I was really excited to be invited yesterday to the launch luncheon for the Bravado Breastfeeding Information Council. This is an organization, funded by Bravado Designs (the nursing bra company), that plans to provide accurate and “non-judgmental” information on breastfeeding, both to journalists and to mothers.
I think that’s quite needed, don’t you? I wrote a whole chapter for my book on my own nursing experience: how I headed into it with total dread, how I kept waiting for someone at the hospital to tell me what I should be doing, how I got sent home 48 hours later with no more idea of how to feed my child than I had before he arrived. I do not think my experience was unique.
Here were a few of the research findings discussed at the luncheon yesterday:
–“First Generation Breastfeeders” are in need of extra support. These are the women whose own mothers and mothers-in-law did not breastfeed. (hand raised) At best, formula-feeders of another generation cannot be helpful to a nursing mother. At worst, they can be actively discouraging. Thank goodness, this was not the case for me; while I really wished my mother and mother-in-law could have been more actively supportive, they were nothing like one woman we heard about, who told her daughter-in-law that she should not nurse because it was, quote, “not natural” for the baby to see her topless.
–There is a man behind the milk. 70% of nursing women say their feeding decision was one they made with their partner’s input and/or support. (hand raised again) I am not sure I would have even tried it if David hadn’t been so gung-ho that Breast was Best. Science and statistics are the way to the dad’s heart, BBIC’s research suggests, and getting dads on board is crucial to breastfeeding success.
–Businesses that are supportive of breastfeeding can expect incredible loyalty from their mother customers. And it’s not that hard! Two lines in the employee handbook of, say, Banana Republic, stating that nursing mothers are welcome to use an empty dressing room whenever the store is not busy, would make a world of difference– and, BBIC suggests, would help such a business’ bottom line, as well.
–To keep a working nursing mother happy, all her employer really needs to provide is a door, a plug, a fridge, and a sink. OK, maybe a chair too. But it doesn’t have to be a suite all “Pottery Barned out,” as one panelist suggested yesterday. Just a place to pump in peace that isn’t a filthy restroom. Employers that provide this can expect great loyalty from their employees who are mothers.
The BBIC says there’s lots more where that came from, and I certainly look forward to reading more. What I loved most about this initiative is the total lack of uber-boober sanctimony. As one panelist, lactation consultant Heather Kelly, put it, “Our goal should be to give every nursing mother a successful experience, however she defines it.”
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