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, December 19, 2011

Holiday NIP Marathon

Just before Thanksgiving, my son, Josias came down with a nasty cold. The doctor referred to it as a "croupy virus." Thankfully, the doctor did not feel antibiotics were necessary. I might have saved myself a trip to the doctor's office, though. Josias has been sick a few times in his 19 months and he always knows exactly what he needs: for Mama to hold him and to breastfeed 24/7.

The last time Josias was sick, he was under a year old and was still breastfeeding frequently. This time, though, he is over a year and a half. In the last few months we have drastically reduced the frequency of breastfeeding sessions. I stopped pumping at work a few months ago, so I don't really have any milk in my breasts during the day.

This did not phase him. Milk or not, Josias needed Mama's boobies. So, boobies he got. 

Within a few days, most of Josias' symptoms had disappeared. This was good news since we were planning a trip to visit family over Thanksgiving. Once we got on the road, however, I noticed that although his symptoms had subsided, his desire to breastfeed had not. In fact his requests for "melky" were unending, and when at my breast, he would hold on to it for dear life (see photo, ouch).

Our Thanksgiving consists of a meal at my aunt's house. The number of guests feels like the population of a small town, but in fact is her extended family. After the meal, we sit around chatting while we wait for it to be time to eat again. We then make the rounds of our favorite restaurants in town. The entire trip is focused on eating, and usually in front of a lot of people.

Josias and I have done a lot of NIPing in his lifetime, and no one has ever said a negative word to me. But on this trip, I found myself in new territory. There I was in a different state, traipsing from one public place to another and breastfeeding my (very large, by the way) toddler continuously. For the first time, I felt a bit conspicuous and wondered if someone would say something to me.

The only person that said anything to me was my aunt. She asked questions about how long Josias would breastfeed, why he needs to breastfeed more when he's sick, and how it comforts him. My aunt has three grown children and did not breastfeed any of them. She wanted to know how breastfeeding works and feels, and the impact it has on bonding with a baby. I sensed a bit of regret that she hadn't had the opportunity to find out. As we left, she hugged me and told me what a great job I'm doing with Josias.

I hadn't known at the outset of the trip that we were entering a NIP marathon, but on the backside, I feel like we won the medal. Josias has fully recovered and is still breastfeeding like it's going out of style.

I wonder what NIP adventures our Christmas trip will bring.

Do your baby's breastfeeding habits change when he or she is sick?  Did they change as your baby grew into a toddler?

Photo credit: Author

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Sleeping Habits of a Breastfed Baby (and his Mama)

When I was pregnant, I got so excited about the numerous benefits of breastfeeding. I read over and over about all the great things breastfeeding would do for mama and baby.

Even though I knew every baby (and every mama for that matter) is different, I wish I had known HOW different Josias and I were going to be when it came to breastfeeding. Maybe I could have prepared myself for what laid ahead.

Not for love or money would I give up the breastfeeding relationship I have with my son, but no matter how hard we tried, we just couldn't cash in on all the benefits the experts talk about. 

The most striking benefit that we could not seem to reap was regarding sleep. Many mothers expound upon the virtues of breastfeeding and how it helps them get more sleep. While that may be true for the masses, Josias and I just weren't feeling it.

Month 1
We had a rough go of breastfeeding at first.  Because my milk didn't come in (or perhaps it's more accurate to say, some "helping" professionals at the hospital convinced me that it didn't come in), we spent the first month of breastfeeding using a syringe to supplement with formula. At night, we were feeding every two hours, so with the need to supplement with a syringe, that did not result in a lot of sleep.

Months 2-3
After the first month we were able to stop supplementing completely, but it didn't get a whole lot better in the sleep department. I hadn't yet figured out that it would be a heck of a lot easier to co-sleep with Josias and feed him in bed than it was to keep him in the bassinet and get up every two hours and feed him in a chair. 

Around the second month, I got wise to this strategy and we started to fall into a rhythm. He started sleeping longer and longer, and by the third month, five straight hours of sleep was not outside the realm of possibility.

That was just about the time my maternity leave ended and I had to go back to work. I had visions of sleeping all night, being fully rested and being oh so productive at my job. Josias thought otherwise.  He wasn't going to take this new lack of access to the boob during the day lying down, so he pulled the ol' reverse cycling manuever.

Months 4-15
Months 4-15 consisted of breastfeeding every 2-3 hours throughout the night. Here again, many mothers talk about how co-sleeping saved their sanity by allowing them to pretty much sleep through feedings. My sanity was not to be spared. While it is infinitely easier logistically to co-sleep and to latch Josias on, being the light sleeper that I am, I just could not sleep through breastfeeding. Even worse, once I was awake to feed Josias, it took me a long time to get back to sleep.

Right around the twelve month mark I was starting to feel at my wit's end with exhaustion, so I began to research how I could gently encourage Josias to sleep longer. I tried a few of the strategies proposed by Elizabeth Pantley in her book, The No Cry Sleep Solution:
  • I gave Josias a lovey to attach to instead of the breast (yeah, right!);
  • I unlatched Josias over and over (and over) again as he fell asleep to get him accustomed to sleeping without the breast (nope, not having it);
  • When he woke during the night, Papa tried soothing him back to sleep (absolutely not!);
  • I put Josias on a separate mattress on the floor (this resulted in somewhat longer sleep in the initial hours of the night, but overall didn't yield the result I was hoping for).
Months 15-18
At 15 months I decided that I had reached my limit on the sleep deprivation front, and I also felt Josias was old enough for me to try something a little more assertive to help him sleep through the night. Our strategy was this: I would breastfeed Josias to sleep, and then my husband would sleep with him in a separate room to see if Mama's absence would encourage longer sleep. Against the advice of co-workers, family, friends, doctors and random strangers in line at the grocery store, crying it out is not something I considered. 

