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...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Oh Way Back When

when i was in the second grade we learned about greek mythology. to this day it was one of my favorite parts of school. there's something about the gods and goddesses and stories from that time that capture imaginations. and, even freaking better, as part of the unit we got to watch clash of the titans at school.  a movie?! in school?! ZOMGF DEAD. pure awesome.

but there was a catch. our parents had to sign a release form that we could watch it because the movie "contained nudity." specifically, at the very beginning of the movie baby perseus is nursed by his mom.

my parents were kind enough to sign my form and i went on to watch what remains to this day to be one of my all-time favorite movies. but the first part of the movie was punctuated with lots of second grader giggles because . . . it's boobies!


we have discovered what's wrong with america.

i am a genius.  i love you, clash of the titans.

instead of someone just speaking up and explaining to the very giggly second graders that the woman was just feeding her baby and it was nothing to feel funny about, it became this entire production. the talking with the parents. the signing of the forms. the whispers between the kids about what scandalous things we would get to see. i understand that the school was probably just trying to cover it's ass but THIS! THIS is how this problem with nursing in public happened!

loosen it up, uptight puritan americans!

at some point our breasts became so sexualized that they can't even serve their orginal purpose. don't get me wrong, i think boobs are great/nice/hot. but they can do all that AND be functional. that's why they're there, isn't it?

think about this with me for a second- the top of a bottle- it's called a nipple right? i wonder why? (ok, i don't, but we don't think about that enough, do we?) rubber nipples, invented in 1845, were created to mimic the flow of the breast. for every single year of humanity before that? breastfeeding.  in public. in the relative timetable of human existence bottles as we know them have only been around for a fraction history. so how did we go from breast being the norm to the complete opposite and how the hell do we try to get some balance up in here? because bottles are undoubtedly and awesome invention. we just need to find some kind of middle ground.

here's a little challenge that i read about- the next time you go to buy a gift for a baby shower look around and make a conscious effort to notice . . . bottles. because you'll be shocked. they're on patterned fabrics, in baby books, on toys, on cards and bags and wrapping paper. the iconic image of the bottle has become synonymous with "baby" and over time . . . we know nothing else. there aren't boobs on everything for babies, there are bottles. subconsciously this sends a message of what's right, of what's normal.

the outcry against breastfeeding in public is just a symptom of the problem. people don't know anything about breastfeeding anymore. they don't see it, they don't learn it, they don't know it. i can raise my hand and say yes, i was one of them. completely ignorant about it until i did it. it's about time for some greater education. back to the second grade basics:  mammals nurse their young.

We are proud to host today's guest post from the grumbles. the grumbles writes about her son jude and her new parenting journey over at grumbles and grunts. she's also really weird and afraid of strangers. shhhhh! be very very quiet– you'll scare it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

CarNIP Creme de la Creme, Part 4

We are happy to share 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.

  • Life's a Salad Bar, Pump and Go: Ever heard that a breastfeeding mother should pump her milk to feed her baby in public? Anna at Life's a Salad Bar will arm you with all the information needed to explain why it is easier said than done.

Don’t feel pressured into doing something that you don’t want to, and if you decide you still would rather pump that’s fine too. Just go into in knowing the facts and be comfortable with your choice, because that person who may have an issue with you nursing your baby isn’t the one who has to live with that choice, you are.
Read more from Life's a Salad Bar.

  • Authentic Parenting, Breastfeeding Courtesy: Mamapoekie writes a letter to the public to give tips on what does (and does not) constitute courtesy to breastfeeding mothers.

Every nursing mother does exactly what she feels comfortable with so there is no need to meddle whatsoever. Most certainly she has considered the spot where she is sitting or the amount of 'exposure' she is portraying and is comfortable with it. She is not a sad little creature in need of chivalry or rescuing.
Read more from Authentic Parenting.

  • Her Bad Mother, I’ve Looked at Boobs from Both Sides Now: During the backlash of Kim Kardishians tweets bashing nursing in public, Catherine from Her Bad Mother reminds us that while we should stand up for breastfeeding, it's important to not bash another womans right to expose her breasts, albeit differently. Boobs are gloriously multifunctional! 

