On Monday, Tulsa, Okla. coffee shop The Double Shot caused an uproar by Tweeting that breastfeeding was now banned on their premises. Too bad breastfeeding is protected by state law. Mothers and advocates led a firestorm of Tweets directed @thedoubleshot explaining the law. After protesting that boobs are gross, “Settle down, folks. We just don’t like walking across the room and seeing your breast. Maybe you could do it in private,” the shop owners finally gave in: “Ok ok, breastfeeding allowed again at the DoubleShot. Hey! Breastfeeding all around. :).” Followed by an attempt to downplay their stupidity: “I was just kidding anyway. Didn’t expect that blow up. Sorry to get you guys riled up.”
The Double Shot picked the wrong week to ban breastfeeding. From August 1 through 7, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) is encouraging natural nutrition for babies around the globe in honor of World Breastfeeding Week.
The benefits of breastfeeding are well documented and include better health for babies and mothers, and less impact on the environment. And new pluses are constantly emerging: Today’s New York Times reports that breastfeeding aids infants’ digestion by coating their stomachs with helpful bacteria.
However, breastfeeding continues to cause squeamishness among some business owners, with various establishments banning the practice (ahem, Johnny Rockets). Last year employees at a Michigan Target called the cops on a breastfeeding mom.
To stop dumb moves like Double Shot’s ban, WABA is trying to change breastfeeding’s bad rap by promoting 10 steps to successful breastfeeding [PDF] to help facilities providing maternity services and care for newborn infants to reach the Millennium Development Goals of reducing child mortality and improving maternal health:
- Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
- Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within a half-hour of birth.
- Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they should be separated from their infants.
- Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk unless medically indicated.
- Practice rooming-in – allow mothers and infants to remain together – 24 hours a day.
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
- Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants.
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.
Above: The International Breastfeeding Symbol. Photo public domain.