We decided that when Josias awoke and cried, Papa would try to soothe him back to sleep. If he cried for more than a few minutes or seemed really upset (I can usually tell from his cries if he'll go back to sleep without breastfeeding), I would come into the room and breastfeed him back to sleep and then return to the other room.

Over the course of two or three months, Josias started sleeping for longer and longer periods of time, and when he did wake, he became less and less upset about not having a boob at his disposal. At 18 months he now sleeps through the night about 95% of the time, still sleeping with Papa. Sleeping through the night means going to bed at 8pm and waking anywhere between 4-6am.

Month 18 and Beyond
I hope this post doesn't sound negative. Breastfeeding Josias has been one of the greatest joys of my life. I'm writing this to share my unrealistic expectations around breastfeeding and how we coped in the face of those. And although I have learned quite a bit over the last 18 months, looking back, I would not change a thing. Would Josias have started sleeping through the night sooner if I had employed the same strategy earlier?  Possibly. 

But, I wasn't ready to ask him to stop night feedings any sooner, and more importantly, I didn't think he was ready. I miss co-sleeping with Josias. As a mama who works full-time outside the home, I loved the time we spent together at night. But each mama and baby have to decide what is best for them and what works for them. I don't know if or how long Josias will continue to sleep through the night. I also don't know if there will come a time when we can resume co-sleeping.

What I do know is that we have found an arrangement that feels right for now. Josias is a happy, healthy boy, and we are doing the best we can, which is pretty darn good. 

When did your baby start sleeping through the night?  What was the experience like?

Photo credit: Author

Monday, October 24, 2011

Today I Stop Pumping

It is a momentous day for me, and for my seventeen month old son, Josias. Today I will stop pumping breastmilk. At the height of Josias' breastmilk intake, I was pumping four times per day. One time early in the morning before work, and then three times at work. For the last two months I have been slowly eliminating one pumping session every few weeks. 

I had the most optimal work environment imaginable - a supportive boss, a private office, and a flexible schedule, all of which allowed me to pump three times a day, every day, right on schedule.  And it was still excruciatingly difficult.

I just couldn't seem to make enough milk to satisfy my beautiful, healthy, intelligent, growing boy.  I took Fenugreek and Goat's Rue; I ate oatmeal everyday; and I sipped Mother's Milk Tea. I ate well, I drank a lot of water and I exercised. I breastfed as much as possible when Josias and I were together, including up to six times per night. I saw a lactation consultant, who advised me to engage in breast compressions while pumping.

There were times when there was nothin' left in the freezer, and I wasn't sure if I had enough milk to see him through the day. I was so stressed about not making enough milk that I was surely preventing myself from making enough milk. Even though I realized this, I just couldn't stop worrying about it. Somehow, though, we squeaked by. 

Whenever I turned to someone for support, they always said, "just give him formula." If I had to supplement, I would have, but this was almost everyone's go-to response, and it was not helpful. What would have been helpful? Just listening, and maybe telling me I was doing great. Looking back now, I wish I could have eased up on myself a bit. I believe babies should get breastmilk whenever possible, but I also think sometimes conditions just don't allow you to meet the ideal, and us mamas need to be kind to ourselves and each other.

Now that I'm done pumping, Josias will drink organic almond milk at daycare along with the tons of food he consumes, and we'll breastfeed when we're together. I am so relieved not to have to pump anymore. I can finally admit that although it was my greatest desire to give Josias all the breastmilk he needed, pumping was a difficult and stressful thing for me. 

In addition to relief, I have other feelings coming up. I feel a bit weepy that my baby is growing up. I feel proud that we both hung in there and I provided for him as best I could. This also makes me think about the day when he will no longer breastfeed. That may be a couple years away, but I'm sure it will bring with it the same mixture of relief, sadness, pride and recognition that my baby is growing up, which is as it should be. Pumping has been a hard row for me to hoe, but the end result is my joyful son, my sweetheart, who we affectionately call Josias Pie.

Did you pump breastmilk? For how long? What was your experience like when you stopped?

Photo credit: Author

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Call for Volunteers

We want to continue growing here at NursingFreedom.org, and we want to make sure that we are listening to our readers, incorporating your suggestions, interacting and answering questions, and furthering our mission (to normalize breastfeeding - anytime, anywhere).
We are looking for a few good volunteers to help us stay connected with our readers and continue with the work we've started here at NursingFreedom.org.
Do you have a passion for normalizing breastfeeding and educating the public about breastfeeding issues? Do you have approximately one hour each week to volunteer? We need your help! Here are some of the volunteer positions you can get involved in:
  • Manage Social Media: Help manage our Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and other social media accounts.
  • Lactation Consultant: NursingFreedom.org would like to work with one or more volunteer lactation consultants who will agree to answer one or more reader questions each month about breastfeeding.
  • Authors: We always need new content to feature on NursingFreedom.org. If you write about breastfeeding issues, we would love to publish your work. Please see our contributor guidelines for more details.
  • Miscellaneous: Do you have a particular talent that would lend itself well to our community? Are you a political guru? Help us change some of the draconian breastfeeding laws! Are you an organizational genius? Help us organize our resource page! We will try to plug you in to utilize your talents.
If you want to help, we want to work with you. Please email Dionna {at} CodeNameMama {dot} com if you are interested, and we will send you our "volunteer expectations." 
Thank you for reading and supporting NursingFreedom.org.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pumping in Public: Riding the Rails

When it comes to exposing my body, I fall squarely on the side of modesty. Showing a stranger my private parts is not my idea of a good time. Soon after I became a mother, however, I learned something new about myself. When my baby is hungry or needs comfort, I will do whatever it takes to get him what he needs.
IMG_3510 Steam Train at Weybourne in motion

My NIP (nursing in public) initiation happened when my baby was three days old. I was still trying to figure out breastfeeding, let alone doing it in public. There we were in the middle of the DMV, and my son started wailing as only a hungry newborn can. It was as if a switch was flipped, and an as-yet untapped instinct kicked in. That instinct clearly told me to feed my baby first and deal with how I felt about it later. So, I lifted my shirt (exposing my recently pregnant and misshapen belly), undid my bra (with my large, pendulous boobs flapping in the breeze), and breastfed my baby. Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles think what you will!

