The Ugly Side of Nursing Rooms

I support a woman’s right to choose what is best for her and her family. I support women who choose to cover when breastfeeding in public even though I choose not to. I support women who choose to use formula or to wean their babies even though this is not something that I personally choose. I genuinely believe that true empowerment comes when a woman has access to information and is able to make her own choice. I believe that empowerment is about the ability to choose; not the choice itself. I want women to be able to choose when, how and where they breastfeed their children. I know that there are women who would choose to use a Nursing Room if she had access to one. I applaud businesses and public areas that strive to be “family friendly” and provide a comfortable space for a mother. But I will never step foot in a Nursing Room and here are some things we must think about as these become more common.

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We are allowed to be in public. We do not have to go anywhere besides where we choose to be in that moment to breastfeed our child.I don’t like the sour smell of segregation being emitted from the doors of these rooms. These rooms could end up biting us in the ass. Breastfeeding in public for all the world to see is the only way to normalize breastfeeding. I don’t like the idea of these rooms becoming another place that society tells breastfeeding mothers they must go to feed their children. “Ma’am, you can’t do that here, we have a Nursing Room for that, you can go in there.” I understand that this is not the purpose of Nursing Rooms. I understand that they are for women who choose to use them. But I remain skeptical about their benefit toward normalizing breastfeeding. We have as much of a  right to be in public as anyone else. I think “why don’t you go to the bathroom to do that” and “why don’t you go to the Nursing Room to do that” are far too close for comfort.

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The message that breastfeeding needs to be hidden perpetuates the oversexualization of the female body and the act of breastfeeding. It can be yet another way to control women; to keep us separated from the rest of society. These Nursing Rooms could perpetuate the idea that breastfeeding is supposed to be “private,” “modest,” or whatever subjective words are tossed around. No group of people should have to go to a separate room, to the back of the bus, stand outside or whatever just because they all share a certain characteristic that the majority or mainstream finds unusual or offensive. No one has ever made any progress toward normalizing something by going behind closed doors to do it. Especially something that is normal, natural and nurturing. The act of breastfeeding is feeding, cuddling and comforting our young. This is needs to be seen as much as possible. 

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My fear has come true in many ways. I have seen long discussions about the quality and condition of many Nursing Rooms. Mothers upset that this one was is in a bathroom, that one didn’t have comfortable chairs; and mothers praising businesses for the welcoming sign outside of this room and the extra amenities in that room. I completely agree that bathrooms should not be Nursing Rooms. I agree that comfortable chairs show a great deal of effort to making mothers feel welcome. I agree that these conversations are important to furthering the cause. My concern lies when we step back and look at the bigger picture. Is it really furthering the cause? We are here arguing, calling news stations and scheduling nurse-ins over the details of Nursing Rooms; meanwhile we are still being pushed into another room to breastfeed. It’s not uncommon for a cause to be distracted by inter-cause fighting. It’s a common problem that slows things down and has the potential to stop it dead in its tracks. Our mission is to NORMALIZE BREASTFEEDING . To stand up to societal norms that tell us we need to hide. To fight back against the majority saying we should cover, go to another room or stay home.

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I will go out of my way to avoid Nursing Rooms. I do understand that there are mothers who do not feel comfortable doing this. Or mothers that have babies that are just too distracted. Or mothers that frequent areas where you can’t find a place to get comfortable. Or the pumping Mom who needs an outlet. I do not want to make this a black and white situation. I do understand there are benefits to these rooms and I encourage mothers who need to use them to do so. First and foremost I want you to be supported and comfortable. I simply want to present another side of the issue for us to keep in mind as we move forward.

If you want to go into the Nursing Room then I support you. But I will wait out here and breastfeed, uncovered, for everyone to see in hopes that one day you or your daughters don’t feel that you have to go in there.

Abby Theuring, MSW

Ask an Expert: Tips to Pump More Milk

by Ashley Treadwell, IBCLC

Fan Question:

“I need some tips on pumping I almost exclusively breast feed but when it comes to pumping, I still (eight months later) getting less than two ounces.”

Lots of moms find they don’t respond to the pump the way they want to, whether they’re back at work full-time, or just wanting to pump for an occasional bottle.  Below are some tips on how to maximize your pumping sessions:

  • Check all your pump parts to be sure that they’re in working order with no cracks, if you have a Medela double electric, often the small white membranes need to be replaced.  Some lactation consultants will have a vacuum gauge they can use to test the motor and be sure it’s still effective.
  • Take a look at where and when you’re pumping – is it a quiet, private space?  Do you have enough time to relax while pumping?  Stress and anxiety can affect the way our body responds and may impact the amount we are pumping.
  • Have a picture/video of your baby to look at.  Bring a blanket or article of clothing that smells like the baby.  Thinking of your baby will help stimulate oxytocin which helps your milk to release and flow.
  • Place a blanket over the flanges so that you can’t see the amount that is coming out – this will help you to relax more.
  • Stronger and longer doesn’t always mean more!  Be sure to adjust your suction so that you’re comfortable, pumping shouldn’t hurt.  And too much pump stimulation can have an adverse effect.
  • Apply a little organic olive oil on the inside of your pump flanges to help decrease friction.
  • Lastly – use a combination of double/single pumping along with breast massage and hand expression, see video below:

