What is the law in your state?

The states in the US vary widely in the implementation of laws that protect a breastfeeding mother and baby...

Breastfeeding gift ideas for an expecting mom

A reader asks: I am attending a baby shower for a friend. I'd like to get her something that will help make her breastfeeding experience more comfortable. What should I buy?

The sole requirement for NIP

During my pregnancy with my youngest son, one of the parts of motherhood that I looked most forward to was nursing. ...

International and Religious views of NIP

Think nursing in public is only a concern in the United States? If so, is it our religious roots that has instilled our country's prudish (and misguided) desire for "discretion"?

Where are our breastfeeding role models?

I saw a woman breastfeeding her three month old son while walking around the busy farmer's market yesterday morning...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Why Children Should Witness Breastfeeding in Public

A child's life is made up of moments. Children learn by observing and interacting with their world, and every moment adds up to form the basis for the values, beliefs, habits, and memories which will carry them into adulthood. This seems obvious, but what does it have to do with breastfeeding?

Well, what happens if children never witnesses breastfeeding? What if they spend their entire childhood seeing only bottle feeding, both in the media and among the people they interact with? What if a young girl or boy grows up surrounded by sexualized images of breasts but never, or only rarely, witnesses the normal, natural act of breastfeeding a baby? There are some fortunate children who witness their mother breastfeeding a younger sibling, but one look at the breastfeeding rates in the US today will tell you that they are likely not seeing the nursing relationship last for very long.

I am fortunate. My own experience with nursing in public has been wonderful, despite having never seen a woman breastfeed up close and in person until pregnant and attending an LLL meeting. My husband is supportive, I don't work outside the home, and I have never been directly criticized or asked to cover up. My son is almost 18 months and still nurses quite frequently - some days more than when he was an infant! I nurse him in public anywhere and everywhere he wants to. I've noticed that as he's growing older and finding his independence, he needs to come back to me when overwhelmed with his environment, to calm and center himself by nursing. This means that some days he tends to nurse in public more than he does at home. I can’t imagine what life would be like if I was uncomfortable with nursing in public. We have nursed at a wedding, a funeral, a graduation, birthday parties, on airplanes, trains, buses, subways, parks, playgrounds, museums, cafes, restaurants, even on amusement park rides. Everywhere I go, he goes, and so nursing goes.

Recently, we traveled to Scandinavia. In the three weeks we spent in Sweden and Denmark, I observed three women nursing babies, uncovered, at the table at restaurants, and many others nursing at parks and playgrounds. In my entire life living in the US, I can recall seeing only one woman nursing at a restaurant, and very few in other public places aside from breastfeeding gatherings and LLL meetings. The cultural contrast between Scandinavia and the US was incredible to take in, particularly in how I observed children reacting to the sight of breastfeeding. In Scandinavia, I never once saw a child or a child’s parents react with alarm, disgust, shame, or even slight concern when they witnessed myself or other women breastfeeding in public. On a train in Denmark, a group of 15+ teenage boys boarded while I was nursing my son. One sat right next to me and offered a kind smile. Another boy noticed and looked for a second but didn't behave awkwardly at all. The rest likely glanced my way at some point (they were only a few feet away from me), but none acted like it was a big deal - probably because in Denmark, as well as in Sweden, breastfeeding rates are much better than in the US, and the sexualization of breasts is much less profound.

In contrast, here in the Northeast US, I have had several experiences with nursing around groups of pre-teen and teenage boys. What has happened every time was this: one boy noticed, and immediately a storm of whispers, giggles, double-takes, stares and/or shyly averted eyes commenced. "Her boob is out! Pass it on!" While somewhat amusing, it's terribly sad. The reason these boys are so giddy and awkward around the sight of my nursing breast is likely because women's breasts are viewed as almost strictly sexual in the United States. Nipples are powerful enough to trigger massive media uproar and federal investigation when exposed in a “family setting.” Yet we flaunt breasts during primetime television broadcasts. Breasts sell products and ideas, and are widely fetishized. I take no issue with breasts being sexual, but they also need to be seen as nurturing. I believe the view of breasts as solely sexual is one of the primary reasons that so many people seem to think breastfeeding should be done in private, and are against nursing in public, especially uncovered. Breasts are too powerful and too sexualized for many people - that view can trigger a sort of cognitive dissonance when witnessing a sex object being used by a child for nurturance and sustenance. When breasts are seen only in a sexual way, it's no surprise that it could be confusing and disturbing to see a baby's (or worse: a young child's) head in the way of an observer's mental sexual objectification. It's time that our society re-conceptualizes breasts as both sexual and nurturing, and stops shaming women for using their breasts in either manner.

I believe that nursing in public is one of the best things a breastfeeding mother can do for society as a whole - not just to give her own child a healthy start, but to give other people's children the opportunity to see mothering and nurturance at the breast as normal, healthy, and enjoyable. Nursing in public helps re-normalize breastfeeding as the biologically optimal means of feeding a baby, and of comforting and nurturing a toddler or young child who no longer needs breastmilk for nutrition. It is appalling to hear news stories or personal anecdotes about breastfeeding mothers being asked to cover up when they nurse around children not their own. The only real reason people ask a woman to hide breastfeeding when she's around children is if the person doing the asking views breasts as sexual or the act of breastfeeding as too intimate for public view. Yet, breastfeeding is not at all sexual. Why do some people see breastfeeding in that light? Perhaps because they haven't seen enoughbreastfeeding to internalize how normal and natural it is. To convey to children that they should not be witnessing breastfeeding makes it a taboo, a secret, something dirty or shameful that must be done in private – like using the bathroom or engaging in sexual activity, both of which are sometimes ignorantly equated with breastfeeding. Children who receive that message enough may grow up to be adults who don't want to breastfeed, who have to overcome psychological hang-ups in order to breastfeed, who shame or scold women who do breastfeed, or who discourage friends and family members from breastfeeding. Those attitudes harm children and women and society as a whole.