I was stunned by my willingness to expose myself. But Josias stopped crying instantly and our NIP fate was sealed. I would breastfeed him anywhere, anytime. To heck with modesty and naysayers!

Since then I have breastfed in public a lot, including: a used car lot while haggling with a salesman; on planes and trains; on work trips in front of colleagues; at the mall; at the park; and on the street. I also breastfeed in front of family, friends, acquaintances and in-laws. I am both happy and surprised to report that nary a negative word has been said to me. So, you get it, right? While I don't relish everyone and their mother seeing my boobs, I really don't care as long as Josias gets what he needs.

Once I had mastered NIP, I thought I was fearless. That is, until one crazy-busy day with two long train rides. As a breastfeeding mother who works full-time outside the home, I rely heavily on my pump. When I have to be away from baby, it goes with me everywhere. A work trip which required a three hour train ride put me in new territory. I would not have any other time that day to pump except on the train rides back and forth. So, I had to ask myself, how do I feel about PIP (pumping in public, is that an acronym)?

The Amtrak train to Trenton would test my commitment to exclusively breastfeeding my baby. My reluctance was compounded by the fact that the only way I can get milk out while pumping is to engage in breast compressions. Could I do it? How would it work? Is it legal? Would I be embarrassed? Would people think I was crazy? Would someone report me? I went over it in my head for days. I asked people what they thought. I consulted all-knowing blogs and websites.

Finally, I decided pumping on the train was my only option and I would do it without embarrassment. I had to feed my baby and I had to ride the train. I made sure all my equipment was in order, I wore a big shawl to provide as much coverage as possible, and I went for it.The first session on the ride up to Trenton was uneventful. The train was sparsely occupied and I don't think a single person noticed. The ride back however, was jam-packed. The woman sitting next to me definitely knew something was up. I think she was afraid to investigate and didn't really want to know what that sound was or why I was seemingly fondling myself. After all was said and done, though, it really wasn't that big of a deal.

I learned two things that day. It IS possible (though, in my opinion certainly not preferable) to PIP. And I will truly do WHATEVER it takes to get my baby what he needs. To all the mamas out there that do whatever it takes to give babies what they need: YOU ARE AWESOME!

Have you pumped in pulic? How did it go?

Photo Credit: Roger Blackwell

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Breastfeeding Friendly Skies

I recently boarded a plane en route to a destination far, far away with my 15 month old strapped to my chest. Many people, when asked, might prefer an invasive medical procedure over flying for six hours with an active toddler. Josias and I are not going to win any popularity contests on a plane.

As we board the airbus, most people surreptitiously study my movements in hopes of divining where I might sit. I imagine that they are praying to their god that it's not by them.

We find our (middle) seat, and I smile and give a friendly hello to the woman next to me. She grunts in response and seems none too pleased to have us for neighbors. What she doesn't knowis that this mama is armed with a strategy: fly with a friend, fly when baby is sleeping, and most importantly, breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed!

I have had a few flights where I wanted to slip Josias an elixir to subdue him, but for the most part, this strategy has served us well.

As the engine starts and the safety video begins, a latecomer slips into the seat next to me. He smiles, says hello, and then says, "congratulations on breastfeeding your baby." We chatted a bit more, but mostly we minded our own business. Josias slept and breastfed throughout the entire six hours. At the end of the flight, I thanked him for being so nice, and he smiled. He probably has no idea how his few simple words left this travelin' mama feeling supported and so lucky to have her babe with her on a long flight.
We are honored to host a guest post today from Dena. Dena is a mama who works full-time outside the home. She stays attached to her son, Josias, through breastfeeding, babywearing and co-sleeping, not to mention bringing him with her on cross-country work trips. Dena blogs about motherhood, yoga and green living at Earth Mama Yoga.

