Born To Be Breastfed > 2015 > September

Breastfeeding: It’s Your Right

DeLorenzo_forBlog Listen to the podcast “Know Your Breastfeeding Rights”
Read Jill DeLorenzo’s story. Her big “offense” was breastfeeding her child in Gold’s Gym. Note that Jill was a paying member of the gym, and had breastfed there before. But apparently on this occasion, doing so was an “offense.” Some unnamed person at the gym was offended that Jill was so bold as to feed her own children from a body part that is designed for that purpose, and so two high-ranking members of the gym administration (including the executive vice president of the management company) told Jill to move. Although they could have suggested that the complainant shift his or her gaze in a different direction, gym leadership chose to act in favor of that party’s feelings rather thanJill’s right to breastfeed.

All too often, people in positions of authority think they can strong-arm a mother with such tactics as intimidation, threats of legal action, and references to an un-posted (and likely nonexistent) policy about breastfeeding in public. In Jill’s case, the vice president noted that since the gym “is private property, we can do what we want to here.” He dodges Jill’s question about how he feels about breastfeeding in public, noting that “I’m protecting rights for our members—and how our staff feels as well.”

Without question, it would have been easier for Jill to relocate to the women’s locker room to continue breastfeeding. But she didn’t. It wasn’t convenient for her, since she had two children along—and, anyway, she knew that she shouldn’t be shamed for breastfeeding her child. She remained glued to the chair and fought for every minute her baby needed to feed. When she left the gym, she didn’t quit fighting; she took the fight to a bigger stage! She joined efforts to push for legislation to protect a woman’s right to breastfeed in the state of Virginia.

I hope every woman understands that it is not illegal to breastfeed in any US state, and nearly all states have laws specifically protecting a woman’s right to breastfeed. Personally, I think it’s silly that we need a law to protect the right to breastfeed—generations of Americans breastfed without them!—but obviously, we do need such a law!

Change can and does happen with each woman who refuses to be intimidated. Join me on the show while Jill is my guest, and find out you how to help women in the US to have their right to breastfeeding protected.

Related resources:
National Conference of State Legislatures: Breastfeeding State Laws
Women’s Law Project: Breastfeeding and Pumping Laws
BreastfeedingLaw.com
Normalize Breastfeeding: A Breastfeeding Awareness Media Campaign
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Juggling Breastfeeding and Child Care

shutterstock_childcareWorker_momandBabyListen to the podcast “Breastfeeding and Childcare: Solving Unforeseen Problems”
Listen to the podcast “Breastfeeding and Child Care”

Most mothers know that keeping up their milk supply and expressing milk in the workplace are best handled with information-seeking and appropriate planning. Far fewer, if any, realize that a child care provider may make or break their breastfeeding experience. Here are five tips for making the whole breastfeeding-and-daycare thing work out:

1) Select a caregiver who is 101% supportive of your breastfeeding goals. Remember that no matter how much training and information a caregiver has, it won’t substitute for shared values and mutual respect. Be sure the caregiver or facility creates an atmosphere (both a physical atmosphere and a communication environment) that protects and supports breastfeeding.

2)  Know federal laws and state regulations in your state about breastfeeding and paid child care. Along with that, be aware of any special recognition or resources that childcare providers have or have access to that support breastfeeding.

3)  Clearly communicate your goals, preferences, and directives. If you are determined to have nothing but your milk offered to your child, be upfront and say so. If you want to breastfeed the baby when you arrive at the caregiver’s location, make sure they know not to offer the baby a full feeding minutes before you are scheduled to arrive. If a pacifier is okay but formula is not, be sure you make that clear. 

4)  Clearly write out your child’s needs, norms, and preferences. Remember that many childcare providers, even if they have undergone training, have had little experience with breastfed babies. Until now, they’ve had no experience with your baby! Ask them to keep brief notes about your child’s feeding experience each day. You’ll know how to best express and provide enough milk, and they will know how to best offer what your baby needs.  

5)  Predict and plan ahead for issues and problems that might happen that will be different from the at-home situation. The away-situation is fraught with many issues: traffic jams and late pick-ups, overfeeding, or the baby refusing an artificial nipple are just the tip of the iceberg of issues that require some advanced planning and problem-solving. If you have built a good relationship with your child care provider, you’ll be better able to overcome these challenges in caring for your baby.
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