Bravado Breastfeeding Information Council

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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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous November 12, 2009 at 1:24 am

I had a co-worker who was very pro-bf when she had her children. She was almost frightening in her adamancy. And even though I no longer work with her, her words seeped in to my brain. Believe it or not, she was the first reason I made the first step towards bf for my first child.

I've been frustrated with it at times, annoyed with carrying the pump, having to care so well for myself so that I could care for my child, and being tied to another being so closely. But you know what? That's my course in motherhood. I think bf has made me a better mother by forcing me to learn lessons early and quickly.

Lastly, I praise the nurses at the hospital. One in particular took her time to explain to me, as I was freaking out, how to hold my child, how to position. The nursing consultant and all the other nurses throughout my time at the hospital were WONDERFUL in helping and encouraging me. I did end up with a nasty case of mastitis after I arrived home, but that was due in part to other medical issues. I realize how fortunate I am now.


Phoebe November 12, 2009 at 3:48 pm

I wish there was more support for Mothers who would like to breast feed but cannot, for whatever reason. My son was tongue tied and could not latch on. After 6 brutal weeks of constant pumping, crying with frustration, fearing for my son's health and a complete lack of resources to go to for help, I gave up. I felt like a coomplete failure as a Mother. The Lactation Counselor at the local hosiptal also found me to be a failure as a Mother and made that very clear.
Nothing would prevent me from trying it again with the next one but it remains a cause of anxiety for me. It would have been very useful to have some support during that time and would relieve some of my anxieties now to know there would be support if it happens again. Maybe you can help to represent the breast feeding challenged.


Amy Wilson November 12, 2009 at 4:45 pm

thanks for your comments, anonymous and Phoebe. I find it really interesting that even among the three of us, there were such disparate experiences in terms of support sought, and support received. Anonymous says she had amazing nurses at the hospital. Phoebe says she tried for six weeks and got no support whatever, including from a lactation counselor. I got zero support at the hospital and hired a postpartum doula to teach me how to breastfeed. Without her I might never have succeeded. Why is there not more standardized care and support for the new mother when it comes to breastfeeding?


LutherLiz November 12, 2009 at 5:30 pm

This is interesting to me. I do think more education needs to go into the difficulties of breastfeeding and the choice to "breastfeed by bottle" as I call it…or rather feeding the baby only expressed breast milk.

My son was born premature and when his suck reflex did finally develop it was an up and down motion and not front to back. It worked with a bottle but would cut off the flow from the breast. Since I had begun pumping from the get go, so he could use breast milk even when tube fed in the NICU we just continued with that.

I've been pumping exclusively for almost 9 months and am hoping to get to a year. It is impossibly hard some days and I feel like I'm attached to the breast pump, but he's still gotten the benefits of breast milk.

On the other hand I feel like I got shortchanged on the bonding time of breastfeeding, but he still seems to like me ok 🙂

I'm happy to talk more about my journey if anyone cares to know more.

P.S. I agree that lactation consultants can be down right mean and way to heavy with the bad mom guilt.

morgenstar20 at hotmail dot com


SeattleMom November 13, 2009 at 3:07 pm

I totally agree on the first-time breast-feeding mom situation. With our oldest, we attended the birthing bootcamp in the last couple of weeks. My personal main goal was to find out how the feeding works, and what I'm supposed to do. We missed that section of class, because I went into early labor and had our son.

Later, the nurse asked if I knew how to breastfeed, and I said I had no idea. She offered to show me what to do, and I was grateful at first. Turns out, the demo was to grab me in an odd way and sort of shove it into my son's mouth. The whole thing was uncomfortable, more than a little embarrassing and totally strange.

Luckily, my mom said I'd just know what to do. My initial thought was that she had finally lost it, and the decline had begun. Instead, she turned out to be right. Things went smoothly after a few tries and it all worked out great.

In the end, I'm definitely grateful to have had the chance to share the experience with our three kids. My husband is happy that we made a strong healthy choice. And my kids don't remember at all [probably best].


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