Community Support and Breastfeeding {Make a Difference}

by Mama Bice on July 5, 2013

I would like to start this post with a story.

Imagine a mother – a fresh new mother – with a baby just barely 24 hours old. She drives to another city the day after her birth for her first post-birth checkup with her midwife. After leaving the appointment she and her husband decide to stop for lunch. It is late afternoon, so they have their pick of places as none are crowded. A Red Lobster is calling mom’s name – she is famished after the long work of labor the day before and seafood just sounds heavenly. And maybe a little indulgent too!

Mom, Dad, and newborn are seated right away and order their food. Mom orders crab legs (her favorite!) since baby is sleeping peacefully in his wrap against her chest. Surely he will stay asleep long enough for her to shell the crab and eat. (More experienced moms are probably giggling right now!)

The food comes out, hot and steaming. On cue, baby wakes up and wants to nurse. Mom stares longingly at her plate, knowing she can’t bother with it right now because it takes two hands to get this newborn latched and stable for the whole feed. Dad offers to help her but mom declines – at least one of them should get a hot meal after all.

The server comes out to check that everything is going well. She sees mom’s predicament and says she will be right back. She comes back, with gloves on, and starts to shell all of the mother’s crab legs for her. All the while she talks to the couple about her children, her nursing experiences, and how great it is to see a young mother breastfeeding. She also shares stories of many cold meals because of the uncanny ability of babies to wake just when dinner comes out.

She finishes shelling the still steaming crab and gives the plate to mom. Mom figures out how to support baby’s head with the wrap so she can slide one hand out to eat her still hot dinner! Mom and dad get full bellies with hot food, and so does baby. What could have ended in mom sadly eating stone-cold crab legs instead has a happy ending.

That mother was me. I have *never* forgotten that server’s support and love in that moment, and I never will. One mother, reaching out to another giving simple and practical support. That one encounter gave me the pride and hope and confidence to nurse in public in the years that followed. That one encounter helped my husband to feel 100% comfortable with nursing in public as well – knowing that people would not always be rude to his wife. While we have had rude encounters, I can always look back to this first one and radiate with joy.

The support of the community can make a huge difference for mothers who take the journey through breastfeeding. In fact, in studies and interviews women tend to rate social support as more important than professional support on the duration of their breastfeeding experience 5. Why is this?

The answer is simple – we spend far more time in the world at large than sitting in a professional’s office. We need support from our partners, family, and community at large. We need to feel supported by other mothers. When a person feels like they are doing something alone – no matter what it is – they are far less likely to succeed or meet goals. Emotionally, we feel more able to succeed with social support.

The United States has some of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the world among developed nations, and when you look at the rates of exclusive breastfeeding it becomes especially dismal. While about 75% of woman initiate breastfeeding – this is a very large category and a bit misleading. This includes one attempt in the first days of life. While this is great (so many mothers attempting to breastfeed!), it gives false hope as the total rates of breastfeeding. In 2007, at 6 months of age the rate of exclusive breastfeeding was only 13% 1. Lets keep in mind that six months of nothing but breastmilk is the current recommendation from every major group with an interest in infant health (this includes the AAP and WHO). What is happening to cause a drop from 75% of women attempting to breastfeed, to only 13% succeeding at 6 months?

The simple answer for most cases – lack of proper support. Study after study shows that our support network is vital to breastfeeding success. For most women, one caring and helpful IBCLC cannot undo the “work” of a society that does not really support breastfeeding. While it is possible for a woman to physically or psychologically be unable to breastfeed that sub-section of woman is statistically small – most certainly not 87% of woman or the human race would not have made it very far.

The Surgeon General put out a “Call to Action” in 2011, urging America to support breastfeeding. Much of the document focuses on increasing community support across the board – from the family unit, to the care provider, to society as a whole. Some highlights from the document include:

“Women with friends who have breastfed successfully are more likely to choose to breastfeed. On the other hand, negative attitudes of family and friends can pose a barrier to breastfeeding. Some mothers say that they do not ask for help from their family and friends because of the contradictory information they receive from these sources.” (pg 22)

What this little gem tells us is that mother’s who DO succeed in breastfeeding need to talk about it. We need to share our wonderful experience – it actually encourages other mother’s to more seriously consider breastfeeding in the first place. This also tells us that hearing conflicting and outdated information from “well meaning” family and friends is NOT helpful. (Big surprise there, right?)

