Sunday, July 11, 2010

Baby friendly, one baby at a time

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about baby friendly communities. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!

I've found Utah to be a very kid friendly state. I mean, they even have "Movies for Moms" where you will only find moms with preschool age and younger children at the movie theater. You can't go to a restaurant without seeing children. There are loads of activities here geared for families from water parks and museums to story times and petting zoos. I've taken my children to restaurants, theaters, museums, fairs, parks, festivals, you name it. As for baby friendly, we could probably up the ante.

I have only once been asked to cover up while nursing, and for that I consider myself lucky. I was on a flight from California to Utah when my middle child, Lila, was an infant flying with a SLC based flight crew. I was nursing Lila in preparation for take off. When a flight attendant put a blanket in front of me I assumed he was being kind to the woman traveling alone with two children. When I said no thank you, he just stood there holding the blanket out in front of me. Finally after I gave him an expression of "why on earth are you still holding that blanket in my face?" he said "Some people get offended." I was quite certain I was the only one who was offended. Of course I was so steamed at the time that I kept my mouth shut in fear that if I opened my mouth a stream of profanity that certainly would have offended many would have come screaming out. I did not quit nursing Lila and he never said another word.

Unfortunately I hear lots of stories like these from my nursing peers. I hear even worse stories too. Stories where hospital staff tell women to breastfeed their babies only every three hours for fifteen minutes. Stories of nurses giving pacifiers to newborns when parents have specifically requested that none be given. Stories of women who are told they must wean because they have mastitis, or because they have to have surgery, or because their baby bit them or just plain because they doctors or nurses don't have the answers so it's just as easy to tell moms to quit nursing. How is this baby friendly, I ask? I often wonder how doctors, obstetricians, pediatricians even, can get so much schooling but still know so little about how breastfeeding actually works.

How can we make ourselves a truly baby friendly community? In my mind it starts simply with mothers breastfeeding their babies. Breastfeeding openly and normally. Mothers teaching their daughters and sons, the next generation of parents, about breastfeeding and about what is normal. That would be a start. If we could each tell our pediatricians that there are other schools of thought regarding on demand nursing, co-sleeping, starting solids, weaning and all the other topics in between maybe they'd start to listen. I have a million other ideas for a perfect baby friendly community from moving to a completely midwifery based maternity care system with home births being the norm to strict requirements for doctors and hospitals. The thing is I can't make everyone see the benefits of having a midwife or a home birth and I certainly can't change hospital policies, but I can teach my son and daughters. I can tell my pediatrician "No I don't own a pump because all I need to breastfeed are breasts." I can tell the mothers I see at the park "It's nice to see you nursing your baby."

I'm one of those people that believes what each person does counts. I believe that we all make a difference. So I will start with my small community of five. Hopefully it will spread like wild fire.

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Timbra Wiist said...

I love "small community of five". . . .many similar sentiments WITHOUT peeking first :)PS. . . LOVE LOVE LOVE the pic for so many reasons. . .but lila's small hair is the best!

Melodie said...

Nicely said. Professionals who know less about these things than well-informed parents make me sick. I can't fathom the number of new mothers who've been given rotten information about breastfeeding and then fail or stop because of it.