○     http://newborns.stanford.edu/Breastfeeding/MaxProduction.html

Good luck!

unnamedAshley Treadwell is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), blogger on the topic of breastfeeding, and advocate for judgmentfree breastfeeding support for all mothers. Ashley lives in San Diego, CA with her husband, Tim, their two girls, Jane and Evelyn, and their dog, Grace and cat, Abby. She loves running, everything related to cooking and feeding her family, spending time with family and friends, and bad reality television.

Ask an Expert: Weaning From a Nipple Shield

By Anne Smith, IBCLC

Fan Question:

“Has anyone had any experience switching from a nipple shield to feeding without one?”

Answer: I don’t know how old your baby is, or how long your have been nursing him with the shield, but those are factors that must be taken into consideration when weaning him off. Although there are no hard and fast rules, many premature or SGA (small for gestational age) babies don’t nurse effectively until they reach their full-term corrected age, or until they weigh around 6 pounds.

Years ago, nipple shields were made of thick latex (the rubbery amber stuff), and this could cause a reduction in the amount of milk that babies received.  Newer shields are made out of thin, flexible silicone, and don’t cause the same problems.

It may be that your baby needs the extra help with milk transfer that the shield provides at this time, and may just not be quite ready to “graduate” quite yet.

Here are some techniques you can use to encourage him to take the breast :

  •  Provide lots of skin-to-skin contact. Tuck him in a sling “kangaroo style”. Try nursing in the bathtub.
  • Offer him the breast without the shield when he is drowsy. Babies are often less resistant to trying something new if they are partially asleep.
  • Start the feeding with the shield, then slip it off and offer your nipple after the milk has let-down, the initial breast fullness is lessened, and he has some milk in his tummy to take the edge off his appetite and settle him down.
  •  Put a tiny piece of damp cloth in the tip of the shield to stop the flow of milk. Some babies will take the nipple that is dripping with milk once they realize that sucking on the shield isn’t going to do anything for them.
  • Don’t trim pieces off the shield with scissors in an attempt to reduce dependence on the shield. This can result in sharp edges that can irritate your nipple and the baby’s mouth.
  •  Last but not least, be patient. Many babies who have become accustomed to nursing with a shield may take weeks to make the transition to nursing without it. A small percentage of babies never learn to nurse without the shield, but this is rare. In these cases, the mother can still maintain a satisfying breastfeeding relationship with her baby by feeding and nurturing him at the breast.

I hope that your baby will soon make the transition from nursing with the shield to nursing without, but regardless of when (or if) that happens, you can feel good about the fact that in spite of the challenges you encountered in the beginning, you are continuing to provide him with the many nutritional, immunological, and psychological benefits of breastfeeding.

Anne Smith, IBCLCAnne has been helping moms reach their breastfeeding goals for over 35 years, as a La Leche League and an IBCLC in private practice since 1990. Breastfeeding six children gives her a unique combination of first hand experience as well as professional expertise. In 1999, she started her website,www.breastfeedingbasics.com, with lots of information on breastfeeding and parenting, and a wonderful group of bloggers, including Abby from The Badass Breastfeeder, Rachelle from Unlatched, and Marie from Anarchy in the Sandbox.

Join the more than six millions of moms who come to Breastfeeding Basics each year for information and support, and visit Anne on Facebook.

Not So Gentle Parenting

By guest blogger Terri

Like most things in life, the things we do are cultural. I believe you either do exactly what your parents did or the exact opposite of what they did. Either way, the way you were parented will affect the decisions that you make in adulthood….right down to the type of toothpaste and cereal you buy. So it is no huge coincidence that when I became a mother, I picked and discarded the staples of parenting that had been present in my childhood. [Read more...]

Badass Breastfeeder of the Week: Week of 4-7-14

Some people think to be “badass” you have to breastfeed topless on a crowded bus or stand on your head or hold a gun. This could not be further from the truth. The word “badass” became a part of this very early on for me. It simply symbolizes doing things our way. Questioning authority, questioning norms, questioning the mainstream. To me “badass” means being open to new information and choosing what is right for your family despite what everyone else is doing. This week’s Badass of the Week represents this. She is doing things her way. It might look different than other families. It might not be what the majority is doing, but it is what works for her and her family. It is about being true to what feels right.

katherine Despite being nearly 4 years old, this one still wants his nursies. Esp at night and when he doesn't feel good... like today in this picture.

“Despite being nearly 4 years old, this one still wants his nursies. Especially at night and when he doesn’t feel good… like today in this picture.”

-Badass Katherine