Tag Archives: public breastfeeding

Breastfeeding IS a Big Deal…

Standard

20140421-225857.jpg

I recently ran across a blog post that posed the question, “Should We Stop Acting Like Breastfeeding is a Big Deal?”

While I agree with a few of her points, I believe that the post is very subjective and the author has blissfully lived in a land of acceptance and privilege and has never encountered the harsh realities that some of us have. But the answer to the question is ABSOLUTELY NOT!

I do agree with the fact that breastfeeding should be viewed as the normal thing to do. It absolutely is the normal thing to do. However, the whole world doesn’t see it that way, and until it does, and mothers are no longer being harrassed for doing such a normal thing, there is a real need for activism in the breastfeeding community.

The author wrote this, which really stuck out to me:

 I (like most nursing mothers) was never ever asked to leave or cover when nursing despite doing it front and center in the middle of church, at theme parks, stores, and restaurants and even wedged between two men on many a flight and many other places. I never once had a negative word spoken to me while nursing and lived in three states with widely varying opinions and acceptance for breastfeeding (California, Texas and New Mexico).

Maybe that’s why she doesn’t understand why we should NOT stop acting as if breastfeeding is a big deal.  She has never had to deal with the negativity. She’s never been asked to leave the mall while she was breastfeeding her toddler in the play area because the security guard on duty wasn’t made aware of the malls pro-breastfeeding policy. I have, and it wasn’t fun. It was humiliating. It was embarrassing. It should never have happened, and the reason that it did is because I live in Mississippi and just the word “breastfeeding” is associated with a shameful act.

Perhaps she doesn’t understand why we should NOT stop acting as if breastfeeding is a big deal is because she hasn’t been forced to nurse or pump in a filthy bathroom or encountered the glaring looks of her fellow worshipers during church services while she breastfeeds her infant.

Or maybe she hasn’t been called a “child molester” because she was “still” breastfeeding her 3 year old or had her child taken away because he was breastfed longer than what is socially acceptable. She hasn’t been told that she was only doing it for her own pleasure and that she was leaving a permanent scar on her child because of it.

If it were so easy to “just breastfeed as if it were the normal thing to do” the breastfeeding rates wouldn’t be so low and this wouldn’t be an issue.

So it isn’t realistic to say, “Oh, just simply breastfeed.” That’s exactly what we are trying to do. We aren’t trying to make a statement, we aren’t trying to create controversy, nor do we have an agenda. But when these things happen, breastfeeding mothers NEED support. They need others to rally around them and know that there are others who understand and support them. It isn’t about getting blog hits or creating drama. It’s about mothers supporting mothers.

Part of the problem, though, is that it isn’t just that easy. In this hyper-sexualized culture, breastfeeding is the underdog. Many children don’t grow up seeing others breastfeed, and the deficit in the breastfeeding rates is contributed largely to that.  Breastfeeding is a right-brain function, therefore, when mothers don’t see it, sometimes they really don’t know how to do it. We are bombarded with books and information on how to breastfeed, but when we over-think it and let the left brain take over, the emotional aspect takes a back burner. The way that we remedy this is by seeing other mothers breastfeed. When we learn from others, we don’t have to “overthink” it too much and that allows the right brain to take over.

So, what happens when we don’t know any other breastfeeding mothers to watch?

This is where social media comes into play for a lot of mothers. In an informal poll on my Instagram account, I asked mothers about their experience with breastfeeding and social media, and if any of them “learned” to breastfeed through social media and immediately got comments like these:

I totally did!! Y’all I’ll be honest- I never gave it much thought. I wasn’t for or against it. But during my pregnancy I found websites, blogs, etc and discovered just how AWESOME breastfeeding is! And through pages like this one I saw pictures and it made it seem beautiful and natural. I’m proud to say we are going on 8 months ebf and have no end in sight. It’s a beautiful and sweet experience and I’m SO SO SO thankful for social media making it out there and ‘normal’ for mass amounts of people.”
Social media didn”t help me “learn” to breastfeed BUT I did learn a lot breastfeeding in general. But ultimately, taking a breastfeeding class while I was still pregnant was the best decision I ever made. And then having a great LC afterwards. Social media did help me decide to nurse in public!
 
Several people mentioned that they had learned to breastfeed from watching YouTube videos. So, having those “in your face” breastfeeding photos has a very important purpose for those without the priviledge of a “real life” support system.
 
The point is, until breastfeeding IS viewed as the normal thing to do, breastfeeding needs to be marketed  just as much as formula is marketed (although it won’t happen, since we are up against BILLIONS of dollars…). We are in the overwhelming majority, and when mothers are harrassed and discriminated against it is a big deal.

 

Advertisements

Pumping in the Bathroom: A Look at the Real Dangers

Standard

20140220-164814.jpg

A Fall River, Massachusetts breastfeeding mother who was prepared to meet her civic obligation as a juror in district court last week was told by an officer of the court to pump breastmilk for her 5 month old baby in the restroom.