I’ll be the first to say that I think that nursing babies is more important, more necessary, more deserving of public support than is exposing one’s breastal units to sunlight and the public gaze, but I don’t know that I want my right to nurse in public to come at the cost of Kim Kardashian’s, or any woman’s, right to feel comfortable dressing however she likes and to not face censure for doing whatever it is that she does that causes us to shout YO HYPOCRITE when she expresses discomfort with the exposed nursing boob.
Read more from Her Bad Mother.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I Owe an Apology to My Boobs








(and the list goes on...) 

One of my all-time favorite pics (June, 08)
Ahhh, boobs. That's what I like to call them. All us ladies have them and love them and all the straight men out there seem to covet them (and I know a few gay men who love them, too). They're luscious, soft, smell good, feel good, and have a mind of their own. We stuff them, lift them, plump them, and care for them like a prize show dog with unruly fur.

And then, even beyond all that, they surprise us with their real reason d'être: to feed our babies.

Billions of babies have latched on to our knockers and flourished, they have tugged on our tatas with a glint in their eye, and buried their faces like a long lost lover into the softness of our kajongas to drink greedilly. It is the way it has always been . . . .

Yet, somehow, we've forgotten that they are dual purpose. They are both fun bags and feed bags, but ultimately, they're for nourishing first, fun second. I don't care how well-constructed your argument is. If you were born 100 years ago, you wouldn't have a leg to stand on: breasts are for nourishing infants first, fun, second.

We confuse nursing with indecency and inappropriateness. We have it tangled up with lack of independence and crushing responsibility (and not unnecessarily so, I might add). We hide in places like bathroom stalls and filthy "nursing rooms" to protect others from exposure. We count the days until weaning when we will have our bodies back to ourselves.

And after we've done our best to make everyone else comfortable with our milk-full breasts (and our partners satisfied with their participation in nourishment), and our bosoms are once again our own to do with as we please, we deride the silver streams of marks branding our tissue-thin skin. We blame the milk for the change in shape and feel when really it was inevitable. We wish we had our old knockers back with all their perk and independence. That they jiggled and jumped with attitude and verve as they did when we were 19.

We abandon the tits that have worked so hard for us both in leisure and toil, and we should say we're sorry.

Sorry for being such a jerk to my miraculous boobs. Sorry for not understanding my body and its natural evolution.  Sorry for looking to Hollywood as a standard for a mother's body. Sorry for expecting the impossible.

Therefore, I hereby promise to never say a bad thing about my wonderful boobs ever again. Ever.

I will be proud of the delicate, shiny skin that glint in the mirror lights, and I will be proud of the new way they sit on my frame.

I have been so damn proud to be an on-demand nurser who spent inordinate amounts of time pulled over on the side of the road, sitting in rocking chair displays, in restaurant booths, at dinner tables, friends' houses, parties, BBQ's and airplanes in all sorts of company consisting of women, men, fathers, bachelors, singles, in-laws and everything else in between. So why not be proud of the very vehicles that allowed me to do so and the way the are today?

I'm also proud to say that I refused to be pushed into any setting that was unclean or unnatural to me, instead believing that I and my baby were the ones with the right. I was the one who was the one participating in a biological act of survival with love and respect. Not that creepy looking dude or judgmental woman, who were willing me with their glares to go somewhere else to feed my son.

I now smile at any mother who is nursing in public and gives me an apologetic look. I want to give her a thumbs up, let her know that I'M ON HER SIDE. I am her sister in this. She does not need to look sorry. I will protect her right to feed her baby any time she needs to, this much I promise.

So, let me end this with a formal apology to my girls.

I'm sorry for not loving you in your new shape and for treating you so badly, for relegating you to bras at any given moment and for trying to hide you from public view. You are wonderful, you are glorious, you are the best boobies in the whole wide world. And THANK YOU. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for filling my babe's belly time and time again and for giving me something to flaunt and be proud of. You really do rock. 

