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Thank You for Nursing in Public!

Allyson Wessells, Columbus, Ohio

At one point, a mother left “business” cards at our La Leche League meeting, each simply stating:

“Thank you for nursing in public. You make it easier for other mommies to do the same. You are setting an amazing example!”

These cards sat stacked in a box meeting after meeting. One day, I decided to take several with a thought of passing them on as I saw the opportunity. I put a few in my car, a couple in my wallet, and began quietly handing them out when I saw mothers breastfeeding, whether at a restaurant, airport, or park, among other places. Eventually, I found myself reaching for them often enough that my four- and nine-year-old daughters caught on and became eager to gift a card to mothers and babies. Their eyes are now sharper than mine at spotting this most natural expression of love and nourishment!

I like to think that my daughters know just what is at stake for these couples: amazing food security, emotional attachment, warmth, and comfort all in one that can only be sustained by demand regardless of location. One offsetting glance and a new mother may feel defeated for even trying to get out of the house to enjoy some company and a change of scenery. A cascade of missed feedings, milk supply changes, and a baby that struggles to gain weight can ensue as this new couple navigates much needed social outings without  confidence in breastfeeding around others. Counter this with one smile and a statement of assurance and a mother may feel renewed trust in her body and its life-giving energy. Feeding on cue becomes easier, milk production is sustained, and baby thrives wherever life takes them from day to day!

I just ordered a new batch of cards and plan to pass them on not only to mothers I see nursing in public, but to all the mothers I now see as an IBCLC. While I encourage everyone I work with to attend La Leche League meetings for so many reasons, I often emphasize the confidence with breastfeeding around others that is grown at meetings. Some go on to attend meetings for several months. Others choose to pass the cards to others. Hopefully all feel more empowered to share their amazing example that can help families grow whether at home or beyond.

One of the benefits of breastfeeding is being able to provide a baby with nutrition any time and anywhere. The more we can support those we see in public realizing this benefit, the more we can gift it on to others!