Now, there is a whole section on Embarrassment. Yes, in the great nation of America, the Surgeon General actually has to address embarrassment as a barrier to breastfeeding.

“A study that analyzed data from a national public opinion survey conducted in 2001 found that only 43% of U.S. adults believed that women should have the right to breastfeed in public places. Restaurant and shopping center managers have reported that they would either discourage breastfeeding anywhere in their facilities or would suggest that breastfeeding mothers move to an area that was more secluded. When they have breastfed in public places, many mothers have been asked to stop breastfeeding or to leave. Such situations make women feel embarrassed and fearful of being stigmatized by people around them when they breastfeed. Embarrassment remains a formidable barrier to breastfeeding in the United States and closely related to the disapproval of breastfeeding in public. Embarrassment about breastfeeding is not limited to public settings however. Women may find themselves excluded from social interactions when they are breastfeeding because others are reluctant to be in the same room while they breastfeed. For many women, the feeling of embarrassment restricts their activites and is cited as a reason for choosing to feed supplementary formula or to give up breastfeeding altogether.” (pg 23)

This section goes on more but let me pause here. No matter how you choose to feed your child, I hope that above statement leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Only 43% of adults feel that a mother should feed her baby in public. Lets not even give the cop out of breastfeeding and “modesty”. This statistic literally translates to mean that 57% of Americans are uncomfortable with a baby being fed in public in a normal way. Only 28% in this particular study believed that breastfeeding should be portrayed on television 4.

Then we see proof that managers and business owners do ask women to leave if they breastfeed and refuse to move or stop. We see this in the news from time to time, but many people think it is rare. Is it really going to be a rare occurrence when over half of all Americans are uncomfortable seeing normal infant feeding? It also goes on to say that we are not just talking about public situations, that last section literally means that within their own homes and social units, women are being made to feel uncomfortable because they breastfeed. What woman is likely to keep breastfeeding if she doesn’t even have acceptance in her own home or social group?

To continue with the “Embarrassment” section:

” In American culture, breasts have often been regarded primarily as sexual objects, while their nurturing function is downplayed. Although focusing on the sexuality of female breasts is common in mass media, visual images of breastfeeding are rare, and a mother may never have seen a woman breastfeeding. As shown in both quantitative and qualitative studies, the perception of breasts as sexual objects may lead women to feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public. As a result, women may feel the need to conceal breastfeeding, but they have difficulty finding comfortable and accessible breastfeeding facilities in public places.” (pg 23)

This section speaks to how our breasts are viewed. First and foremost in our culture they are viewed as sexual. This context of breasts as primarily sexual is actually not the predominate view in the world as a whole by the way 3. This portion also speaks to an issue that comes up more and more with social media – the posting and viewing of breastfeeding photos. These studies and surveys prove that women need to see breastfeeding. The more you see it, the more normal it becomes.

Our sexual view of breasts did not just evolve from thin air – it evolved through a constant presence of sexual images of breasts in our culture. Simply put, the more we can promote and share the non-sexual view of breasts, the less sexual our breasts will become in the culture as a whole. I, for one, would be very happy to see that happen – not only for breastfeeding rates but also for the self-worth of women in general.

In the last sentence, the Surgeon General notes that even though women may feel compelled to hide breastfeeding because of these pressures, there is no where to hide! Our society seems to insist that we breastfeed “somewhere else” but where exactly is this wonderful place we are supposed to hide? Very few places, especially outside of large cities, have breastfeeding spaces. When was the last time you saw a breastfeeding room at your local grocery?

In the section of the document about ways to help increase breastfeeding rates, special attention is given to educating the fathers/partners and grandmothers. Studies show that lack of support from those two sources can lead to shortened breastfeeding (or never starting). There is also special attention given to strengthening and supporting woman-to-woman support groups, such as local La Leche Leagues or other community breastfeeding groups. Those two actions in our communities would be especially helpful to low-income women, where studies show that social support and acceptance are paramount to breastfeeding success 2.