My boob-friends today.  Holla! 

We are proud to host a guest post today from Jessica. Jessica is a SAHM to an almost 3 year old son, though things will be changing soon as she prepares to head back into the work force.  She is passionate about breastfeeding, thoughtful, gentle parenting, and cussing up a storm.  She blogs about everything at This is Worthwhile.

Do you have a story to share about nursing in public and/or the normalization of breastfeeding? We'd love to host it!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tandem Mama

And there I was. I knew what had to be done. I was sitting cross legged on the floor of the penguin exhibit at the Melbourne aquarium. I had a fussy, hungry 6 month old and a 2 year old who had been having a major meltdown who wanted the cure-all. I was going to have to tandem feed. IN PUBLIC. We were already being stared at for aforementioned meltdown and now I was going to whip my breasts out and put a child on each one. And one of said children was ~gasp~ a toddler.  So there I was amongst the penguins and tourists feeling quite a few stares as people did a double take because, sadly, it is confronting to see tandem feeding in public.

Because we don't see it often enough.
Because there is still a lot of misinformation about the benefits of feeding into toddlerhood.
Because  women are not supported as mothers.
Because feeding during pregnancy can be really hard.
Because there is too much bad advice around.
Because a lot of Mamas feel the need to breastfeed toddlers in private.

I remember the first time I saw a tandem feeding Mama. My eldest child was about 6 months old and I had just joined an attachment parenting playgroup. I knew I agreed with feeding as long as Mother and baby wanted, even if that meant through a pregnancy and beyond, but I'd never seen it in action. It was confronting. Not only seeing a child older than 2 breastfeeding (I'd never seen that before either) but to see his younger sister feeding on the other side. Later at home I felt sad that seeing toddlers feed  in public, as well as tandem feeding, is such a rarity and made such a big deal out of.

When I was pregnant with my second child I was surprised that my eldest daughter weaned all of a sudden about three weeks before her sister was born. What surprised me more was how sad I felt. At just over two years old she still seemed so young! I was grateful however in the months to follow when I only had one child at the breast. When I fell pregnant by surprise just before my second born's first birthday I was determined to keep the feeding relationship going through my pregnancy and beyond to make it to her second birthday, which would be four months after the next baby was going to arrive.

I won't lie. It was not all rainbows and unicorns. I had supply issues which made my little nursling rather unhappy and nipple pain that I was not impressed about but I made it! The look on my child's face when my milk came back in after the birth of her sister was priceless: “boo back in there!” I was a Tandem Mama. But I never fed them at the same time in public. Always one at a time.  I felt embarrassed and all too aware that what I was doing was not what western society considers “normal.” That was until the day at the aquarium I mentioned.

Sure, people were staring. One rude woman actually pointed at us. You know what I did? I shut my eyes and pretended I was at home on the big recliner. Then I started thinking that more women need to feel free to feed wherever and whenever they want. There I sat, on the floor, a child at each breast and my eldest at my side and I started smiling at everyone who checked us out. And I counted my blessings that my 2 year old had stopped screaming.

We are proud to host today's guest post from Shae. Shae is a stay-at-home homebirthing, home-cooking, unschooling Mama to 3 amazing girls. She blogs over at Yay for Home!

Do you have a story to share about nursing in public and/or the normalization of breastfeeding? We'd love to host it!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Eating My Words: Confessions of a Mom Who Nurses in Public (and Swore She Never Would)