Although there are no laws to specifically exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty, according to the Massachussetts Trial Juror’s Handbook, jurors “have the right to reschedule your jury service to a date that is convenient for you, up to a year from the date you were originally summoned.”
Nonetheless, nurse & first time mother Colleen Swanson, who was at the time unaware of the hardship extension clause, showed up for jury duty prepared to pump for her baby during their absence, but reasonable and sanitary pumping accomodations were not given to her. Mrs. Swanson told me that apparently this is not the first time that a breastfeeding mother has been asked to pump in the restroom since the officer didn’t seem taken aback when she asked for a place to pump and immediately directed her toward the restroom and even gave her an extension cord to use.
She was told by a local reporter covering her story that a representative from the court stated that had she complained, she would have been given better accommodations.
Thankfully, Mrs. Swanson was not impaneled, which is a good thing since the case involved was a murder trial!
I doubt that, given their lack of sensitivity in regards to a sanitary, private pumping area, they would have been accommodating for a mother who has to step out to pump every couple of hours.

So what’s the big deal? The bathroom isn’t so bad, and at least it’s a private place, right?
WRONG!!!!

Let’s just put this matter into perspective with peer reviewed research, shall we?
Raise your hand if you refuse to even sit down on a public toilet seat? I canter into a public restroom and proceed to squat over the seat, being very careful not to touch the germs that I know are lurking there. (Ok, most of the time I do use the seat covers & sit down…I just said that to make the point that we already know that bathrooms are gross) I flush with my foot, and after I wash my hands, I keep my paper towel so that I won’t have to touch the germ-laden door knob. But according to the research, toilet seats are the least of our worries…
New research conducted by microbiologist Dr. Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona, showed that the average toilet paper dispenser has more than 150 times the amount of bacteria than the average toilet seat. Paper towel dispensers were found to have over 50 times more bacteria on average than a typical public restroom toilet seat. Further, this study concluded that toilet plume aerosol (the water & particles that are ejected from the toilet when we flush) could play a contributory role in the transmission of infectious diseases.
That’s right. When we flush, millions of tiny fecal (POOP!) particles are thrust into the air and land on all of the surfaces of the restroom. Have you ever been into one of those mega-fast, overdrive toilets that sound like a jet plane taking off flushed? Can you imagine the “plume aerosol” from those???

A study by the Infectious Diseases Society of America seen here showed that mall, hospital, offices, lecture hall, conference center, department stores, restaurants, airport, and resort restrooms contained “predominant gram-positive organisms including Staphylococcus spp., Micrococcus spp., Bacillus spp., and Enterococcus spp. Isolated Gram-negative microorganisms were mostly Enterobacteriaceae (e.g., Escherichia coli, Klebsiella spp., Cronobacter spp., Leclercia spp., Pantoea spp., Serratia spp.) or non-fermenters. Quantitative cultures documented extensive contamination of all high-touch surfaces. For several restrooms, the quantity of microorganisms was too numerous to count (TNTC), even given our process of counting up to 1,000 CFU/ml. Faucets, soap and paper dispenser operating levers, and the exit door handle of restaurants and aircraft restrooms were more likely to have concentrations of microorganisms TNTC compared with other locations. ”
You read that right: There were so many harmful microbes in the restrooms that they tested, because there was so much bacteria, it was too much to count!
Whoa.
They concluded that “documented extensive bacterial contamination of high-touch environmental sites in 22 public restrooms and aircraft, including a wide spectrum of Gram-positive and Gram-negative microorganisms. Cultures obtained in the restrooms of fast-food restaurants were more likely to have quantitative colony counts TNTC. Cultures of high-touch sites in three restrooms located in different areas of a tertiary care hospital yielded six microorganisms that are responsible for two-thirds of healthcare-associated infections.”

Private, indeed.
Actually, when we use a public restroom, it isn’t a private experience at all. We are subjecting ourselves to all of the bacteria of all of the people who have used that restroom recently, and this poses a serious heath risk, especially for vulnerable individuals such as infants.

A restroom is no place for food, of any kind, and is certainly not the place for a tiny baby to eat!
Knowing all of the dangerous germs that are lurking in public restrooms, would you prepare your food or sit down and eat your dinner there?
Certainly not! So please don’t expect an infant to.

Here’s how you can help:
Call or write the Fall River District Court and let them know that a public restroom is NOT a sanitary place for breastfeeding mothers to pump and respectfully ask them to make accommodations for future use.

Mailing Address
Fall River District Court
186 South Main Street
Fall River, MA 02721

Main phone number
(508)491-3200

Have a boobiful day & leave a supportive comment for beautiful mama Colleen! ❤️

Like us on Facebook
And on Instagram & Twitter @latchthebabes