Now I would like to switch gears. We know that community support can make a difference, but we hear little about it. Normally, we only see stories of mothers being harrassed for feeding their babies. If positive stories and experiences with breastfeeding can make a difference in breastfeeding rates, then we need to share them. I reached out to our support group and got many stories and photos, all about positive experiences with nursing in public!

“The first time I ever breastfed in public was last summer when my daughter was 8 months old. My family and I were on vacation in Austin, TX and we were on a tour in some underground natural caverns.  We were at a resting area and I chose a rock to sit on and started nursing her.  I was so nervous that someone would give me a dirty look or say something rude, but a woman came up to me and thanked me for nursing my baby.  That one little comment gave me the confidence I needed to keep nursing her in public and I have been doing so ever since.” – Jennifer

breastfeeding

“Over Memorial Day weekend there is a big festival by the beach where we live, so my husband and I invited our folks to join us and our 2 month old daughter. It was HOT with very little shade! My daughter was getting fussy so I sat down on a bench behind one of the vender’s who had an umbrella up. My mom, who is easily embarrassed, kept trying to give me a cover but I told her no and proceeded to nurse my baby. The vender turns around to see me nursing my daughter and says, “Good for you! Not enough mother’s breastfeed any more! Keep doing what’s best for your kid.”‘ – Beverly

breastfeeding

“We took a vacation to Vegas with our daughter. We had just finished a limousine ride, and walked back into our hotel. I sat in the lobby and started to breastfeed my little girl. A lady came by and told me breastfeeding is the most beautiful thing in the world! I wish I had taken a picture with her. It was such a positive experience for me.” – Krystal

Below is Brianna nursing at Disneyland. Just a fun fact, from a former Cast Member – Disney Cast Members are instructed specifically in training about the importance of nursing in public and that it is 100% legal and acceptable for women to do so anywhere in the parks or property. Some companies do care!

breastfeeding at Disneyland

Below is Katelyn nursing her son at the aquarium, her supportive husband at her side!

breastfeeding

If you have a positive nursing in public experience, please share it with us! And remember that the “other person” in these stories is someone just like you. Just one person reaching out to another and saying “Good Job” – it can literally change a mother’s whole outlook on breastfeeding. Next time you see a mother nursing in public – no matter how she chooses to do it – give her a smile or even better, a kind word.

References

  1. U.S Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. Washington, DC: U.S Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Surgeon General; 2011.
  2. Pugh, L., Milligan, R., Frick, K., Spatz, D., & Bronner, Y. (2002). Breastfeeding Duration, Costs, and Benefits of a Support Program for Low-Income Breastfeeding Women. Birth: Issues In Perinatal Care, 29(2), 95-100. doi:10.1046/j.1523-536X.2002.00169.x
  3. Wolf, J. H. (2008). Got milk? Not in public!. International Breastfeeding Journal, 31-3. doi:10.1186/1746-4358-3-11
  4. Pettis, C. T., & Miller, M. K. (2007). PROMOTING BREAST-FEEDING THROUGH SOCIAL CHANGE. Women’s Policy Journal Of Harvard, 439-47.
  5. McInnes RJ, Chambers JA. (2008). Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: Qualitative Synthesis. J Adv Nurs. 2008 May; 62(4):407-27. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2008.04618.x.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Rita July 5, 2013 at 7:16 pm

I think one thing that definitely does not help the breastfeeding cause is companies only giving 6 weeks of “maternity leave” (or short-term disability where I work) when some women can’t afford to stay at home to take care of the baby. And on top of that not having a proper space or facility or even the time where and when women could at least pump. I know where I work it would be difficult if at all allowed to take time to pump. It truly is sad.

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Mama Bice July 5, 2013 at 7:45 pm

You are very correct Rita. I am actually going to be doing a follow-up type of post that is going to be all about working mothers and breastfeeding. Their rights, the needs of pumping moms, and alternative work situations that need to become more common (like telecommuting, on-site daycares, and being able to bring baby or have baby brought to you).

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Kim G. July 6, 2013 at 9:53 am

Rita, you are SO correct.