If I want to guarantee that I will do something, all I have to do announce that I will NEVER do it. Excuse me for just a moment while I practice.
I will NEVER effortlessly be a size 2.
OK. I’m back now. Let me transport you to a time and place before I assumed the title “Mommy Chick.” I lived in a land of sushi, cocktails and weekly pedicures. I happily floated through life delivering the midday weather forecast at a local television station.
While I was busy living my own personal “Will and Grace” saga with my gay best friend, my circle of female friends began having babies. I wasn’t surprised when most of them chose to formula feed. A few of them tried breastfeeding, but then decided it wasn’t for them.
After all, formula feeding is the norm, I thought.
I remember telling one friend I wasn’t going to ruin my shiny new implants feeding some baby.
And god forbid that I would ever feed said baby in public.
“A boob is still a boob, even with a baby attached,” I said. (I actually can’t take credit for that line. Suzanne Sugarbaker said it on “Designing Women.”)
Here’s the clincher:
I would never whip my boob out in public. Don’t babies eat on schedules? Can’t people just work around their baby’s schedule or pump milk?
Fast forward to December ’08 when I learn that Monkey Mae was busily baking in my tummy. My husband is a chiropractor. Translation:  my husband is really big on natural healthcare. And he will happily tell you that breastfeeding is the number one most important thing you can do for your baby’s long-term health.
“But it kind of grosses me out,” I told him.
So he preyed upon my former-reporter instincts.
“Research it and let me know if you’re willing to give it a try.”
I agreed it seemed magically delicious for the baby, but I still was afraid of the process. In fact, I was totally freaked out around week 30 of pregnancy when I noticed some dried colostrum on my nipples. It actually made me vomit. Full disclosure:  I hurled almost daily anyway, but this helped set off that day's puke fest.
Monkey Mae debuted in the early morning hours of September 20th, 2009. Thanks to my fluid getting infected during labor, she came out with some breathing problems and did a stint in the NICU.
That is when I was no longer on the fence about breastfeeding. A lactation consultant came by to teach me how pump.
“Your body knows what infection Monkey Mae has and is making antibodies to fight it.”
Our breastfeeding journey was not initially a smooth one. While she was in the hospital, I was too stressed to eat. Therefore, my body did have enough energy to make milk. Monkey Mae received donor milk. When she came home, I had to supplement with formula after every single feeding for seven weeks.
And she definitely made up for the missed snuggle time while she was in the NICU. My little MM nursed every hour for the first four months of her life.
That’s not a typo.  EVERY HOUR.
That schedule led me to eat my words and confront my fear of nursing in public.
I googled how to do it (yep, crazy researcher, that’s me). I asked my wonderful doula how she did it. I sought advice from ladies at a breastfeeding support group.
In other words, I obsessed.
What if someone stares at me? What if I get kicked out of a business?
“I just don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable,” I told my husband.
Looking at those words now, I realize how silly that is.  Because in reality, not nursing MM when she was hungry would only make her uncomfortable. Who cares about the fanny-pack wearing tourists we encounter daily?
When MM was eight weeks old, we went to see a choral performance at the museum. She was happily riding in her sling when I noticed that familiar rooting and some fussing.
“I’m doing it,” I said to my husband.
I went into the bathroom, positioned her in her sling to face my right breast, and latched her.  I was wearing my super stealth double layers (one layer goes up, one comes down, keeping tummy and side boobie covered).
I was sweating from anxiety as I walked back out into the crowd. Even with my discretion, it was still fairly apparent that MM was nursing.  A security guard walked up to me.
“If you’d be more comfortable in the bathroom, there’s one back to the left,” she said.
This moment is when I was most proud of my accomplishment that day:
No thank you. I am comfortable here.
As I stood by the huge Christmas tree, listening to the beautiful sounds of holiday songs, MM happily nursing in her sling, my husband looked at me and said, “I’m proud of you.”
Now, nursing in public seems like old hat. I almost don’t even know the girl who was grossed out by breastfeeding and who was, quite frankly, judgmental of those who chose to feed their children in public.
But I think I’m the perfect example of lack of exposure to breastfeeding in general. I was ignorant on the topic and made ignorant statements.
I continue to nurse MM in parks, restaurants, malls, planes, boats . . . you name it. My hope is that some woman, maybe someone like my former self, will see us and think, “If she can do that, maybe I can, too.”
But that would never happen, right?