One of the easiest ways to reach children is on an individual level, by simply being visible to them and engaging them, answering their questions if so presented. A young girl who saw me nursing my son when he was an infant looked on in pure astonishment and asked me “what are you doing to him?!” as though I was hurting my baby. I simply smiled and told her I was breastfeeding him, that this was how he ate. It seemed as though she had never before seen a woman nursing a baby prior to observing me. I hope that her interaction with me provided her with a positive memory, and hopefully a question or five to ask her parents. Imagine if she saw another woman nursing in public the next week and every week after that. Eventually, it would cease to be a source of astonishment for that little girl and would become just a simple fact of mothering.

To change our culture’s perception of nursing in public and improve social support of breastfeeding as a whole, we need to start with children. We need to make nursing in public so boring, so quotidian, that it garners no more of a glance or second thought than seeing someone drinking a coffee or hugging a friend in public. We need to allow and encourage children of all ages to regularly and repeatedly witness the beautiful and natural act of breastfeeding, so they will grow up thinking nothing much of it, simply expecting it to be a part of their own parenting lives.

“Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.” – Albert Einstein

We are proud to host a guest post today from Rachel. Rachel is a crunchy mom hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of NYC. She writes at Free Childhood!, a personal blog about her parenting journey and strong beliefs about the need for children to be honored, supported, and respected in their freedom and autonomy. She is a fierce advocate for attachment parenting, breastfeeding, homebirth, intactivism, and unschooling and has a low tolerance for misspellings.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Marketing Breastfeeding: Your Ideas

New Spanish breastfeeding campaign
from the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition.
Support them!

We've heard from a lot of readers this week about what they think the "breastfeeding essentials" are, and we've seen quite a few comments about how breastfeeding organization should not market breastfeeding.

What we want to hear about are your ideas to market breastfeeding to the masses.

Do you have an advertising idea that reinforces one of the positive aspects of breastfeeding?

How would you give breastfeeding a makeover so that women view it as glamorous, sexy, essential? Or fill in your adjective - what attributes do you think we can emphasize to make breastfeeding more acceptable, appealing, desirable to more women?

You don't have to have a degree in marketing to come up with a catchy campaign. One ordinary father recently revealed his advertising prowess when he came up with a new slogan for the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition's Spanish breastfeeding campaign (pictured in this post).

So let's hear it: give us your ideas for advertisement. Think about magazine ads, television commercials, YouTube videos, pictures splashed across billboards or buses, signs to put up in doctors' offices, flyers to put in hospital take-home bags. Who knows, your idea could be the next big ad campaign!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Essential Thing Is Breastfeeding Itself

We are proud to host today's post, which was written by Bettina Forbes, CLC and Danielle Rigg, JD, CLC - the Co-Founders of the Best for Babes Foundation. Bettina and Danielle wrote this response to the guest post published on Monday entitled "Inadvertent Booby Traps." We appreciate the chance to host a discussion about "breastfeeding essentials" and their marketing, and encourage your thoughtful comments on both this and Monday's post.

First, just to clarify, the Fit Pregnancy "Breastfeeding Essentials" section in question is actually an advertorial, which according to answers.com is "an advertisement designed to promote the interests or opinions of a corporate sponsor, often presented in such a way as to resemble an editorial". We don't have a lot of experience in the publishing world but from what we've seen, one of the benefits of advertorials is that they allow several smaller companies whose ads would get lost in a big magazine to be grouped together under a common theme. We've seen advertorials in fashion magazines, in-flight magazines, business publications, you name it. In any case, we think it's very important to draw a distinction between editorial and advertisement.

The Best for Babes message about the "Booby Traps" is next to the advertorial section but is not related to the giveaway or any of the products any more than the nursing cover up in the advertorial is related to the breast pump.  

Fit Pregnancy is a media sponsor of Best for Babes, which means that they help raise awareness of our organization and our message to hundreds of thousands of moms every month, for which we are extremely grateful. We have no control over the placement of any editorial or advertising placement of our logo or message, we are just glad to have it made visible. As a tiny non-profit with an extremely limited budget, we rely on media sponsors to help get the message out.  By the way, Peg Moline, the Editor in Chief of Fit Pregnancy, nursed both of her daughters for 3 years each and is extremely supportive of breastfeeding, which is one of the many reasons we are so happy to have a relationship with them.
Since we're talking about an advertisement, we think it's important to remember that any company can advertise it's products as essential, and we see it in advertising all the time, whether it's "essential" work-out gear,  or "necessities for the nursery," it's a marketing term that is used everywhere (even the formula industry). Moms are pretty discriminating, and rely heavily on word-of-mouth, not just advertisements, to decide what they truly need. What is "essential" for one mom may not be for another.  

That said, we understand the author's fundamental concerns over using the word "essentials" in advertising or editorials, especially because one of us spent twenty years working with and volunteering with an at-risk, low-income population -- a life-changing experience which profoundly influenced our decision to found Best for Babes. We 100% agree that the only 2 things "essential" for breastfeeding are at least one boob and a baby, and we use that phrase frequently!

It is a complex issue, however, because it is also true that there are a number of things that can make breastfeeding more comfortable, appealing and convenient for moms, and many of the products that have come out in the past several years have truly been a tremendous boon -- whether it's a more affordable, efficient breast pump, or a really good nursing pillow. Sure, you can hand express, but tell that to a mom who needs to type while pumping in her office! (On the other hand, some companies market  pumps so aggressively so as to imply that you can't breastfeed without them, which really bugs us -- but that is the subject of other excellent posts, like this one at Dou-la-la and this one at Blactating -- very interesting reading, we promise!).