I have been very fortunate to work in a very “mother friendly” environment. We have flex hours which allow me to come in and leave as needed, as long as I get my hours in somehow. I’m able to work from home on days when my daughter is sick. I was encouraged by my co workers and boss to take the full 12 weeks of maternity leave (6 of which were paid). They helped me find a room where I could pump that was closer to my desk since the nursing room (we have a daycare on site, however we don’t use it) was a 7 minute walk for me one way. Because of this support, I have been able to exclusively nurse my daughter going on 5 1/1 months–and planning for even longer.
Breastfeeding was normalized for me from the beginning. My mother never covered when nursing my siblings and it was always presented as a natural way to feed babies. When I had my daughter, I was trying to cover up at my parents’ home because I have a 10 year old brother and wasn’t sure how he would react. My mom told me not to worry about it, that she had already talked to him. I don’t cover anymore. My brother knows that what I’m doing isn’t dirty or wrong and instead, he comes and plays with my baby’s feet while she nurses.
I wish that every woman could have the support I’ve been blessed with. It’s time that my experience becomes the norm and not the exception!

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A-M August 29, 2013 at 4:48 am

Rita you are so right. My workplace is small and mostly male meaning it’s just not set up for pumping. It’s open plan and the toilets (which I wouldn’t want to use anyway!) are tiny, plus there’s only one for each gender so you can’t very well spend half and hour in there and expect it not to cause issue.

I live in the UK, so do get some maternity rights and benefits, however it’s nowhere near what I usually earn so like many women if I didn’t rigorously plan and save, I wouldn’t be financially able to take the time off work I’m entitled to. Now I’m not overly complaining about our maternity benefits (it’s way better than what the USA offers!) but if I knew I could comfortably and successfully pump at work, it would make the decision to return so much easier!

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Katja July 5, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Love the positive twist to this! That is exactly what we need to change things around. I was very fortunate and was only asked once, and politely at that, if I ‘wanted’ to cover up while nursing at a mall. I’ve breastfed 2 children and am still nursing my third. Without ever realizing it though I was that ‘other person’ once when I asked this mom who was sitting by herself in her car in the parking lot if she was nursing. She was, we started chatting and she has been one of my best friends ever since that day 4 years ago.

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Jessica July 5, 2013 at 9:43 pm

I think it is so important to breastfeed and wish I could do a better job of it!! With my 1st set of twins, I had a very low supply and had to go back to work at 3 months. I tried to pump at work, but it was uncomfortable and I didn’t have ample time in my day to do it. So, at 5 months I gave up.

With my 2nd set, we have had latch and supply issues. My goal was to exclusively BF them both, but its just not happening. I now pump about 75% of their milk, and try to nurse one of my boys at least 2x/day. But, I do often feel awkward when we have company over or when I go somewhere and don’t nurse or pump on my 3 hour schedule. I’m always just worried about what people will think if they see my whole breast while I am attempting to latch my baby! (Since we still aren’t great at it at 4.5 months.)

Thank you for this article. I just may have the confidence to nurse in public or in a social situation when the time comes.

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Lacey July 6, 2013 at 12:10 am

Thank you for this. I have an 8 year old daughter which I was only able to BF for 3 weeks due to having to go back to work. I am currently BF’ing my 4 month old and nursed him with no cover for the first time yesterday on Corpus Christi Beach (Celebrating our freedom) ! I also get a little embarrassed and have got dirty looks even with a cover. My spouse is semi supportive, he did not grow up around any family members who BF. My mother didn’t breastfeed us, it is something for generations before me, the women in my family discouraged. Some family members still think it’s gross, etc. My goal at first was to BF for a few months, then went to 6 months, now I want to go to a year. Thanks to this page. I wan to be a strong example for my daughter.

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Randee July 6, 2013 at 12:58 am

I remember many years ago (my daughter turns 18 this week), I was nursing my daughter on a bench at the mall. I don’t remember exactly how old she was, but she was DEFINITELY in the flirty stage. I was therefore using a blanket. Next to me sat an older gentleman. I was a bit worried, because she kept popping out to smile and flirt with him, and then grab a quick snack between eyelash flutters. He never seemed uncomfortable, though. He smiled at her antics, and he continued reading his paper. He never said a word, but his quiet acceptance was very reassuring. It’s still a sweet memory all these many years later.

