On Breastfeeding


Recently, Mothering Magazine put the call out for someone to create an international breastfeeding symbol. After a series of voting rounds the winner was selected (see right). The idea is that it can be used in Airports and Malls and the like to alert parents to Family rooms and breastfeeding friendly areas.

I love it. I think that it is simple and clear and (if you’re sensitive about these things) doesn’t imply that all babies are bottle fed. I wonder if it will catch on and if we’ll start seeing it in airports around the country.

It also started me thinking about my own experience with breastfeeding. I knew from the start that I wanted to breastfeed. I think that God did a pretty good job designing the human body to do what it needs to do. Why pass up something nutritional and so convenient? And with the cost of formula, and the time and energy needed to wash bottles breastfeeding seemed like the best decision for us.

When we learned that Catherine would have to hang out in the hospital for a while I was worried that I’d have trouble nursing her. I was adamant that she not get formula, and luckily, the NICU doctors agreed with me. I was able to express breastmilk, freeze it and bring it to the hospital. Catherine was able to take it first by NG/feeding tube and then by bottle.

Once she had her IVs removed we started to attempt breastfeeding. We had a tricky start. We had some latch issues. It was nothing that some practice and patience couldn’t cure. By the time she left the hospital we had stopped using the bottles and were well on our way to figuring things out together. It was tough, it was tiring, it was frustrating, but in the end was well worthwhile. We’ve had a seven month breastfeeding relationship that is still going strong.

During Catherine’s first two weeks I was fortunate to meet with a couple wonderful Lactation Consultants who helped us with the learning curve. Now that we’re doing well I find myself wanting to encourage other women who are breastfeeding or who want to nurse their babies. The LCs are all registered nurses, so I can’t do it in a professional capacity. I’ll have to stick with the old fashioned route and support others by example and by offering encouragement to those I know personally.

Do any of our readers have thoughts on this topic? I’d love to hear what you think.

6 thoughts on “On Breastfeeding

  1. Bethany Joy Lange

    Rebecca –

    Yea for breastfeeding mommas who are committed despite difficulties! My sister gave birth to twins in July and attempted to breastfeed for a while, but it just got to be too much. They had a start though – first 3 or 4 months. I think she always had to supplement with formula and after a while it was too much to do BOTH all the time. After our holiday vacation to see family and seeing her & her husband constantly buying formula & mixing up bottles & washing them, I felt privileged to be able to breastfeed Simon. It also makes me wonder how I’d handle twins…. It was interesting to realize that anyone could feed the twins though – there was no need for my sister to be there. Partially, I felt a little envious of that freedom, but mostly it made me cherish the additional relationship Simon & I have developed through his “num-nums”. 🙂 Now we’re at 13 months, and I’m thinking about when I might want to wean him…probably before he’s two, but I have no specific plans.

    One thought I have about the breastfeeding symbol is that it sort of implies that there are specific places that you AREN’T permitted to breastfeed. With all the hype (Delta, etc.) about breastfeeding in public, I sort of wonder what the impact might be. I’ve always just nursed Simon wherever & whenever we needed to. Periodically I’ve had some awkward or angering situations, but mostly it’s been really encouraging. I nursed him on a bench in Target once – I think I was in Las Cruces, NM – and a woman from the snack area came over with a cup of water from the drink machine. “I always got so thirsty when I nursed my babies – I thought you might like some water.” I was amazed and really appreciative, because I always get thirsty too.

    I do get a little tired of the “hyper-breastfeeding advocates” who are judgmental of anyone who uses a bottle (at all – some people seem to think it’s not even okay to use a bottle with breastmilk in order to give mom a night out!). But I think it’s critical that our country learns to welcome and celebrate breastfeeding, rather than feel threatened by it. It’s bizarre how much “skin” can be in the media and people accept it without too much criticism, but if those same persons see a woman nursing a baby, it’s “inappropriate” and they “don’t need to see that”.


    I agree that God did something amazing by creating mothers and babies with the necessary mechanisms to allow for breastfeeding. I’m so grateful that it’s something I’ve been able to do! Thanks for this post, and for posting the new icon too – I hadn’t looked it up yet, although I’ve been reading about it in Mothering. Are you renewing your subscription? 🙂

    Happy 2007!

  2. Rebecca Post author

    BJ- “One thought I have about the breastfeeding symbol is that it sort of implies that there are specific places that you AREN’T permitted to breastfeed.”

    I hadn’t even thought about that. Like you I nurse pretty much wherever (and have never been hassled) and forget that some people have an issue with it.

    I hope that maybe the symbol will just make more women feel comfortable with nursing- and will show everyone else that it is normal.

    Thanks for your thoughts. I think we think along the same lines…especially about ‘moderation’ in activism. and Yes! I’m going to renew Mothering. It’s definitely my favorite parenting mag.

  3. Matia Bryson, breast pump expert

    It is good to hear you have had a successful and satisfying breastfeeding relationship after getting off to a tricky start. I have always wondered if the new breastfeeding icon is so generic it merely looks like a woman holding a baby? No breast to be seen? Then again, breastfeeding should be just that normal and socially accepted. I, too, identify with the desire to help others to breastfeed, and the old-fashioned route is great. I will be featuring this post in my RSS feed “Breastfeeding Daily Tip and News” for the next two weeks. The URL is http://www.babylovesyourmilk.com/breast-feeding/rss.xml.

  4. Rebecca Post author

    I’ve been thinking about the new symbol a little more. While I am all for supporting “breastfeeding friendly” places, the fact is is that breastfeeding is not illegal anywhere- so we shouldn’t need a sign telling us where we CAN nurse.

    I guess I’d like to see the symbol used for more general parenting purposes- changing rooms, family bathrooms, family lounges etc. Why limit such a nice symbol to just breastfeeding mamas?

  5. Jenny R.

    Good topic, Becky, very interesting! What gets me about the whole public breastfeeding thing is that people seem to generally accept sexualizing breasts–they’re everywhere: movies, TV, the superbowl (oops, sorry, that was a “wardrobe malfunction”), low-cut shirts, starlets wearing barely-there dresses and tops…

    If it’s become so (unfortunately) second nature to sexualize breasts, why are people so skittish about breasts doing something so natural and amazing as feeding a child? What do they think women did in the days before bottles? Right, they breastfed. Plus, it’s environmentally friendly as well: no waste of product, no trash, no excess water usage from constant bottle washing (from fromula-fed-only babies–I know people pump and use those bottles, but it’s less bottle usage than formula-feeding only).

    Why people need to be warned that a mother may be nursing when they enter an area is beyond me, but in the age of PC and all if a sign is what it takes for people to understand that nature is at work, so be it. When I have a child I want to try breastfeeding. There’s a good chance I may not be able to because of my surgery, but hey, my breasts have given me enough grief over the years, and if something good can come of them, I’m all for it!


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