As for the cover-up issue, it  has been hotly debated, and we agree with Annie at PhD in Parenting, that to cover or not to cover should be a mother's personal decision -- if a cover-up makes her more comfortable, than who are we to tell her what to do? In our opinion, if breastfeeding advocates really want to market breastfeeding without a coverup, than perhaps we should take some tips from history and look at how companies successfully marketed the bikini to a culture that was squeamish about nudity and could only bathe fully dressed!

We need to create more appealing images and messages that show moms that it is possible to be nurturing and glamorous at the same time, and that make breastfeeding desirable and attractive -- messages like the ones in Fit Pregnancy, and in the recent PSA campaign by the Bump.com. We would love for the pregnancy and parenting media companies to help us enlist celebrities to breastfeed (without cover-ups) on the red carpet, and to spread awareness of Best for Babes and the "Booby Traps". . . that alone might just change the culture faster than you can say Angelina Jolie on the cover of W magazine.  

Here's the kind of giveaway
we REALLY don't like!
In our opinion, the bigger issue is that we much prefer a breastfeeding giveaway to a formula giveaway. Whether we like it or not, advertisements are the bread and butter of magazines, and we'd rather that moms flipping through the magazine see breastfeeding gear than formula ads. So far I don't know of a single high-circulation pregnancy or parenting magazine that doesn't run formula ads. While we love Mothering, their circulation is a fraction of the bigger mags like Parents; they simply do not have the reach into the mainstream that we wish they did. (We never saw a formula ad in Cookie magazine, but they went out of business before we got a chance to thank them or acknowledge them publicly.)

If we want breastfeeding companies to become large enough to run ads that can replace the formula ads in magazines, then we need to help them grow. Of course it's a delicate balance, because as the author of the post says, we don't want expecting or new moms to think breastfeeding is more complicated or needs more accoutrements than it actually does.

At the same time, we think that the breastfeeding industry has an important role to play in breaking down cultural and institutional barriers -- they have the marketing skills and dollars to "sell" breastfeeding and have done a great job giving breastfeeding a more appealing image! Many breastfeeding companies also provide lots of useful information and support, and in our opinion, the best ones donate to breastfeeding non-profits to help beat the "boobytraps" -- we were thrilled to see that Ameda is donating to the Human Milk Bank Association, and that Lansinoh donated $20,000 to the Hale Infant Risk Center.

Finally, we think it's important to remember that formula was marketed in the 1950s and 1960s as a luxury item, as "essential" to the independence and convenience of the "modern" mom, with the latest advances in "technology and science". This brilliant marketing tactic is precisely why infant formula was so successfully adopted by the low-income population; it was viewed as the ultimate status symbol to be able to formula feed your baby. It is a tactic that influences low income parents around the world to this day, who see breastfeeding as something only poor people do, and who willingly shell out their scarce dollars to buy (or request, if they are eligible for WIC) the formula with the "gold ribbon" on it, or that is labled "premium" even though it is no different from the store brand, and is far inferior to "on tap" or donated human milk in every way, except for in the extremely rare case of galactosemia. (Nowhere is this more painfully obvious than in China, where the sickening of 300,000 babies due to melamine tainting in infant formulawas barely a speed-bump in the rush to buy the more expensive and better marketed imported brands -- the formula business in China is booming).

We believe that the breastfeeding community can learn a lot from the outrageously successful marketing of infant formula. If using the term "breastfeeding essentials" can help market breastfeeding, and can make it more appealing and even coveted, then we are all for it. The term also creates a neat juxtaposition that could possibly foster transference in the mind of the reader . . . he or she may just walk away thinking that the most essential thing is breastfeeding itself, and that is the best outcome of all.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Inadvertent Booby Traps

I recently saw that Fit Pregnancy magazine is working with BestforBabes to promote breastfeeding and avoid "Booby Traps" (barriers to successful breastfeeding), and is hosting a giveaway of "breastfeeding essentials".1 Now I love giveaways as much as the next gal (I even run them on my own blog whenever I can find willing sponsors), but I challenge the assertion that any of the things they are giving away are essential to breastfeeding.

In fact, I think by calling them essentials, the companies are inadvertently perpetuating some of the Booby Traps they claim to be opposed to. Some of the products they are featuring as prizes include a Medela breastpump, some bottles, a nursing coverup shawl, and a nursing tank.

It does a disservice to women to tout this expensive gear as "essential" to breastfeeding, because it makes breastfeeding seem complicated, abnormal, and expensive.

Booby Trap #1: Breastfeeding is Complicated

Breastfeeding can certainly be complicated for nursing dyads who enounter difficulties getting started, but for the majority of families it should be fairly simple, at least in terms of gear needed. Sure there are a few things that are nice to have around, and even more things available that might be fun or cute. But you don't need them. God has already given you the essential equipment. If you have a baby with a mouth and a mama with a breast, you're good to go. It shouldn't be a big production that requires tons of extra equipment. The thought of needing lots of stuff to help breastfeed makes it seem more overwhelming, which is the last thing a new mom needs.

Booby Trap #2: Breastfeeding is Shameful

A lot of these products, such as the nursing shawl, are designed to "hide" breastfeeding. I would also include the breastpump and bottles in this category, because I feel that calling them essentials for all moms (not just moms who have to work outside the home) sets up an expectation that all nursing moms pump and bottlefeed in public. Claiming the shawl as an essential item also sends a clear message to new moms: you must cover-up. If this is the message from Fit Pregnancy, how can we possibly expect the rest of society to accept breastfeeding, including publicly, as a normal and beautiful part of raising a child?