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Riley Romatz July 6, 2013 at 1:27 am

My daughter is going to be ten months old on the 10th, and I’ve been exclusively breastfeeding since the day she was born. I’ve never had a problem with feeding her in public or even at church! Until this week, I’ve never gotten a dirty look or negative comment, but a woman that works a completely opposite shift from me (who’s constantly harassing other employees and flat out being a bully) told another employee that I shouldn’t be leaving work until noon. I have an agreement with my manager that as long as my job is done well, I’m allowed to leave when its completed. My friend/the employee told her that I leave when I’m done so that I can nurse my daughter, to which her response was “I don’t care about her baby and I don’t care about her nursing! She needs to stay until noon.” This woman doesn’t have any family that speaks to her, no children and absolutely no manners. I’m applying for new jobs now because of the harassment I receive there.

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Melissa July 6, 2013 at 7:17 am

Love this post! I’ve been nursing for over 3 years now (between my son and my newborn daughter) and in public since he was a few months old (and I was physically more comfortable nursing). I’ve fortunately never been given dirty looks (or if I did I didn’t see them) or had someone comment negatively to me, but I’d also never had anyone say anything positive until a few weeks ago. I was at a local park with my toddler and my then 6-week old baby when she woke up hungry from her nap. He was content playing nearby so I sat down in the grass and began to nurse her. Out of no where another mother came over and said “Good for you! I love seeing moms nurse in public. Keep it up!” While I’ve never really been uncomfortable nursing in public, I can’t tell you how nice it was (in my 3+ years of nursing in public) to have a stranger just come up and give me that pat on the back.

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nadine July 6, 2013 at 7:40 am

Oh this brought tears to my eyes; the story about the waitress. I nursed at my husbands aunts house during a Christmas party, and worried about what his 2 aunts would think, as they are super modest. But they both jumped to get me water and said they remembered how thirsty nursing made them (and their babes are mostly all college age and beyond).

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Gwen July 6, 2013 at 8:34 am

I rarely see women breast feeding in public where I live (Columbus, GA) but there is a BF group that meets twice a week at the library, BF classes offered by the hospitals and community, and not one but TWO baby-friendly hospitals in town. With all that support, you’d think I’d have more opportunities to say “You are so awesome and you’re doing a great job!” I hope that someone will do that for me when I have my turn. Positive feedback leaves its mark and can drown out a great deal of negativity. Keep doing what you’re doing, mommas. Feed those babies!

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Lyndsay Chae Deurmier July 6, 2013 at 11:20 pm

My mom has been recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer and breastfeeding reduces the risk of it. Well, I was sitting outside of her clinic feeding my two month old son and a old catholic woman came up to me and put her hand on my shoulder and told me, “I remember when I breastfed my children. It was so important, and great experience. It is so good for baby. What an amazing gift you’re giving. May God bless you and your baby.” and she touched my sons head and smiled. I knew it made her day and I knew it made mine.

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Liz July 6, 2013 at 11:26 pm

I live very close (7 miles) from the Idaho border and go shopping at a mall there frequently (a few times a month.) ID doesn’t have *any* laws protecting breastfeeding mothers so I am always a little leery about bfing there because I wouldn’t have the law on my side to back me up. Once, when my son was very young (maybe a few months old?) an old lady came up to us while I was nursing and just sat and chatted with me about her daughter and granddaughter. It was the simplicity of the conversation that struck me as supportive–treating me just like any other person, like what I was doing was so normal that it didn’t even need mentioning. I’ve never forgotten that :)

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Helen M. July 6, 2013 at 11:35 pm

I was nursing at a social gathering for a toddler program that my daughter attends. A woman came up to me and told me how awesome it is to see women nursing out in the open “as it should be”. It was pretty darn fantastic! Love to hear stories like this though!