We are proud to host a guest post today from Julie Yeomans. Julie is a former television news personality turned full-time "Mommy Chick" and assistant to ten month old Isla "Monkey" Mae.  Julie is passionate about attachment parenting, peaceful birth, natural health care, caffeine and lip gloss, all of which she and Monkey Mae discuss at Monkey Mae Says
If you have a breastfeeding story to share, please consider sharing it on NursingFreedom.org. Read our contributor guidelines for details.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

CarNIP Creme de la Creme, Part 3

We are happy to share 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.
  • Hobo Mama, Nursing in Public: The only times Lauren from Hobo Mama ever felt shame when nursing her (then) new baby was when she tried to cover up. Her advice to modest moms is to wear a nursing/maternity tank top if it makes you feel better, and NIP proudly.
The only times I've felt shame and embarrassment when breastfeeding are when I've tried to cover it up. When I just do it like it's the most natural thing in the world, I'm not embarrassed, and I think I keep most other people from feeling embarrassed as well. I mean, I can't control their own emotions and issues, but I hope I at least project the idea that they don't need to be embarrassed for my sake.
Read more from Hobo Mama.
  • PhD in Parenting, What Gives You the Right?: Why should breastfeeding mothers have to cater to the modesty requirements of the general public? Why should we have to take others' feelings into considerations over our own child's needs? Annie at PhD in Parenting's answer is: we don't.

You don’t want your child to see me feeding my child. Why is that my problem? Why should I stay home while you go to the restaurant? Why should your kids eat at the table, while my kid eats in the bathroom? Why should my child have to have a blanket over her head instead of you putting a blanket over your child’s head?
Read more from PhD in Parenting.

I think we live in a culture that allows us to express ourselves about subjects which are none of our business. And that gives many the feeling that their thoughts should be shared simply because they have permission to express them. That isn’t the case. . . .
It’s not just about what you think. It’s about the impact of your comment. Does it help? Does it bring comfort and support? Does it bring peace? Does it promote love? Are you bringing forward a part of you- authentically sharing with another with no expectation, just to be helpful?
Or are you being critical? Skeptical? Are you expecting others to conform to your standards? Is the comment divisive? Does it purposely breed controversy? Is it ignorant or hurtful?
It matters.
Read more from Intentional Birth.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Breastfeeding and Motherhood Tattoos II

Thank you to all of the mamas who have shared their beautiful ink with us! We got so many more pictures after we published our first post of breastfeeding and motherhood tattoos, we decided to do a second post.
If you would like to share your breastfeeding or motherhood tattoos, please email a picture of them to NursingFreedom (at) gmail (dot) com, along with a brief description/meaning of the tattoo. Let us know if you'd like us to use your name!
Enjoy the beautiful ink below sent in by our readers.

Taryn from SpiritedDoula.com had this piece done as a tribute to motherhood. It is based on Gustav Klimt's painting Mother and Child. The inspiration for this tattoo was her son Jude, who is 29 months old and still nursing.

Devan at Accustomed Chaos has two motherhood tattoos. The hibiscus flowers across her back each represent a child of mine (including Triton, who she lost at 13 wks gestation). The cherry blossoms are a recurrent theme in her tattoos; she has nine, each with falling petals. Each blossom represents a miscarriage (she has had ten) and there is a flourish tying them all together.
 Devan's second tattoo includes two cherry blossoms with falling petals and the phrase "Come What May." The phrase is her motto, and reminds her that she will always be ok, no matter what.

Allie from TheBabyBirthingMama.com got this tattoo for her 20th birthday to depict her and her children. Babywearing is super important to us, which is why the little one is in a sling. To Allie, the tattoo represents the beauty of motherhood.

Angela got this tattoo to represent her daughter and her two beagles. She designed it so that she could add on as her family changes. For example, she has a second child now but lost one of her beagles, so she will add another footprint for the baby and a halo to one of the paw prints.

Kelly's tatto is inspired by artist Laura Vida's design. Kelly got it done when her daughter turned one year old, and she now proudly (at almost five!) tells people to look closely to see "the baby!  And BOOB!"  Kelly loves the way this image represents a mother as both a nurturing figure and a sexy woman. It depicts her own feelings of melding the woman she was and the woman she was becoming.  
Melissa has two tattoos that represent motherhood. The ankh is a symbol of rebirth: it represents the two times she miscarried her daughter prior to having her. The base is cracked showing the heartache of an abusive marriage and miscarriages. It smooths as "time" goes on, completing the ankh and growing wings for the freedom from her old life with her precious daughter and a much better partner. The pregnant goddess is a symbol of faith and represents the "every woman," the power of birth/pregnancy, and change.