Monday, March 21, 2011

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. No one told her to take it to her car. No one sent her to a restroom. No one gave her a disgusted look. There won't be an outraged newspaper article, followed by a nurse-in, followed by an embarrassed position statement from the farmer's market association. The simple, beautiful act of a woman feeding her son passed as it should: without fanfare, without event. I admit that I may not have even noticed her if her beautiful toddler hadn't approached my son in his stroller to engage him in a sweet baby exchange. She nursed her son while shopping for vegetables with the agility of a seasoned breastfeeding veteran.
It was just like it should be, and it was a beautiful thing. Sadly, the fact that I am compelled to blog about what should be a common occurrence means that it isn't so common.
Is it any wonder that so many women report having difficulty breastfeeding? Is it any wonder that the act of nourishing a child, something our bodies are so beautifully designed to do, is so hard for so many women? Should we be at all surprised that women, women who are good mothers, opt to forego breastfeeding entirely?
Where are our breastfeeding role models?
Do you know who the first woman was that I ever saw nursing? It was me. Before Jack was born, I had never even seen a woman breastfeed. I've certainly seen babies eat: I've seen moms walking around, well, everywhere, bottle in hand and babe in arms. But before Jack came into my life, the act of nursing was so shrouded in mystery that I had never even witnessed it before.
That's not right. But it is a direct consequence of our "cover it up" culture. How are we supposed to learn if we cannot observe? And how are we supposed to observe if women are being shunned into restrooms or exiling themselves to their homes during feedings?
I want to add my small but determined voice to the chorus of brave women calling for the normalization of breastfeeding, calling for a cultural revolution where the breast is first and foremost for breastfeeding.
I want my son's future wife, and his future daughters and their daughters, to never have a reason to think twice about what I saw at the farmer's market yesterday. I want that to be normal.
This post has been edited from the original version published at Monkey Butt Junction.
We are honored to host a guest post today from Jenn Collins. Jenn is a green mama and natural parent who blogs at Monkey Butt Junction. She has embraced attachment and natural parenting principles in an effort to follow her heart and achieve balance between the demands of a full time job and the call of motherhood.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Simple Stretches and Self-Massage Relieve Tension from Breastfeeding

New moms have it rough the first few months. As breastfeeding starts and new moms get comfortable with their role, they spend a lot of time looking down and holding the newborn in their arms. While that may be blissful at the moment, a few weeks of breastfeeding can cause stress and tension all through the neck and chest area. But there’s a simple way to relieve that tension.

As a massage therapist in Louisville and Nashville, I see these changes first hand, especially as a new mother starts to breastfeed. Nursing moms can carry a lot of tension in the arms, chest and the front and sides of the neck. This can result in headaches, achy and sore shoulders, tired arms and numbness/tingling in the arms and hands. Most of the time, some short stretches or self-massage tips can ease up that tension and give moms a little relief. Some of these stretches you can even do while you are nursing! I put together a short video of the stretches and self-massage tips so my new moms can watch and follow along.

My new mothers enjoyed the Self-Massage for Nursing Mamas and New Moms video, and I hope you’ll find it helpful, too!

If you find yourself with neck and shoulder pain – especially after breastfeeding or when you’ve been holding your infant for a while, try some of these stretches and self-massage tips to open up the chest and front of the neck. Look around the room a bit and stretch out the front and side of the neck while you are nursing. I know it’s hard, but try to keep from gazing down at your little one the entire time with your head tilted down or to one side – that puts the whole weight of the head in the hands of muscles designed to move the head, not support it.


Heather Wibbels, LMT, practices massages therapy in Louisville, KY at www.MassageByHeather.com. For eight years, she's worked extensively with clients suffering from chronic pain, stress and stress-related injuries and illnesses. A key part of her practice includes using her blog to give clients self-help tools like self-massage and stretches that can make a difference in their daily lives.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Breastfeeding Beyond Infancy: Radio Documentary

Dionna of Code Name: Mama nurses her 37 month old.
When my son was about two years old I started noticing that I was becoming a little self-conscious sometimes when nursing him in public. One night while visiting family in New York, we were having a late dinner at a restaurant and my son was sleepy and cranky. When he asked to breastfeed, I discreetly positioned him to nurse in an effort to soothe him. My grandfather was clearly surprised and asked, “How long is that going to go on?” I happily retorted, “At least 5 minutes”.

While that is the extent of “criticism” I received for nursing my son past infancy, I had heard many stories in the media and from friends about negative public nursing experiences, as well as critical comments that people had received for breastfeeding beyond 6-12 months.

I began to think a lot about the discrepancy between these stories and experiences, and the recommendations put forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization. I also thought a lot about how something that felt so natural and normal could take on emotional associations like shame, embarrassment, discomfort, or in some cases, even anger.

I decided to construct a radio documentary featuring the largely “unheard” voices of some of the many articulate, intelligent, informed, nurturing mothers who chose to breastfeed past infancy – in an effort to help foster a more informed cultural conversation about this issue.

“Breastfeeding Beyond Infancy” is an independently produced hour-long radio documentary. It features the voices of fourteen women who have breastfed their children between one and four years. Half of the women reside in the San Francisco Bay Area and half in New York City. Some of the major topics covered include: dealing with judgment and criticism, public nursing, benefits and challenges, changes in perception, weaning, nursing while working, and support. Also featured is commentary from Dr. Nigel Rollins, of the World Health Organization, Dr. Jay Gordon, a Fellow of the American Association of Pediatrics, and Dr. Katherine Dettwyler, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Delaware.

Extended breastfeeding (breastfeeding past one year) is arguably among the most heated and controversial child rearing choices, occupying an emotionally fraught landscape along with co-sleeping, sleep training and discipline. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months, and then for at least a year, or as long as is mutually desirable. The World Health Organization recommends that a mother breastfeed her child for at least two years. The recommendations are based on countless studies showing significant health benefits of breastfeeding for babies and children, as well as for mothers. However, science and societal views don’t always align.

Because of the potential for judgment about the basic merits of their parenting, many mothers keep quiet about the joys, frustrations, challenges, and struggles of nursing their kids past babyhood. This can lead to mothers feeling isolated and unsupported. It is this lack of support, in addition to the fear of public criticism that leads many mothers to wean before they and their children are ready.

The goal of this radio documentary is to stimulate dialogue about breastfeeding past one year in the United States. In addition, it aims to educate mothers, family members, and health care practitioners about the benefits and challenges of breastfeeding past infancy.

You can listen to a clip of Breastfeeding Beyond Infancy here, or listen to the show in its entirety and read more about it at Knitwise Media.

