and thought it’d save us all time to put the letter out there.

Anyhow, back to 2008. Quick research on the best way to get the letter out there resulted in me setting up a free WordPress blog. Blog? I hadn’t planned to blog. At the least the letter would be available to the world. Blog? Huh. What would I write about or feature? How could I use the blog to have a positive impact on the breastfeeding landscape? Blog? Maybe… So, I started with a couple basic entries.

And then my 20-month-old lobbed a matchbox car at my laptop screen. Crack! Continue reading

Laura Alber Reinforces Pottery Barn’s Breastfeeding-Friendly Stance

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!

 International Breastfeeding Symbol

Welcome to Breastfeeding Friendly

I dream of our world being breastfeeding friendly. I dream of attitudes, policies, support, resources, and smiling faces surrounding every mama caring for her baby.

I dream of support as simple as a book from a friend, an example set by a confident nursing woman at the store, or a word of support from a relative. In a breastfeeding-friendly world, I imagine a pregnant woman’s path toward motherhood might include breastfeeding classes and discussions with her health care providers about what to expect during that first nursing session. Following the baby’s birth, I envision it might include a husband’s loving embrace or the valuable assistance from a midwife, nurse, or lactation consultant as baby latches on for the first time, connecting with the body that has nourished it for nine months in a new way, deriving superior health and developmental benefits. Weeks later, as a new mama ventures out with her newborn to new places, a breastfeeding-friendly world implies accommodating a mother in need of nursing her baby.

It means strangers walking by smile admiringly, happy to see the beautiful biological norm of a human baby feeding. It means a mother, relaxed and confident that she is supported in her new role as she provides for her baby. It means a working mother receiving support from her employer to pump breastmilk for her baby. It means a baby experiencing life as nature intended.

I have experienced such support a myriad of times in my role as a breastfeeding mother. I am grateful to all who created such breastfeeding-friendly environments.

However, I had one experience of breastfeeding mistreatment at a Pottery Barn store that led to the creation of this site – a blog that I hope will inspire and equip others to create a more breastfeeding-friendly world. I welcome you to read more about it in the About section and in “Birth of a Lactivisit,” my personal essay which appeared in the July/August 2008 issue of Mothering. I plan to gradually enrich this blog with resources and more stories about creating a breastfeeding-friendly world, and invite you to share your resources and stories too.

Thanks for visiting and come again soon.  And thanks to all of you who encouraged me to start this blog!