Nakai's tattoo, which is on her chest, not only represents motherhood and her own birth story, but also symbolizes that birth is close to her heart - she is studying to be a midwife.

Corrine's "mother love heart" tattoo bears the signatures of her sons: Logan at 6 years old and Connor at 4.5 years old.

This mama chose a willow tree, because she and her daughter both love them. The base of the tree has she and her husband's initials; their children's initials are amongst the branches of the tree.

Lysandra's tattoo was designed by Chad Whitson of Toledo, OH. Lysandra has nursed four children (the longest til he was almost three years old). She is also a LLL leader in NC. Her tattoo took four sittings, three to four hours each over an eight month period.

Julia got this tattoo to represent her five children. It is an anklet with their initials and birthstones, and it has a breastfeeding symbol as a charm. She has nursed all of her children for three years each, her youngest two are still nursing. Julia has breastfed continuously for over eight years and has either tandem nursed, nursed while pregnant, or both for over seven years.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Joys of Nursing in Public #2

Today we are happy to host a guest post by Dawn. Here is her nursing in public guest post.
NursingFreedom.org co-founder Dionna nurses her own
almost-three-year-old, Kieran (it's not in Dawn's Whole
Foods, but it's in a comfy chair all the same!)
One of my favorite places to stop and nurse when out shopping is, believe it or not, a public rest room.

My local Whole Foods Market has a bright, spacious rest room, complete with a big, cushioned chair that's very comfortable for nursing. I've seen similar rest rooms--and chairs--at other Whole Foods Markets (and no, I don't work for them! I just believe in pointing out a great nursing-friendly venue when I see one).

When my first child was an infant I would often be found in the Whole Foods rest room's comfy chair, singing show tunes (they were my baby's lullabies, and dang, those tiled walls give a great reverb!). I never had anyone give me any negative reaction to my nursing (or my singing, for that matter). Either I would get friendly smiles or averted eyes.

One time a woman asked me, with a warm chuckle, if I would come and sing to her while she had her lunch too.

That rest room's comfy chair turned into a jungle gym for my daughter after she weaned, and back into a nursing chair when her younger brother came along. He's still nursing strong at the ripe old age of two and ten months, and we are still frequently seen nursing, and sometimes singing too, in that chair.

This week when I stopped to nurse my son in the Whole Foods rest room armchair, an employee came in to sweep up. She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw my son at the breast. "How old is he?" she asked.

Oh, no, I thought. I've been nursing in public for four years and haven't gotten a snide remark yet. Please, lady, don't go there.

"He's almost three," I answered calmly.

"And you're STILL nursing him?"

Oh, crap, we ARE going there. Keep nursing, keep smiling, hold your head up.

"Yes I am," I said evenly.

"How long do you plan to keep nursing?"

Breathe, be pleasant, don't get defensive, just educate.

"It's up to my son to decide when it's time to stop."

"That's AMAZING!" the woman exclaimed. "I've NEVER seen anyone nurse that long! I stopped nursing when my baby was one, because my doctor told me to. Big mistake! Doctors are idiots when it comes to nursing. When I have another baby I'm going to nurse a lot longer than that. Maybe even as long as you! Good for you for still nursing! You're an inspiration!"

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, September 8, 2010

Letter to Cup of Serenity in Greensboro, NC

Dionna Ford
Co-Founder, NursingFreedom.org

September 7, 2010

James Kithcart and Nancy Garrett
Co-Owners, Cup of Serenity, Inc.

Dear Mr. Kithcart and Ms. Garrett:

I respectfully write this letter to express my concern over an incident that occurred at Cup of Serenity on Monday, September 6, 2010. On that date, Ms. Becky Lange’s statutory right to breastfeed under North Carolina law (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-190.9 (1993)) was infringed on by Ms. Nancy Garrett.