Finally, saying these products are breastfeeding essentials places breastfeeding in the realm of elite parenting -poor moms need not apply. The products they're giving away are supposedly worth $600, but if they're all really essential, would require you to spend hundreds more dollars buying more bottles, bottle brushes, nursing covers, and expensive nursing clothes. For example, the nursing dress they're giving away is beautiful, but I think nursing clothes like that are a luxury and a convenience; they are not essential to breastfeeding. And pumps, when actually necessary, are often at least partially covered by insurance. As low-income women have significantly lower breastfeeding rates than wealthier women, I think it's especially important for breastfeeding advocates to avoid painting a picture of breastfeeding as requiring so much expensive equipment and accessories.    

Affordable cotton nursing pads
from TheSustainableStitchery.com
I personally like the convenience of nursing bras and was pretty leaky at first, so nursing pads saved me from doing excessive amounts of laundry, but I've heard that thin cotton washcloths work just fine too. And you don't have to spend a ton of money to get either. At Walmart.com, for example, you can get two cotton nursing bras for $12 and 3 pairs of reusable organic cotton nursing pads for $10.75. That means for $22.75 you have everything you really "need" in my opinion. Target also has great deals, with nursing bras starting at $7.34 and reusable breast pads starting at $17.99/3 pairs. For moms on a budget, breastfeeding basics can be found that won't break the bank, and might even cost less than a date with Hubby!

If you can afford it, it's true that there are tons of great nursing products you could spend your money on. And winning all that gear from a giveaway would be fun. But let's not pretend they're essentials-we're only hurting moms and babies when we do.

The giveaway page is a sponsored "advertorial," and it is unclear who ultimately chose the wording "Breastfeeding Essentials." Our goal in publishing this piece is not to attack BestforBabes or Fit Pregnancy magazine, but to start a dialogue about the language we use to market products related to breastfeeding. We are excited to host a reply post from the BestforBabes founder this Wednesday. Please leave your thoughts on what the "breastfeeding essentials" are.

We are pleased to host a guest post today from Maman A Droit. "Maman A Droit" is a 24-year-old Midwest mama who is proudly breastfeeding her 12 month old son. When she's not writing posts for NursingFreedom.org, she shares her thoughts on breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babies, and life on her own blog.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Joys of Nursing in Public #1

Today we are happy to host a guest post by Star. Star spends her days chasing her preschooler, nursing her baby, and working as a breastfeeding peer counselor in Missouri. When she's not doing those things, she can be found blogging at Car StarRod. Here is her nursing in public guest post.

I had no interest in nursing in public.

I decided to breastfeed for the health benefits. The closeness and joy I experienced while breastfeeding my daughter were a surprising bonus. But take her out in public, pull up my shirt, and latch her on? Pfft. Not. Gonna. Happen. No way.

For my first public outing with my daughter, Rhi, I prepared. I packed a diaper bag with a bottle of pumped milk. I nursed her as much as she wanted. When she finished I packed her up into her car seat, and we were off . . . to the store. (I admit that the store isn't a particularly special first public outing, but since I was a new stay at home mom, it seemed as awesome as if we were attending the Oscars. With only slightly less time spent getting ready.)

We got to the store, I got her out of the car, and we went inside. Shortly after that, all of my plans went straight to hell.

While walking through the aisles, my baby signaled her hunger by shoving her hands in her mouth and squawking at me. I did not expect her to be hungry again so soon, but I was ready. I parked my cart, took her into the bathroom, and heated up her bottle under the hot water. This took more time then I imagined it would, and by the time it was warm, my baby was furious that I had not yet met her needs. She was very vocal about it.

Finally I deemed the bottle warm enough, and we sat on the bench outside of the bathroom. Except – what's this? Why won't she take the bottle? Her crying got louder (how was that possible?!).

And people were starting to stare.

And my breasts were leaking.

And I was near tears.

Stretched to my breaking point, I yanked up my shirt, pulled down my bra, and latched my daughter on to my breast. Discretion? I was too stressed and upset to care.

My daughter instantly calmed down, grabbed onto me, and let out a contented little sigh. Even as we both relaxed, I couldn't help but feel self-conscious.

Just then, an elderly woman looked over at us, stopped, and walked over.

Please please please don't say anything to me lady, I silently plead with her. I really didn't want to do this, but I just couldn't help it and I'm trying my best and . . . 

“Pretty baby,” the woman said, breaking into my inner monologue.

“Huh?”  I asked, stupidly.

“You have a very pretty baby there,” she repeated, smiling down at Rhi.

“Th-thank you,” I stuttered.

That old woman was the catalyst for a change in the way I viewed nursing in public. Sure, maybe she had no clue what I was doing, although I find that hard to believe, since I was not trying for discretion. But her kindness to us made me really realize that what I was doing was fine, and natural, and good. No one would have cared if I had bottle fed my kid anywhere or everywhere, and most people are mature enough to understand that using your breasts to feed a baby is not the same thing as using them in a sexual manner.

That incident changed my perspective. It enabled me to nurse my first daughter all over the place, and I'm doing the same with my second (and I do mean everywhere, including in a job interview, in front of clients, at a park full of people, and once while pumping gas). I have, in my nursing experience, had one run in with someone: a woman at the mall who said I should be using the nursing room (that had three women already in line). I never even responded, because four other people – including her own daughter – told her she was out of line. She even (begrudgingly) apologized.

So while there are certainly bad nursing in public experiences, we must remember as nursing mothers that those are the ones that get the coverage. They are, quite simply, more newsworthy. There are a million stories of good experiences, and even more of neutral ones where no action is taken at all, but those aren't controversial enough to place headlines or whip up a storm of controversy. In fact, I daresay most of us will never have to deal with a particularly dreadful response from anyone. Maybe the normalization of breastfeeding isn't quite as far off as we think.


