infant breastfeeding

Listen up, world! Breastfeeding would be a whole lot easier with more support

We’ve said it before: Breastfeeding does not get the respect it deserves. Every month, there’s a brand-new story about a mom being shamed for nursing in public or a woman being hassled for carrying breast milk through airport security. In July, it finally became legal to breastfeed in public in all 50 states. But with one step forward, there’s another step back: U.S. officials at the United Nations World Health Assembly pushed back on a resolution that promoted breastfeeding, despite scientific research that proves the broad-reaching benefits of a mother’s milk.

Breastfeeding isn’t always easy, so why does it have to be made harder by outdated laws, restrictive processes, tone-deaf policies and misinformed comments? What new moms really need is support from their families and the greater community, including employers, politicians and the general public. Here are four ways we can better support breastfeeding moms and their babies:

1. Education

Let’s start here: Breasts are made to feed babies, and babies deserve to eat in clean, comfortable spaces. After all, we don’t force adults to eat under a cover or in the bathroom. There are too many instances in which a new mom receives nasty looks for breastfeeding in public. The general public needs to be better educated on the importance of breastfeeding. Not only does it provide numerous health benefits for both moms and babies, but it also fosters a strong emotional connection. If moms receive support from their families and communities, they have a better chance of being successful and continuing to breastfeed long term, as well as a more confident, positive mindset when issues eventually pop up.

2. Access to an IBCLC

Breastfeeding is not always going to go smoothly. There will be bumps along the way, and that is 100% normal. If you’re struggling with latching, nipple soreness or other breastfeeding issues, or if have questions about pumping, speak a professional who can help: an international board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC). The team at Ashland Women’s Health can connect you with experienced IBCLCs through The Lactation Network who can provide encouragement all throughout your breastfeeding journey.

3. Reasonable Accommodations

No mom wants to pump in a dingy bathroom. Moms deserve reasonable accommodations in the workplace and in large public places, such as airports, travel centers, malls and stadiums. This could include a private space to pump (that isn’t a bathroom), a mother’s room or breastfeeding pods. Moms also need breaks to pump during a busy workday, or at the very least, to not be penalized or judged for doing so. The issue here speaks to a lack of education and understanding from management-level decision makers: Moms need to pump for their babies and for their own health. When a mom is forced to skip a feeding or pumping session, it can affect her milk supply and lead to engorgement, clogged ducts or even mastitis. Babies need a healthy mom and plenty of breast milk to grow and thrive.

4. Strength in Numbers

No mom wants to feel like they are going it alone. Speaking up for what you deserve is hard, especially in the face of long-time policies and general lack of education. The more breastfeeding moms advocate for one another, the better. Band together with other breastfeeding moms for reasonable accommodations in the workplace. Support organizations that promote breastfeeding and share personal stories with fellow moms. Together, by making our voices heard, we can change the conversation surrounding breastfeeding and inspire real change.

As moms ourselves, Ashland Women’s Health knows that breastfeeding isn’t always easy and that new moms often don’t have the support they need. We work to change that by making the process to receive a free insurance-covered breast pump easy, connecting moms to experienced IBCLCs and sharing our real-life stories and tips. We believe in the benefits of breastfeeding and the power of moms.