On September 6, Ms. Lange arrived at Cup of Serenity to meet with her parenting group. (The group, TriadMommies, has been meeting at Cup of Serenity since May, 2010.) Ms. Lange ordered drinks and food and settled down at a table with her two children; they were the only customers in the shop.

Ms. Garrett approached Ms. Lange and sat down at the table. Ms. Garrett told Ms. Lange that the Cup of Serenity had gotten complaints about and were losing business because of mothers breastfeeding in the shop, and she asked Ms. Lange to please cover up with a towel when she nursed her 3-month-old daughter.
Ms. Lange explained to Ms. Garrett that there are state and federal laws that protect a woman’s right to breastfeed in Cup of Serenity. Ms. Garrett pressed the issue, saying that she could not afford to lose business, and Ms. Lange and her group (many of whom breastfeed) must cover up or leave.

Ms. Lange followed up on the incident by contacting Mr. Kithcart. Mr. Kithcart apologized for Ms. Garrett’s unlawful actions.

While Mr. Kithcart was apologetic, to our knowledge no steps have been taken to remedy this incident or to make breastfeeding mothers once again feel welcome in Cup of Serenity.

Several acquaintances of Ms. Lange have contacted the local Fox News station, here is a video of the initial interview.

Breastmilk and breastfeeding are the standard for infant nutrition.

There are numerous and well-documented benefits for both children and mothers who breastfeed, as well as risks to those who do not breastfeed. Breastmilk contains growth factors, hormones, enzymes, and other substances that are immune-protective and foster proper growth and nutrition.[1] Breastfeeding is associated with a reduction of the risk for children of contracting pneumonia, staphylococcal infections, influenza, ear infections, severe infections of the lower respiratory tract, asthma, obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, childhood leukemia, certain types of cancer, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).[2]

Encouraging breastfeeding is an integral part of many governmental health and wellness initiatives, including programs created by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, among others.[3] And breastfeeding is not just for infants. The American Academy of Family Physicians 2008 Position Paper on breastfeeding states 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.”[4]

The law protects a child’s right to breastfeed.

Regardless of the many benefits of breastfeeding and its promotion by medical and governmental organizations, state and federal law protect a child’s right to nurse – covered or not. North Carolina enacted § 14-190.9, which reads:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a woman may breast feed in any public or private location where she is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast feeding.

Breastmilk and breastfeeding are the standard for infant nutrition. No mother should ever be made to feel ashamed or embarrassed for giving her child nourishment and comfort at her breast. Another mother might not know her rights. She might comply with unlawful requests to cover up or leave. She might decide to pump or reduce her child’s number of breastfeeding sessions (both of which may reduce her milk supply and harm the breastfeeding relationship). She might even decide to wean her child prematurely.

Please work with me to normalize breastfeeding in our society. I am writing to ask you to take positive steps to help breastfeeding mothers. First, please educate your employees about the rights of breastfeeding pairs. If you need help finding materials or someone to lead an informational session, I will gladly help you find a qualified attorney, Lactation Counselor, or La Leche League leader. Second, you can also display signs that identify your facility as “breastfeeding friendly.”[5] Third, you may wish to issue a formal apology for the actions of your employee.[6]

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to your response, and to encountering more compassionate, educated employees the next time any breastfeeding mother enters Cup of Serenity. You are welcome to respond publicly on NursingFreedom.org, where this letter will be published on Wednesday, September 8, 2010.

