Barriers to Breastfeeding
Overcoming the Cultural Obstacles to Breastfeeding
4. Head for cover. Cover-ups are a great antidote to modesty! Make good use of a shawl or sling and most people won't even realize your baby is nursing. "Slings have so much fabric that you can walk through a mall and breastfeed at the same time and nobody will even know," Lebbing says. Other tips from the nursing-in-pubic trenches: Always wear two-piece outfits (doing so makes for easier access), and practice using your shawl or sling at home before trying the cover-up technique at a restaurant.
If you're looking for a great sling, try the New Native Baby Carrier (newnativebaby.com) or the Maya Wrap (mayawrap.com).
5. Be creative at work. Unfortunately, only 11 states have laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace: California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. So what can you do if you're a pumping mom who doesn't live in one of these states and your employer isn't exactly accommodating?
"If you get a break, pump anyplace you can," suggests Lebbing. "Plug your breast pump into the cigarette lighter in your car, if you need to." Or, if your pump doesn't have such an adapter, use the battery mode (many models offer this feature). If you have access to a private stall in the bathroom--not an ideal spot, hygienically speaking--make sure the area is as clean as possible before getting down to business. (Antibacterial wipes come in handy here.)
Once you're done pumping, be sure to wash the parts with soap and water; or try Medela's Quick Clean Breastpump & Accessory Wipes (medela.com). Then store the milk in a refrigerator or cooler with ice packs.
If you don't get breaks, you may not be able to pump and store your milk, but you'll need to relieve the pressure in your breasts every time you go to the bathroom. You can hand-express for a few minutes, or try a hand-held pump such as the Avent Isis (aventamerica.com) or the Medela Harmony (medela.com).
Some working moms also swear by the hands-free Whisper Wear pump, which is battery-operated and small enough that you can wear it inside your bra--while pumping! "You can even pump while you're delivering the mail," says Lebbing. (For information, visit whisperwear.com.)
6. Avoid the parent trap. How do you respond when your less-than-supportive mom says, "You were formula-fed, and you're fine"? Obviously, she isn't well-versed on the health benefits of breastfeeding--or she probably wouldn't be objecting. "Little by little, share information with her," suggests Lebbing. "Say, 'Let's look at the research,' and be respectful about it."
Many women who had children in the '50s and '60s didn't breastfeed, so your choice to nurse may seem strange to your mother or grandmother. Explain that our generation is lucky: We have so much more information about public-health issues than they did--breastfeeding, smoking and tanning, to name a few. Then communicate some of the positive health benefits of breastfeeding for both you and the baby. Your mom just may come around and applaud your choice. If she doesn't, you may just have to agree to disagree.
7. Do your homework. Accessible, easy-to-digest information will arm you with knowledge--and, as you know, knowledge gives you power. Take a look at the following websites and books:
• The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services breastfeeding site offers information on why breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby. womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding.
• Rima D. Apple's book Mothers and Medicine: A Social History of Infant Feeding, 1890-1950 (University of Wisconsin Press) analyzes the science, medicine and industry that helped trigger the shift from breastfeeding to formula in the mid 20th century.
• The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers, Revised and Updated, by Jack Newman, M.D., and Teresa Pitman (Three Rivers Press), is an all-around great resource for nursing moms.