Despite the fact that negative nursing in public experiences get the publicity, more women receive the kindness and thanks from strangers for making breastfeeding a normal sight.
We want to share your positive stories so that other breastfeeding mothers and mothers-to-be will be inspired and encouraged to N.I.P. If you have a positive N.I.P. story, please contact us. We will include them in the series and credit you, your site, or post it anonymously if you so desire.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Matter of Choice

An Afghan woman and child in
Parwan Province, Afghanistan.
Photo by Sgt. Sean A. Terry, USA
I recently had a conversation with my children about women covering themselves, after we saw a woman who wore a head covering. My 5 year old daughter wanted to know why the woman's head was covered, and we discussed the fact that some religions require women to cover their heads or bodies so that others do not see them.

The next question to follow was whether or not the woman had chosen to cover her head or whether someone had made her do it.

This brought about a very insightful discussion about women's rights, and human rights in general. Some women choose to cover themselves based on their beliefs. Others are forced to cover themselves or suffer persecution. The distinction between the two - freedom and oppression - is clear; it's a simple matter of choice.

The choice to cover oneself, including covering when breastfeeding, is a personal choice. Women who choose to cover do so out of personal preference based on their beliefs. To tell tell others that they should cover themselves is an attempt at oppression, whether the cover is meant for the woman's head or her child's.

We are honored to host a guest post today from Mandy. Mandy is an unschooling mom of 4 and advocate of consensual living. You can normally find her at Living Peacefully with Children, where she blogs about parenting, simple living, and human rights.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Breastfeeding Gift Ideas for Expecting Mothers

A reader asks: I am attending a baby shower for a friend. I'd like to get her something that will help make her breastfeeding experience more comfortable. What should I buy? 

Whether you want to spend $0, $20, or $100, here are some ideas to get you started no matter what your gift-giving budget1:

Books About Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding Wear (apparel and carriers)

Breastfeeding State Law Cards
Breastfeeding Props (things that may make you more comfortable while nursing)

Nursing Distractions (to make those early days of 24/7 nursing easier)

Creams, Pads, and Other Helps for Sore Breasts

Gifts of Service and Time
  • Frozen meals
  • Fresh veggies, fruits, and other snacks (cut and ready to eat)
  • Lactation cookies (recipe on Epicurious)
  • Offer to babysit, answer breastfeeding questions, etc.
  • Accompany her to a La Leche League or other breastfeeding readiness meeting (before and/or after baby arrives); you might also consider buying her a LLL membership if she enjoys it.
  • Gift certificate for a housekeeper (or an offer to come clean for her)
  • Phone numbers for local LLL leaders
  • Gift certificate for post-partum doula
  • Gift certificate for a foot massage
  • Gift certificate for a photographer session, or an offer to take photos yourself
  • Gift certificate for a session with a Lactation Consultant

What would you have wanted as a new nursing mother?

What have you given as a breastfeeding-themed gift in the past?

We asked the wonderful mothers on NursingFreedom.org's Facebook Page and Code Name: Mama's Facebook Page, thank you for the responses, mamas! The Amazon links on this page are affiliate links. By clicking on an Amazon link and purchasing a product, you will be helping support the mission and work of NursingFreedom.org. There are also links to our CafePress page - we appreciate your support!

Friday, August 13, 2010

CarNIP Creme de la Creme, Part 1

We haven't yet decided how we're going to permanently feature breastfeeding-related posts that have been previously published on others sites, but I do want to start sharing some of the wonderful pieces that were submitted during the Carnival of Nursing in Public as "Crème de la Crème" posts. I'll be posting a few at a time so you can look at them at your leisure. If you feel so moved, please click over, read the whole post, and leave a comment in support of the writers who participated in the Carnival.

  • BethStedman.com, Nursing in Public: A Little Story: Beth from bethstedman.com relates a story about her first experience traveling with her then 7 month old child. Sadly, she was asked to cover up by an airline attendant, and was later offered a "family restroom" to nurse in by someone in the airport. Beth writes: 

Personally I think it does feel like there is something wrong in our society when a momma feels uncomfortable and ashamed for naturally, freely and openly feeding her baby. I can see how if you had enough experiences like my little story and you didn’t have support from family and friends around you it would be easy to choose not to breastfeed at all or to stop earlier then you had originally planned. I can understand why “according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 70 percent of mothers start breastfeeding immediately after birth, but less than 20 percent of those moms are breastfeeding exclusively six months later.”
The choice to nurse or not to nurse is each mother’s personal decision, but wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a society where women really could freely make that decision. Where if they wanted to nurse they wouldn’t be made to feel uncomfortable for openly feeding their baby whenever they needed to and where ever was most comfortable for them.
Read more about Beth's story.

  • A Beatnik’s Beat on Life, Courage: Erin shares a story about how a friend's confidence in nursing her own child in public helped Erin feel comfortable to do the same. Erin says:

Let me tell you something: the way she did this was probably the coolest thing I have seen in a long time. For me, when I feed Kairi in front of people, I feel like I should warn them first. I know that I shouldn't have to, that people SHOULDN'T be uncomfortable with a nursing child but the sad fact is that people just aren't used to it. But for her, it was a no questions asked, just do it kind of thing, like it was the most normal thing to possibly do. (AS IT SHOULD BE!!!)
Read more about Erin's story.

  • Mama Cum Laude, No Need to Hide: In a misguided attempt to make Lindsey "comfortable" while breastfeeding, a shopkeeper gave her a damp dishtowel to cover her nursling. Thankfully, that experience is a rarity for Lindsey and many other breastfeeding mothers. Lindsey explains:

When I walk out the door in the morning, I don't expect neighbors or passers by to stop and gawk at me-- an occasional friendly smile or a "good morning" is much more likely. This is generally the case when I am out in public with my children. I don't expect to be confronted about nursing. I go about my day. I mother my babies.
Read more from Lindsey.