“Breastfeeding Beyond Infancy” was produced by Vanessa Lowe, whose background includes a doctorate in Clinical Psychology, as well as four years as host of a radio show on KWMR, a community radio station in Point Reyes Station, CA. She is a musician and songwriter, and has released four records, with a fifth due for release in 2011. Vanessa is the mother of a five-year-old son.

Kent Sparling, a Bay Area composer, sound designer and re-recording mixer associated with George Lucas' Skywalker Sound, completed the final editing and mixing of “Breastfeeding Beyond Infancy.”

Photo credit: Code Name: Mama

Monday, February 21, 2011

Answering Objections to Nursing in Public

navy-pier-chicago-4mBreastfeeding in public necessarily means breastfeeding around other people. And where there are other people, there are comments: some good, some bad.

I fortunately haven't encountered a lot of negativity during my three years so far of breastfeeding, but I have thought about what I might say if I ever do. (And, you know, if I were the type of person to have a witty retort always perched on my tongue that I could spit out at a moment's notice.) Well, it doesn't hurt to be prepared, right? (And it doesn't hurt to dream, either!)

So if you want some comebacks ready, so that you're not scrambling with mouth agape when a query comes your way, here are some possible responses to criticisms or questions.

I had the decency to pump milk so that I could feed from a bottle in public.

Play on sympathy, with a nod to sarcasm: Oh, you're so lucky. I've tried pumping, and I get absolutely nothing out. Good thing I have this convenient milk supply attached to me!
Try debasing yourself for a higher purpose: That would be wonderful — if I weren't so danged lazy. I just really can't be bothered to sterilize and thaw and pump and all those other things, when this way's so much easier.

If you just plan ahead, it's not hard to schedule your outings around feedings. Nurse before you leave, and then just get home before the next feeding.

Play the "expert" card: My pediatrician said my baby needs to eat every hour or even more often if she wants. He also said I had to get out for fresh air, so … [Shrug your shoulders and look innocent.]
Oh, did you say you liked sarcasm?: That used to work before I fired all my servants, but now I no longer have the luxury of staying home for a year and have to run all the errands myself, nursing baby or not.

When are you going to stop nursing in public?

Snarky: Well, we have an ongoing pool. What age do you want to put money on? We've still got 7 and 13 open.
Bore them with facts: Well, Katherine Dettwyler studied various other primates and looked at factors such as length of gestation, when teeth erupted, life span, and age of sexual maturity, and she determined that "the minimum predicted age for a natural age of weaning in humans is 2.5 years, with a maximum of 7.0 years." So … [Proceed to read the results of the research aloud to them until they stop listening. NB: These facts are absolutely fascinating to me; I just doubt the same is true of someone criticizing your choice in this regard!]

Cover up!

Blame it on the baby: My baby doesn't like having his head covered when he eats. It gets too hot and stuffy under there.
Continuing in an oh-so-gracious vein: But you feel free to put a blanket over your head if it makes you feel better.

Wouldn't you be more comfortable feeding in the restroom?

Counter it: Um, no. Would you be more comfortable feeding in the restroom?

I don't want to look at that!

Obnoxious: That's why God gave you a neck, honey. Use it.
Saccharinely uncomprehending: But who wouldn't want to look at something so precious and natural as a baby snuggling with his mama?

I don't think that's appropriate here.

I don't think your butt's appropriate here. [Ok, that's just my standard response for whenever I can't think of a response.]

That's against the law.

Refer to legalities: Um, no, officer [manager, random passerby], it is actually perfectly legal. What you are doing in asking me to stop is illegal. [It helps to have a general idea of the relevant laws for your state or region, but you can always look them up later and make a complaint if necessary. For convenience, carry a copy of the laws with you — NursingFreedom.org has created cards for each state.]

Breasts are sexual.

Go anthropological: Yes. Yes, they are. They are also functional, and their primary function apart from arousing potential sexual partners is to feed infants. We are mammals, after all.

Women who insist on whipping out a boob in public are just exhibitionists.

Confirm their fears: So, so true, darling. [Then make a whipping noise while unclasping your beige boulder-holder and latching on your innocent infant.]

Seeing breastfeeding is just so weird.

Matter of fact: Well, that's why I'm doing it, so it will become less weird for everyone.

[Any objection or question at all]

Pass the bean dip.

You are not obligated to respond or debate, particularly if you think your answers will fall on deaf ears or be misinterpreted. What you are doing — feeding your baby — is entirely unobjectionable. So if anyone does object? That's their problem.

Other versions of this (non-)response, which work for nursing in public as well as other parenting decisions you make:
This is what works for us.
This is what our doctor [midwife, etc.] recommended.
Thank you for sharing your opinion.
It's interesting to hear your experience.
We've given this a lot of thought
[or done a lot of research], and we're comfortable with our choice.
Make a joke. (Self-deprecating often works best to deflect the conversation.)
If all else fails: Hey, look, is that a giraffe on a skateboard? [This gives you time to flee.]

Some of the potential (and oft-repeated) criticisms of public breastfeeding I listed are simple ignorance; some come from a place of really wanting to be informed; and some are just mean-spirited and unreasonable. How you choose to respond to any such comments that come your way depends a great deal on the motivation of the speaker and your own comfort level with confrontation.

Whenever I'm trying to decide whether or not to engage in a debate with someone (particularly someone I know), I ask myself, Is there any way what I say will change this person's mind? and Is this person really asking me a question or just setting up an opportunity to air a contrary opinion? What and how much I say depends on my answers to those questions. If I get the sense that my responses will be ignored or used as ammunition against me, I often withhold them entirely. That said, you might be surprised what seeds you're planting if you can respond in a reasonable and respectful way.