Dionna Ford
Co-founder, NursingFreedom.org

[1] Hamosh, Margit, PhD, Breastfeeding: Unraveling the Mysteries of Mother’s Milk, http://www.asklenore.info/breastfeeding/additional_reading/mysteries.html
[2] Ip S, et al., Breastfeeding and maternal and infant health outcomes in developed countries, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17764214; see also Burby, Leslie, 101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child (and citations therein), http://www.promom.org/101/
[3] See http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/ ; http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/policy/hp2010.htm ; http://www.letsmove.gov/tfco_fullreport_may2010.pdf
[4] http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/policy/policies/b/breastfeedingpositionpaper.html; The AAFP’s position is almost identical to that of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/infantfeeding/9241562218/en/index.html.
For similar positions from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other medical organizations, see http://www.aap.org/breastfeeding/faqsBreastfeeding.html#10; see also http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/bfm.2008.9988?journalCode=bfm
[5] This sign would be perfect to display in Cup of Serenity: http://www.cafepress.com/NursingFreedom.458759007
[6] For more information on breastfeeding education and advocacy, please join us at www.NursingFreedom.org

Monday, September 6, 2010

Breastfeeding and Motherhood Tattoos

For those among us who celebrate our lives with tattoos (or simply enjoy body art on others), feast your eyes on some of the breastfeeding/motherhood artwork sent in by our readers!

Arkay celebrated breastfeeding her three daughters with this rendering of Picasso's  "Maternity, 1905." Arkay breastfed Maura for 4.5 years, Miette for 2 years, and Freya is still nursing strong at 3 years old.

Janet got this pin-up model breastfeeding by tattoo artist Tamara VanMeter of Wascally Wabbit Tattoos.

JoEllen commemorated Mother's Day 2009 with this Lotus Birth tattoo. Although not originally meant to represent her son, it now does. JoEllen plans to honor her four lost babies with four flowers placed beneath the lotus.

One mother celebrated her children with a Celtic Knot. A Celtic Knot is a heart within a heart, which represents a mother's love encircling her child, giving it guidance, protection, and encourage.  This design reminds one of the ancient fertility symbols carved by prehistoric people - usually a symbol with large breast and a swollen belly. This was considered a sign that the family or clan had been blessed by the gods and if their women could bare children then their fields would produce bounty crops. Many designs found in the Book of Kells are enhanced with dot-work. This artistic device may have symbolized the monks and scribes moments of prayer. This mother added a red dot for her five-year-old (January/garnet). She will add a green dot for her baby (May/emerald).

Natalie has a nursing "succubine" on her inner arm. The succubine has devil horns,
tail, and halo. The tattoo represents the many facets of a mother: nurturing and care for her nursling, while also sultry and seductive for her partner (her "devilish" side).

Kim has a beautiful picture of a breastfeeding mother.

Mama Tattoo
Natalie has her three children's names on her outer arm, along with three song birds from the Bob Marley song "Three Little Birds." In the song the three little birds sing sweet songs and give the message that everything is gonna be ok. No matter what is going on in her life, she sees her children and knows that everything is going to be ok. They are her three little birds.

This isn't a tattoo, but a rendering of a breastfeeding tattoo on a t-shirt. What a fun way to portray breastfeeding! Thanks to hotmamaink.com for this women's shirt.

Lisa got her two tattoos (this and the one below) to celebrate six continuous years of breastfeeding. She is currently nursing her youngest  (almost three years old), she's tandem nursed twice, and she even tandem nursed through three-quarters of a pregnancy. The letters represent her children's names.

Lisa's "wean me gently" tattoo is from the poem by Cathy Cardall below. Beautiful!

by Cathy Cardall

I know I look so big to you,

Maybe I seem too big for the needs I have.

But no matter how big we get,

We still have needs that are important to us.

I know that our relationship is growing and changing,

But I still need you. I need your warmth and closeness,

Especially at the end of the day

When we snuggle up in bed.

Please don't get too busy for us to nurse.

I know you think I can be patient,

Or find something to take the place of a nursing;

A book, a glass of something,

But nothing can take your place when I need you.

Sometimes just cuddling with you,

Having you near me is enough.

I guess I am growing and becoming independent,

But please be there.

This bond we have is so strong and so important to me,

Please don't break it abruptly.

Wean me gently,

Because I am your mother,

And my heart is tender.

Do you have a breastfeeding or other tattoo that represents motherhood to you? We'd love to share it with our readers! Send us a picture and a brief description (let us know whether you want us to use your name or not): NursingFreedom (at) gmail (dot) com