Stay tuned for more Crème de la Crème posts!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Call for Submissions: The Joys of Nursing in Public

"Wandering about Amalfi, Italy"
Winner of a breastfeeding picture contest
on www.GenitoriChannel.it
Many of our Carnival of Nursing in Public writers shared positive N.I.P. experiences. Despite the fact that the negative experiences get the publicity, more women receive the kindness and thanks from strangers for making breastfeeding a normal sight.

We want to share your positive stories so that other breastfeeding mothers and mothers-to-be will be inspired and encouraged to N.I.P.

Have you ever had a wonderful N.I.P. experience? Did a stranger bring you water? Did a child smile at your nursing child in wonder? Did your father-in-law share the benefits of breastfeeding with a friend in your presence?

If you have a beautiful N.I.P. story to share, please submit it to NursingFreedom.org.

Stories should be roughly 250-500 words, they must adhere to our Contributor Guidelines, and they should relate an easy to read and positive N.I.P. story.

Monday, August 9, 2010


My sister gave birth to her daughter when she was fifteen years old. Her mother had breastfed, and encouraged her to also breastfeed. My fifteen year old sister was the first woman whom I ever saw breastfeed. I was fifteen as well (we became siblings through the marriage of our parents) and I remember thinking that nursing a baby was perfection.

I finally understood that breasts weren’t something only to be tolerated (wearing bras was something I had reluctantly been forced to do by my female body), or something to be ogled at by our male counterparts, they had a higher purpose. I did not find it gross, or rude, or inconvenient. I found it beautiful, and it was my first step to my accepting and loving the full capacity of my body as a woman.

When I gave birth to my first daughter it was by cesarean section, and it was not a welcomed procedure for me. I had planned a natural childbirth but was told my baby was too big to deliver vaginally. At the time, I didn’t know the ACOG guidelines for induction or cesarean for suspected macrosomia, and I thought my only safe choice was to accept surgery. My daughter and I experienced no labor, and she was born at 38 weeks exactly.

We both suffered side effects of surgery and when my milk came in on the third day, I found my breasts engorged, my nipples cracked, and no one able to help me find solutions to my difficulties. I was in pain. Breastfeeding was not going perfectly for me. I did not give in, though. I refused to give up. I asked to see a lactation consultant. I was not provided one. She was at another hospital.

My baby was too sleepy from anesthesia to nurse properly, and was having difficulty passing her meconium. When the breast pump I asked for was not brought to my room, I went and demanded it from the only nurse I could find at the nurses’ station. I figured out how to use it with the help of my husband, and I was able to extract a minuscule amount of milk. I did not take the Percocet I was prescribed for my pain because I knew my milk to be the perfect food for my baby, and I saw how she was affected by the medicines of my surgery. I wanted it to be untainted when she was able to nurse.

I kept at it. We went home after a five day stay in the hospital. My baby woke up. I nursed her every time she’d made a grunt. I nursed her in front of my brother, my father-in-law, and my nephew. I nursed her in front of my own dad. None of them blinked an eye. None of them were used to seeing a woman nurse.

When it came time for us to venture out into the public, I didn’t think twice about nursing her wherever we needed to. I didn’t try to cover up with blankets or shawls. I knew I was being discreet with just my nursing tops and t-shirts. I was just happy that I was able to breastfeed her. I was overjoyed, and no one could squash that joy in me. 

My first born nursed through my second pregnancy and weaned on her own at two and a half. My second daughter was a newborn. At the beginning of June of this year, my younger daughter weaned, and ended almost five years of breastfeeding my children. Never once have I been met with disapproval for my nursing in public. I know I have been fortunate. I have seen nothing but good come from my experience with breastfeeding.

My daughters aren’t sickly. They have never had an ear infection. They are not overweight. They rarely need antibiotics. It saved us a tremendous amount of time and money. But, most of all, at a time when I could have went to a mistrust of my female body, breastfeeding kept me connected and amazed by what I was capable of all on my own. It kept me feeling positive about what I was able to offer my daughters.

There are situations out of our control, and I know that I am so privileged to have even been able to breastfeed at all, but all mothers have something to offer their babies no matter the situation. It might be your warm arms, it might be the breast, it might be your wish for a safe birth, it might be lullabies at night, or sharing spirituality with them, and it is your womanhood that has given you that opportunity.

If we are unashamed of our female body, we can approach the discomfort of others without fear. Hopefully, a time will come when our right to nurse in public will not be an issue. Women will support women. Men will support the women in their lives. Until then, we will nurse as often as our babies need. We will do so in a way that makes us most comfortable, and we will do so with the confidence that what we are doing is right for our children.

We are honored to host a guest post today from Kelli. Kelli is a mother of two little girls, a homesteader, homeschooler, writer, childbirth educator, and doula in Appalachia.  She blogs at A Mountain Mama and Birth True Blog.

NursingFreedom.org is seeking guest posts. If you have a story to share about lobbying for better breastfeeding legislation, nursing in public, starting a local breastfeeding initiative, or otherwise advocating for breastfeeding rights, please read through our Contributor Guidelines and contact us.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Joys of Breastfeeding Past Infancy #17

The Joys of Breastfeeding Past Infancy series (formerly "the joys of breastfeeding toddlers") is normally hosted Fridays at Code Name: Mama. We are happy to feature it today on NursingFreedom.org as part of our celebration of World Breastfeeding Week. Today's post was written by Dionna of Code Name: Mama; the video was edited by CodeNamePapa. Here is her breastfeeding guest post:

When the subject of nursing past infancy comes up, a common question we mothers who nurse past one year hear is “But why? What’s the point? What good does it really do?