A lot of the answers I wrote are more what would be fun to say, rather than what I would ever actually say in such a situation. Although, if you do manage to blast out something fiery — more power to you! Do share!

For further reading, see kellymom's post on "Handling criticism about breastfeeding," which is a helpful and thoughtful take on the topic.

What are objections you've heard to breastfeeding in public, and what are your witty responses? These can be responses you actually said or ones you just wish you'd have said.

Hobo Mama family photoLauren is the breastfeeding mama to three-year-old Mikko and a baby on the way. She blogs at Hobo Mama about natural parenting, is a co-founder of Natural Parents Network, and co-hosts the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting. You can also find her at Hobo Mama Reviews and LaurenWayne.com.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Joys of Nursing in Public #6

My story isn’t technically a NIP story, but it gives me such a warm and squishy feeling every time I think of it that I want to share it. A few weeks ago I was having a garage sale with a couple of my friends. We were hanging out in my garage, talking, drinking ice water, and selling our junk.

My four and half month old son started showing some hunger signs, and even though I was in my own garage, on my own property, I was slightly nervous about nursing him. What would I do if someone had the nerve to make a comment to me? What would I say? I think I was actually more nervous about nursing him there than I have been ever. I know my rights, I know my state’s laws, I know what to do and say if someone approaches me in public. But strangers saying something to me at my house?

I realized that I was being silly. Besides this being my property, one friend is a lactivist, the other is very pro-breastfeeding and I KNEW they’d have my back if anything were to happen. So, I sat down with my son, grabbed the Boppy, and started nursing him right as a couple of older people walked up the drive.

We all said hello and the couple browsed. The woman walked near me and started admiring my baby. “Oh!” she said, “that is the best thing for him!” And she started telling me about her grand-daughter who lives in Chicago and breastfeeds her daughter. “She’s about 18 months now. And don’t you know? They taught her sign language for 'milk!' I could never breastfeed my children. I couldn’t… you know, make a nipple.” (I think maybe she meant she had flat or inverted nipples. )
This woman, who we found out was in her 80s, went on and on to me about how amazing it is to breastfeed, even though she wasn’t able to nurse her own kids! I was nervous to nurse in my own garage and this great-grandmother turned it all around for me. I was smiling and happy the rest of the day! It also made me excited to hear about a woman who is still breastfeeding at 18 months and is obviously doing things so well that she impresses her own grandmother! We all know that our mothers and grandmothers can be the hardest ones to win over, if they didn’t breastfeed, and I feel a sense of pride for a woman in Chicago who has a grandmother as great as this one!


Rebecca lives with her husband, sons, and dog, in Dayton, OH. She’s a SAHM who enjoys reading, playing Candyland, breastfeeding, and gardening. Rebecca blogs at Completely Serendipitous.

Photo credit: Hannah
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.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Multi-Purpose, We Are!

After my participation in the Carnival of Nursing in Public and a related phone conversation I had with my brother Matthew, I got to wondering: What is it about breasts that makes it so difficult for people to appreciate, accept, (even celebrate?) their multi-functional nature? (This is a comment-turned-post in response to Lauren at HoboMama's post on Christianity's effect on breastfeeding.)

The first day of the carnival was dedicated to posts about "creating a culture of breastfeeding in a hyper-sexualized world". This is obviously the big reason that people are anti-breastfeeding in public. I assume that they think, because of cultural influences, that breasts are innately and primarily sexual organs, and should not be exposed in public, because if you are exposing your breasts in public, you must be doing something lewd or inappropriate. Breasts were obviously intended and created by nature (or God) to feed babies. They make milk, after all! Humans are the only mammals who grow their breasts prior to needing them for feeding purposes. Maybe that is what confuses the situation?

But regardless of any of this, what confuses me the most about this argument that breasts are sexual things is that there are many parts of our bodies that are used for sexual purposes as well as practical, functional purposes. For instance, the male urethra is used for expelling both urine and semen; the vagina is used for birthing babies and, well, making them.

So then the argument becomes: But it isn't socially acceptable to urinate or give birth in public, so why should people breastfeed in public? My answer to that is: Because it provides nourishment, comfort, and love to a child. (As my brother put it in our phone conversation, "How can you be against feeding babies?!")

Just about any body part can be considered sexually attractive, fetishized, or used for sexual purposes. When we eat, drink, talk, laugh, or sing in public, are we denying that mouths are used for kissing? I think not—we are just celebrating that mouths have many purposes (many more, even, than breasts)! Aren't our bodies simply amazing?
This post was previously published by Amy at Anktangle. Amy writes about the things she holds close to her heart: family, delicious food, and many aspects of natural parenting. She is passionate about natural childbirth, breastfeeding, gentle, intuitive parenting, and respecting all people, no matter how small. She’s figuring it all out as she goes, following her instincts with her son as her guide.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Nursing Our Future and the Holistic Moms Network

An article published in Australia's Herald Sun (2/2010) indicated that many Generation-Y women polled would not nurse their babies because of fear of embarrassment over public breastfeeding. As much as 75 percent of these young women felt that nursing in public was uncomfortable and few understood the benefits of breastfeeding for themselves or their babies.

Inspired by the article in the Herald Sun (Australia), the Holistic Moms Network launched a project to highlight the beauty and confidence of breastfeeding women. HMN members from across North America submitted photos of themselves proudly breastfeeding their children - everywhere from the Eiffel Tower to the Brooklyn Bridge - for the Nursing Our Future video.

Empowering mothers is a cornerstone of the Holistic Moms Network's mission and through the non-profit organization's Chapters, parents gather to offer one another support and advice while also learning about holistic living options from local practitioners and guest speakers.