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Eliza July 7, 2013 at 12:39 am

I recently made the decision to NOT cover-up when nursing in public as my way of helping other women feel comfortable or have the courage to NIP themselves (plus I feel like my cover was more like a giant bib shouting to the world, “Look at me! But don’t look at me!”) On the 4th of July a woman came up to me after I finished nursing my 3 month old sans cover and she thanked me and told me that she was impressed and that I made it seem so normal all the while still being modest. I consider it one of the greatest compliments of my life :)

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Camille July 7, 2013 at 8:20 am

Here is my positive story: When my baby was a few days old, he had to go to the NICU and I had to start pumping for him since I couldn’t remove him from the bassinet to feed him. My family came to visit and support me, and walked right in on me pumping for my newborn. They did not act embarrassed or unnatural at all – they were there to support me and encourage me to do whatever I needed to breastfeed my child. I had been a new mom for all of three days, but at that moment I realized that my new role as a mom would be welcomed with open arms into my family. It was so encouraging and ask me if I feel embarrassed at all breastfeeding in public after the experience of pumping in public!! Nope :)

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Elizabeth July 7, 2013 at 9:57 am

This is a wonderful post with such a positive vibe. The breastfeeding in public issue is such a hot topic these days. I always say if someone is offended by me feeding my baby, then they can put a blanket over THEIR head. Here’s an amazing mom’s spoken word about hiding in bathroom stalls after being shamed about breastfeeding in public: tiny.cc/3a0tzw. Take a moment to click on through. This will have an impact on any mom.

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Lyndsey July 7, 2013 at 10:15 am

My husband and I are expecting our first. I love to share the staggering statistics with my husband who just seems astonished. When I told him your little fact that only 75% even try and less than a quarter are still doing it at 6 months, he was shocked. “Why wouldn’t you? Isn’t that what you were designed to do?” It’s encouraging to know he’ll have my back. It has sparked interesting conversations though. He mentioned that maybe I should at least have a cover and I started telling him that baby might get hot, it might be hard to see baby, and it could be hard to coordinate. Then I asked him if we were out to dinner with friends and I needed to nurse, where should I go? I think for a culture that doesn’t breastfeed normally, it’s quality questions to ask. My mom loved breastfeeding and I hope to have similar experiences.

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Sharla July 7, 2013 at 11:04 am

Rita, I agree. I went back to work fulltime after my son was born and as a result it seriously stunted my ability to nurse my son. He ended up being primarily on formula because I wasn’t responding to the pump. With my daughter I took the standard time as well as an extra month (even though its been a financial struggle) for maternity leave. I am now working only one day because I so deparately wanted to breastfeed my baby. It has still been a struggle but I am so grateful for the experience. (I actually want more kids just so I can do it again! lol)

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Carolyn Campbell July 7, 2013 at 11:41 pm

I have three children, 5 years 3 years and 2 months old. I breast feed my sister2 month old. I breast fead my other two children for one year and I’m gonna do the same for my newborn.Us moms who breast feed know what are babies get and they are always healthier.

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Anne July 8, 2013 at 5:16 am

I will never forget the day I was breastfeeding my eldest, then about 14 months old, in the public library. I’d grown up in California where I was blessed to see breastfeeding everywhere (and my mother always told us how she had made a point to breastfeed us even though it “wasn’t done” back then because she had researched and knew it was better for us! This was in the 70s to 80s.) But I was currently living in Texas- where I had seen one mama breastfeeding in public, ever, other than myself, even in the “big city” where I lived.

I was sitting enjoying a book as my toddler (she was tall for her age and already walking- clearly a toddler) settled in to nurse, on a comfy couch in the reading area, when, as I glanced up from my book, I saw a woman notice me nursing and head over. Inwardly, I groaned. I’d had a few encounters but mostly with family members, and wasn’t looking forward to a public confrontation with a stranger. I put on my proud mama tiger face, ready to defend my baby’s and my rights, with TEETH.

The woman sat down in the armchair near us, and asked how old my beautiful little girl was. I responded that she was 14 months, bracing for, “Don’t you know she should be using a cup by now?” (She did use a cup by then, by the way. But not when she wanted her na-nas!) Or perhaps it would be “She’s very sweet but you really shouldn’t do that here.” Oh, the sickly sweetness of Southern correction!

I was, therefore, about knocked over (good thing I was sitting down!) when the lady said, “Oh, how wonderful! I just came over because I want to THANK YOU for nursing in public.”

She went on to explain that she had come into town from a small little town/village about 30 minutes away to run some errands, but she was a lactation consultant! And in the town where she lived, there was a 30% INITIATION RATE for breastfeeding. That means less than 1 in 3 women in her town breastfed their babies EVEN FOR ONE DAY. By six months, the rate in her town was just about zero. Not one baby that she’d seen had made it to six months on breastmilk (at all, not even exclusively.)