If you asked my son, he would tell you quite simply that mama’s milk is love. (keep reading below the video for more)

Mama’s milk has been a large part of my son’s 32 months on this Earth. He has grown from a round-the-clock nursing infant to a frequently nursing toddler, and he’s on his way to being a pretty-darn-often breastfeeding preschooler. The fact that the calendar ticked over to reflect my son’s first or second birthdays; the fact that he grew teeth; the fact that he can “ask for it”; none of these things matter to my child who is still so dependent on me.

To my son, breastfeeding is just part of life. The comfort of my breast has evolved from the immediate pacification it offered when he was a small newborn, to the secure home base that he needed when he discovered his independence. Mama’s milk is our ever present connection. It is a source of love, laughter, and learning.

Breastfeeding: It's Elementary

Yes, it is a source of learning! Breastfeeding has been the foundation of many educational pursuits. From my personal journal, here are a few examples (by subject) of how breastfeeding has nourished my son’s brain as well as our relationship:
  • Anatomy (19 months): “One, two, two mama milk! TWO! Two mama milk!!”
  • Sociology (20 months): While we were eating at a restaurant one night, a nearby toddler fell out of her chair and landed on the floor. She wailed for at least five minutes, and Kieran became very concerned. As the little girl continued to wail, Kieran’s concern brimmed over. He said urgently, “mama milk! Mama milk!” I asked if he wanted mama’s milk and he pointed at the girl, lifted my shirt, and said, “baby mama milk, baby mama milk!” He wanted to give the hurt toddler some of his own mama’s milk to help her feel better. 
  • Physical Education (22 months): Dancing across the living room floor, I held and spun Kieran to a random rock & roll tune. Laughing, he implored, “mama milk dance!”
  • Geography (26 months): Kieran woke up from his nap, grinned at me, and said “party at mama milk!”
  • Psychology (28 months): on our noon drive home from a co-op class, Kieran was incredibly tired and crying inconsolably. I said “I know you’re sleepy honey, we’ll be home soon.” Kieran replied through his tears, “I not sleepy, I just need some mama milk!”
  • Law/Negotiation (29 months): Kieran has learned the fine art of negotiation. Whenever it is time to leave somewhere, I start giving him warnings: “two minutes until we have to go!” He usually comes back with “no mama, four minutes!” And then we compromise on three. Breastfeeding is no exception: when Kieran nurses and I am ready to get up and do something else, I’ll give him the standard “two minutes!” warning. To which he inevitably replies, “four! Four minutes of mama milk!” 
  • Physics (31 months): Kieran put our water bottle lid on my breast & sucked, then asked "why there no mama's milk coming out?!" 
Nursing Kieran at 27 months
Aside from the educational life lessons our children can learn at our breasts, nursing past infancy is simply beautiful. It is natural, it is nurturing, it is normal.

Less than 20% of mothers breastfeed past their child’s first year of life. That means less than one in five mothers will ever hear her child’s sweet voice coo “I love mama’s milk.” Less than one in five mothers will see her child run toward her with arms outstretched and a breathtaking smile of anticipation, intent on a snuggle at mama’s comforting breast.

I know that my son would love me without my breastmilk. I know that he would think that I was a soft place to land, a welcoming place to snuggle, a safe place to turn. But I also know, without a doubt, that mama’s milk has enriched that soft, comforting, sweet bond between us immeasurably.

Breastfeeding is the first building block of life. It is so simple. It is truly elementary.


Breastfeeding past infancy is full of laughter, joys, and heartbreaking tenderness. I am publishing a series of posts dedicated to the beauty of nursing past infancy in an effort to normalize this healthy and beneficial nursing relationship. But this isn’t just about me – I want to hear YOUR joys. If you are nursing a toddler, preschooler, or beyond (or have in the past), please contact me and tell me about your favorite moments. I will include them in the series and credit you, your site, or post it anonymously if you so desire.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Don't Muddy Your Milk: Shame, Valour, and Breastfeeding

I was driving to my parent's summer cabin with my newborn baby boy (breastfed) and my preschooler (also still breastfeeding) when I had this conversation:

"You know how you like to have boobies, Sweetheart?
"Well, Mommy is happy to give you booby milk but here's an idea I have. Let's make up a special word for it that nobody but us knows. A special, secret word, like . . . "yum yum!" So if you want booby milk, you ask Mommy for "yum yum." And if Mommy says, "Yes, yum yum!" then we'll go someplace quiet together where it will be just you and Mommy. And if Mommy says, "No, not now," you'll just have to wait a little bit. But you'll be able to have yum yum later. Good idea?"
"Good. But let's not have yum yums in front of Grandpa and Grandma, okay? Let's just make it a super special secret thing that just you and me know about."
"And Daddy."
"Yes, and Daddy knows about it."
"Yum yums in the car!"
"No. Not in the car. Yum yums later."
"Okay, Mommy."

How very reasonable. What a civilized agreement. What a super-clever Mommy, I, to think up such reasonable, civilized things and to communicate them so rationally to my very rational two year old daughter.

When we arrived at Grandma and Grandpa's my newborn was hungry. I nursed him right away in the nearest armchair, the cozy one in front of the big picture window with the view of slender, silver-barked aspens trembling in the wind off the lake. Grandma remarked how much our baby had grown in the past weeks and on his sweetness. Then another conversation with my daughter began while the baby drank and my parents looked on in horror:

"Yum yums now."
"No, Sweetie. Yum yums soon. But not now. Yum yums later."
"Yum yums, NOW, Mommy."
"No, Sweetie. Not now. Later."
"Mommy! [Eyes narrowed, hands on hips, feet planted squarely on the ground.] You give me boobies RIGHT NOW. Or ELSE, Mommy!"
"I said no. Later."
"Mommy, you put that baby down and give me boobies NOW."
Then her little foot stamped three times on the carpet and she started to kick-drag it behind her like an enraged buffalo threatening to charge. Summoning the super-shrieky-shrill power particular to two-year old girls, she blared:


I shook my head no.