"One of the barriers for many young mothers is a lack of awareness about breastfeeding as well as a culture that is not particularly breastfeeding friendly," argues Dr. Massotto. The Holistic Moms Network hopes to raise awareness by showing young women images of breastfeeding and to help them find the support and encouragement they need to continue.

You can learn more about the Holistic Moms Network at their website www.holisticmoms.org. HMN is based in NJ and has 110 chapters across North America. We're not in Australia but we were inspired to create the video after the AU newspaper article.

Many thanks to Julie Wagner of Holistic Moms Network for sharing this story with NursingFreedom.org!

Monday, January 24, 2011

I Almost Gave Up

I almost gave up
. . . but then I didn’t.
I was about to wean my 4 month old baby. It wasn’t that I was emotionally ready - I was drying up. I was frustrated and tired and I was constantly trying to breastfeed, pump, wash bottles, and care for two babies under two years of age - all while being a SAHM, part time hairdresser, and starting my own business. I was exhausted.
I went back and forth debating on whether I wanted to try the supplements or power pumping, or a nursing vacation to get my supply up . . . or just let it go. I had a few months worth of frozen milk. My daughter could make it to 7 months or so on what was stored. In the research process I stumbled across some wonderful breastfeeding blogs. And it hit me, I didn’t WANT to stop breastfeeding, it was just too hard to maintain. Why is it so hard? Because I let it be. I fell into the ‘boobytraps.’
I was unaware of my rights to breastfeed in public, so I carried expressed milk every time we went anywhere. I couldn’t keep up with my pump schedule when we went anywhere because, let’s face it, who is really going to stop halfway through the zoo and lug kids and all of your stuff back to the car every three hours for a fifteen minute pumping session? If I ever did attempt to nurse in a public area (with a cover, mind you) I felt like I was doing something wrong and was paranoid that any minute someone would say something to me. Not to mention all the stares. Even when friends or family were over at my house I’d pump and feed because I didn’t want to make them uncomfortable (I’m not at ALL modest so it wasn’t about my comfort.)
I’m over it. I’m so glad I persisted instead of giving up. I’m so glad I found this treasure trove of wonderful women who advocate for nursing mothers. Breastfeeding is a wonderful, natural, special thing. I cannot believe that I almost missed out because our society is so misinformed and backwards. I hope that soon all of the issues we breastfeeding mothers deal with today are gone and a new mother will feel comfortable feeding her baby any way she wants anywhere she wants without worrying about anything. Ladies, enjoy that sweet gift from God nursing at your breast for as long as you want, it’ll be over all too soon.

Bonnie is a married 25 year old SAHM to two beautiful girls ages 2 and 6 months. She is also a part time hairdresser and small business owner. You can find her creations at boutiques in Alabama and online at Bonnie's Bows.

Photo credit: Author

Friday, January 21, 2011

Help Change Tennessee Law

I first researched Tennessee's breastfeeding laws during NursingFreedom.org's 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public. I'm not a Tennessee Native, so I had never given it much thought until NursingFreedom.org encouraged mama's to learn about their states' law, and to carry the law with them for protection (assuming the law protects breastfeeding pairs). 
Upon reading the laws for my state, I realized that since my son was nearly 3 years old, we would not be protected from indecency laws if we needed to nurse while in public. I had many emotions, but the one that stands out the most was sadness. I was deeply saddened that the state I lived in thought it only necessary to protect mothers who were nursing babies younger than 12 months. How would this affect a mother who wasn't entirely comfortable nursing to begin with? Would this law affect her decision to nurse beyond one year, or worse, to nurse at all? 
I'm a huge fan of "Be the change you want to see." Instead of being astonished and leaving it at that, I decided to take action. I began an internet search for history on this particular law and came up with scarce results.  My next step was to compose a letter to my representatives (you can read my letter at this link). 
I didn't have high hopes. I never anticipated a single return email. I never expected other moms in my state to respond and write their own letters. The response was overwhelming. I can only imagine what  the Senators and Representatives thought the next morning when they checked their email. 
My imagined morning email check from an unnamed Legislator:

"Diane, what are all these emails about breasts in my inbox?"
"Sir, did you say breasts?"
"Yes, I did. I have 5,698 emails all about breastfeeding. Can you email them all back for me?"
"What should I say?"
"Tell  them something, anything, just be nice. I don't want to be squirted in the eye."

Ok, that may have been a bit extreme, but I tend to over-analyze sometimes!
I received a few responses, surprisingly enough, ranging from "I'm retiring," to "no change needed," (that was from Rep. Ron Ramsey, here is his response), and finally "let's take some action." I was certain the latter email was a bluff. 
Sen. Mike Faulk returned my initial email the very next morning. He said: 

Thank you, Lisa, for your informative e-mail. As I recall the discussion on this bill, there was no discussion of a longer period of time, shorter period of time, or any time constraint whatsoever.
By sending a copy of this e-mail to my administrative assistant, Deana Guenther, I am asking her to forward your e-mail to the State Commissioner of Health for comment.
Once I've heard from the Commissioner, I'm certainly willing to consider an amendment to this law to extend the period of time breastfeeding is protected.
Mike Faulk

