So, we would like to start this blog off by telling you that in the US, the law explicitly protects mothers who breastfeed their babies in public. But we can’t, because the sad truth is that not all States have laws that exempt mothers from indecency or nudity violations while breastfeeding. Federal law protects mothers while breastfeeding on Federal property and in Federal buildings, however this does not protect mothers in other privately owned places. Ya, we know, jaw-dropping, absolutely horrifyingly astounding and… wrong. Last week we kicked the topic of Breastfeeding In Public off with a lighthearted and fun blog that included celebrities. We wanted to open the topic up with this before we brought to life the sad truth about breastfeeding in public. Although Breastfeeding in Public has gained more awareness this past year in the US (with the change in policy on many well-known social media sites… after harsh criticism) the culture surrounding breasts, breastfeeding and the female body has changed very little in the US. This is what makes Breastfeeding In Public such a HOT topic.
Lets use some facts first. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of life and then to continue breastfeeding for at least one year (Lowedermilk, 2012).
Breastfeeding provides both maternal and child health benefits. Maternal benefits include decreased postpartum bleeding and more rapid uterine involution (Lowedermilk, 2012), a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer (Bomer-Norton, 2014) and reduced postpartum weight retention (Schwarz et al., 2010).
There are numerous benefits to the infant and child with breastfeeding. Long-term epidemiologic studies have shown that the benefits of breastfeeding do not cease when the infant is weaned; instead they extend into childhood and beyond (Lowdermilk, 2012). Infant and child benefits include immunologic protection of infants (Harris et al., 2006) with decreased incidence and severity of infectious diseases such as meningitis, bacteremia, diarrhea, respiratory infection and otitis media (Lowdermilk, 2012). Other benefits include decreased risk of type 1 and 2 diabetes, SIDS and childhood obesity (Bartick &Reinhold, 2010).
In addition to the health benefits there are also psychosocial and socioeconomic benefits to breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is positively associated with maternal infant bonding (Flacking, 2007) and increases the maternal role attainment (Lowdermilk, 2012). Socioeconomic benefits include convenience, less expense of formula, bottles and other equipment as well as a reduced environmental burden to disposal of formula cans (Lowdermilk, 2012).
Whew! That was a lot of medical jargon! Basically, breastfeeding has been proven over and over again to increase good health and decrease incidence of disease and illness when compared to formula fed infants and children. Ok… so why are we not making it as easy and comfortable for moms to breastfeed their babies!?!?!?
Lets talk about the other aspect of Breastfeeding in Public: How mom’s feel about it. Many moms are, themselves, uncomfortable breastfeeding in public. And we understand. Its hard trying to hide breasts! You feel like everyone is looking at you, your baby is uncomfortable under that big, hot nursing cover and god forbid you have a nip slip while your grandfather looks over! Breastfeeding In Public comes with a lot to think about here in the US. We want to support moms and their decision to breastfeed their little ones wherever their desire. Lets Normalize Breastfeeding, because, really, it is the most normal and natural thing… feeding our precious children we love.
Next week is a mommy week! Yup, the blog will be all about breastfeeding in public: tips for moms. This will include tips for traveling and breastfeeding in public (Patti this is for you!) Best nursing covers, breastfeeding friendly areas, pumping covers, milk storage containers and much, much more!
Bartick, M., & Reinhold, A. (2010). The burden of suboptimal breastfeeding in the United States: A ediatric cost analysis. Pediatrics, 125, 1048e–1056e. doi:10.1542/peds.2009-1616
Bomer-Norton, C. (2014). Breastfeeding: A holistic concept analysis, 31 (1). Retrieved from Public HealthNursing. DOI: 10.1111/phn.12047
Lowdermilk, D, Perry, S., Casion, K., & Rhodes, K. (2012). Maternity and Women’s Health Care. (10thed.). St: Louis, MO: Elsevier Inc.
Harris, N. L., Spoerri, I., Schopfer, J. F., Nembrini, C., Merky, P., Massacand, J., et al. (2006). Mechanisms of neonatal mucosal antibody protection. The Journal of Immunology, 177(9), 6256–6262.
NCSL (2015). Breastfeeding State Laws. http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/breastfeeding-state-laws.aspx
Please be aware that this information provided is intended solely for general informational and educational purposes and is not intended to be substituted for professional medical advice. Always see the advice of your physician or medical provider for any questions you may have regarding your or your baby’s medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have received from this website or blog.