"I will not," I said sadly.

Then there wasn't much I could do as she hollered and flailed and screamed and shouted and bounced, quite literally, off the walls in rage and frustration.

It was an intense moment in breastfeeding.

I was mortified. And I was heartbroken. What was I thinking asking a two-year old to keep a secret? How did I dream that she wouldn't see right through me and know that I was ashamed to be nursing her (at two and a half) but I wasn't ashamed to be nursing our new baby.

It's hard bringing a baby into a home with siblings. It's painful to know you are wreaking havoc in the life you devote so much energy into making pleasant, familiar, healthy, and safe for your firstborn. It's heart-wrenching to see your beloved daughter in such pain because you selfishly decided that she wasn't enough, even though she's already filled up you heart a thousand times over with more love than you could ever have believed possible.

Betsy 2
Now that girl and her brother play like puppies and they love each other madly. In retrospect it's so easy to comprehend what a gift a sibling is. But, in that post-natal haze of tender hormones and raw newiness, one wonders, "Have I ruined everything?"

Here's the thing:

I was ashamed. I didn't know a single other person who had tandem nursed or nursed through a pregnancy. And while it all came very natural and easy physically -- I simply faced none of the common roadblocks that many women do -- I felt kind of like a freak.

Kids have a preternatural ability to sense these sorts of things.

That was almost two years ago and my daughter is weaned now. But I still remember that awful tantrum and my sense that I'd betrayed her. Not because I didn't comply with her tyrannical demands -- I shudder to think of what kind of example I'd set if I responded to, "YOU LIFT UP YOUR SHIRT RIGHT NOW OR ELSE!". But I do feel I betrayed her by sullying our nursing relationship. I did that when by giving a damn what a third party (Grandma and Grandpa) thought. I complicated our nursing relationship by including people in it who didn't belong.

A nursing relationship should be between a mother and her child. Period.

I have been nursing for four-and-a-half years now. I have three children. My four year old is weaned and the youngest (my baby is eight months-old and our boy just turned two) are happily nursing. Tandem nursing has worked out great for us. It really did ease those tough transitions of bringing more babies into our family by telling my older babies, in the most literal possible way, there is enough for both of you.

My best advice, as an old nursing pro who has run the gamut, is make your nursing relationship about you and your child. Nobody else's feelings, opinions, hang-ups, etc. are really that relevant.

I know, it’s not so simple. We are products of our culture, we are cultured people, and we cannot and should not live in isolation from our culture. And if someone you really care about and respect – your husband or your mother, say, are pressuring you to feel ashamed of your nursing relationship, that puts you in an awful spot. But that's my best advice -- what it all boils down to: make your nursing relationship between you and your baby.

It turns out Grandma and Grandpa didn't point a finger at me and call me a freak for tandem nursing. Nobody has. Not to my face, anyway. In fact, in my almost five years of nursing I haven't really gotten any flak. I've nursed lots of places (restaurants, airplanes, parks, parties, grocery stores, Unesco World Heritage Sites, wherever) and I think I've received more, "Oh, wow, have you been nursing this whole time? I didn't even notice!" comments than anything else. It's not that I have any special techniques for nursing discreetly -- I just do what I've got to do.

If I need to nurse right here, right now, I'll do it. If I need to go someplace quiet, I'll find someplace quiet. I do what feels right for me and the baby. Or the toddler. Or the preschooler.

I wasn't always so bold. I started out as doubtful, sore, weepy, and self-conscious as any new breastfeeding mom. I had to learn not to be ashamed of breastfeeding. And then, as my nursling became a toddler and then a big sister, there it was -- the shame had crept back.

If I could go back in time and tell that Mommy driving to her parent's cabin with her newborn and her nursing toddler what I know now it would be this:

1) Don't ask a child to keep a secret. It's stresses them out. Bad, bad idea.

2) Don't be ashamed. Shame is not helpful. It is not necessary. Breastfeeding is a wholesome thing. Shame just muddies the milk. Don't muddy your baby's or your toddler's or your preschooler's milk with shame.

3) When she is ready to wean, it will be easy. Don't worry. She will wean one day and you will know the time is right.

4) You are your biggest breastfeeding critic. No one else really cares that much. So stop criticizing yourself. You are awesome. You are doing a great job.

5) When it comes to breastfeeding, discretion is not the better part of valour. Valour is the better part of valour. Breastfeed, always, with valour.


We are honored to post this guest post today by Betsy. Betsy lives way up in the snow where she does it polar bear style. For way too much info, visit her blog, Honest2Betsy.

Monday, August 2, 2010

How Can We Increase Breastfeeding Until Age Two?

Lauren from
nurses her toddler.
I was interested to read the following excerpt from the American Academy of Family Physicians’ 2008 Position Paper[1. Thank you, peaceful parenting]:

"Note that breastfeeding at least until the second year of a child's life is not considered 'extended' breastfeeding. Rather, breastfeeding until the bare minimum age of 2 years is the norm and anything less brings about detrimental consequences. Human milk for growing human babies is expected (physiologically) by the baby's body in order to receive all that is needed (and only found in human milk) for this important period of rapid brain, body, and immune system development."

Where only 22% of babies in the United States are still nursing at one year, how can we encourage women to keep nursing for an additional year?

I'm interested in your thoughts:

If your child(ren) weaned before the age of two, why? What factors played into your decision? (Family/friend pressure? Advice from your doctor? Lack of information in favor of nursing past infancy?)

What would have encouraged you to keep nursing to two years? Be as specific as possible - if you think information would have helped, from who? Your doctor? Online? Friends? If societal pressure was your main reason for weaning, what would have helped you feel better - breastfeeding friends? An online forum?