This was the email I was sure was a bluff. All smoke and no fire. I was very wrong. 
I recently had a nice surprise in my email from another mom I had joined forces with earlier. Her boss alerted her to a proposed bill in the Senate that removes the age limitation in the law permitting mothers to breastfeed in public children who are age 12 months or younger. You can view and track the bill here.  
I admit, when I saw the bill, a little rush of excitement, and a huge Oh My Gosh moment washed over me. How exciting to be even slightly involved! But then I realized, the hard part has only begun. 
Now we have to rally our efforts and call and write even more than before so this bill will also be introduced into the House, and then it can be voted on. Then, and only then, will we make a difference. 
Even as I write this I know my time nursing is soon coming to an end. My son is now 3.5 years old and only nurses once a day. I will not give up, even if he weans before this is over. It may not affect me, but it could affect my children's children. If not them, this law could discourage another mother from giving her baby the best start possible in life. It's for those babies, for those mothers, that the law matters the most
Now, we need your help more than ever. Call and write your Legislator. Let her/him know that you are in favor of this bill! 
You don't know who to call? No problem! Follow this link to find your Legislator and their contact information. The more interest in the bill, the more likely it will become part of the law. 
Not from Tennessee? It doesn't matter - if you ever visit Tennessee or are planning a visit to Tennessee, we still want you to call or write. You can find a list of all TN Senators at this link.

When you call your Senator, you can say something as simple as this: "Please protect all breastfeeding pairs by voting for Senate Bill 0083. We need to remove the unfounded age restriction!"

When you write your Senator, here is a simple letter you can add to and edit:

Dear < insert name>,

I am writing to ask that you please show support of Senate Bill 0083, so that it may pass and be signed into law. With an abundance of research in favor of breastfeeding beyond the 12 month mark, we, as a state, need this bill to encourage mothers to continue breastfeeding as suggested by the World Health Organization. May we begin to reduce our state's obesity rate by aiding mothers to give their babies the very best start in life, and protect them while doing so. 

Thank you for your time and effort into this matter. 


Many thanks to Lisa of YoHo Graphix (an Etsy shop that has great breastfeeding gear!) and Iced Mudd for being a wonderful advocate for breastfeeding rights!

Monday, January 17, 2011

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. I did not nurse my older son as long as I wished, and I was determined to nurse my new baby for at least a year. I was positively giddy at the prospect of nursing, and I educated myself on all aspects of the endeavor. This research included the laws in my state regarding breastfeeding in public.
California Civil Code § 43-53, Section 43.3 states: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present.”(1) Armed with this knowledge, I understood that I could breastfeed my son anywhere so long as I didn’t barge into strangers’ homes.
Within the first few weeks of my son’s life, I breastfed in an elevator, a grocery store, a doctor’s office, the mall, and several restaurants. I could not tell you if I upset anyone because the time I spent nursing I was focused solely on my son. Watching my baby nurse was bonding, soothing, and empowering. I was feeding my baby with my own body! Before my son was a year old I had breastfed on a family road trip across several states, on a plane, at parties, and on countless benches in a variety of venues. If he was hungry, I fed him.
My sole requirement for nursing my son in public is comfort. When he was a tiny infant I could nurse him easily and comfortably in a sling while walking, shopping, or eating. As he grew I was unable to nurse him while standing, so as long as I could find a place to sit he was able to eat. Sometimes that place to sit was on the ground, but he didn’t mind as long as he had his Mama’s milk.
For the first year of my son’s life I did not worry about bringing food or drink when we left the house. If he was hungry I nursed him. Bottles filled formula or pumped milk were just not a part of my routine. It was liberating to never worry about running out of milk, or having it spoil in the heat. The only downside was having to repeatedly assure my mother that I did not need to bring a bottle or cup when I left the house. She was always concerned that my son was thirsty. For a baby that existed almost solely on breast milk for the first year of his life I am doubtful that thirst was ever an issue.
Now that I’m breastfeeding a seventeen month old toddler, nursing is not his main source of nourishment. He eats real meals, drinks a variety of beverages, and nursing is not as important as exploring his world. However, he still nurses for comfort and reassurance sporadically throughout the day and night. We still nurse in public, but not as frequently. The world is an exciting place when you are a toddler, and Mama’s milk is not the foremost thought in his head.
Whenever he asks to nurse in public, by signing “milk” and looking excited, I look for a place to sit and feed him. Sometimes that is the outdoor furniture section of a home improvement store- which I highly recommend for the plethora of seating options. Sometimes it is a bench at the local zoo. Wherever, it is not about being discreet. It is about finding a place to park my bottom, focus on my son, and relax while I offer him food and comfort.

1. Breastfeeding and Healthy Living: California Laws


Sam has been writing at Sam's Stories since 2005. She is the proud mother of two boys with another on the way.

Photo credit: Dionna at Code Name: Mama

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winner: Beauty of Mothering Calendar

A big congratulations to the winner of the 2011 Beauty of Mothering Calendar:


Vanessa said:
"I would keep the calendar for myself, to inspire me on tough days to keep our breastfeeding relationship going :) That, and who doesn’t love breastfeeding photos?!"

This was a joint giveaway with CodeNameMama.com, so entries were combined and one winner drawn. Vanessa entered at Code Name: Mama.

If you were not the lucky winner, you can buy the 2011 Beauty of Mothering Calendar from their website. 2011 Beauty of Mothering Breastfeeding Wall Calendars are 13 month (December 2010 through December 2011), 12x12", and include lunar cycles and breastfeeding quotes. Each calendar is $14.99 + $4.99 shipping and handling.

The calendars are available now exclusively through Beauty of Mothering using your choice of Paypal, Amazon Checkout or Google Checkout.

For a limited time, NursingFreedom.org and Code Name: Mama readers can get a 10% discount on the calendars! Click the "Buy Now" button below to get your 10% discount - you can only get it here!

Be sure to connect with Beauty of Mothering:

Disclosure: Our reviewer received a free product for review.
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