She told me again that what I was doing was “wonderful”- both nursing my baby, and proudly doing it in public, which might give other women the courage to do so. She told me that if I ever made it out to her town, she would meet me at the diner and buy me a burger and shake so I could breastfeed my baby there and show the women of the town it could and should be done! I never took her up on that offer, but the praise has stayed with me- not only the sense that I’m doing what’s best for my babies (I’ve gone on to nurse that little girl, who is now nine, and her little sisters subsequently, until they weaned themselves, and am currently nursing another nine month old little girl, who had nothing but my milk until she started feeding herself table food and will continue to have it until she’s done with it too) but that I am also doing my sisters in my community a favor, by showing them that there is nothing to be ashamed of in nursing when your baby (or older than a baby child) needs milk, wherever you are!

And I’ve taken my cue from her as well- when I see a young mother alone nursing a baby, I make eye contact, smile, maybe give her a thumbs up. If she looks lonely, I go on over to talk to her, and encourage her, and let her know that she is doing a wonderful thing, not only for her baby but for all the women and girls around her!

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Debbie July 8, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I took two plane rides with my first child when he was a baby. The first trip, I noticed an elderly woman in the waiting area who looked a bit sour, and I thought “I hope I don’t end up sitting next that grumpy old lady on the plane!” Of course, she ended up sitting right next to us… and turned out to be incredibly kind and helpful the entire trip. She wasn’t bothered by the breastfeeding, the crying, or even the stinky diaper, and spent the entire plane ride providing an extra set of hands whenever we needed them. For the second trip, a middle-aged business man sat next to me, and I was very nervous that he would be offended by my son breastfeeding. He must have sensed my nervousness the first time I latched my son on, because he struck up a conversation about how his wife had breastfed both their children, and how he was happy to sit next to a breastfeeding mom because he knew others might not be as supportive. Both of these wonderful people greatly eased the stress of traveling with a baby.

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Lady Jah September 16, 2013 at 5:16 pm

I still have some time until I deliver my third boy but I want to start shopping and stocking up. I was an unsuccessful breastfeeder with my first two boys. I breastfed for one month and cried every time they had to feed. I don’t know if what I was doing was wrong or if they weren’t latching on right but I bled every time and scabbed up and couldn’t heal right. This is my last child and want this time to be successful so I need a little help. I want to know what I need, what can help, and what I might have done wrong that I need to change this time. I pumped as well and that even made me cry. I’m really worried I will fail with this last one again. I need all the help I can with supplements, lotions, creams, pads, shields, etc. Please help.
Thank you.

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Ginnie June 10, 2014 at 5:12 pm

I’m not sure if someone gave you this bit of advice already, but my mom gave it to me when I became pregnant and it was a life saver!

I have super sensitive skin, one of the problems including my nipples being easily irritated and dry in the summer. Knowing this (and sharing the same problem) my mom told me to put lanolin on my aereolas and nipples everyday during pregnancy. This made them VERY supple, soft, and tough, and by the time I had my baby, I had no cracking or bleeding. I haven’t put on the lanolin since the birth, but putting it on for nine months had done WONDERS for me. I no longer have dry, itchy nipples in the summer, and I have yet to have any bleeding or cracking from bfing (been doing it for nearly four months now).

Again, not sure if you have received this particular bit of advice, but it did so well for me that I think I should share it nonetheless. :) Good luck with your next baby!

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Mrs. BWF June 10, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Another great option is Earth Mama Angel Baby nipple butter.

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Katy June 10, 2014 at 8:58 pm

I had a positive experience while I was having an eye exam done. The doctor did the exam while I was nursing my son. He didn’t say anything positive but he treated me with respect and didn’t make me feel weird about it. I also used a cover a lot in the beginning of my breastfeeding journey but then my son started to just pull it over so he could see what was going on. I was nervous about nursing in front of my male friends and was worried about what their wives would think (None of them had kids yet). I asked them and they were all very supportive and just told me to feed my kid! I never used a cover again around them and didn’t feel like I needed to be in another room missing out on the fun!

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