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Breastfeeding and Society

Have you ever wondered what to say when you see a mother breastfeeding in public? Have you ever wondered what that mother thinks about breastfeeding in public? In our society, breastfeeding seems to be a taboo subject due to society’s fixation on breasts and sexuality, so that the actual point of breastfeeding is lost. Breastfeeding is natural and important to promote a healthier baby, child, mother, and society as a whole. In 2009, studies found that breastfeeding reduced the risk of adult obesity, it improved lung function in children, it reduced the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), it reduced the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, and it reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease. Just think, this was just one year of studies. Many other studies have been done that have promoted the positive impact of the simple act of a mother breastfeeding her child.

Positive strides have been made in California to promote breastfeeding as normal. California State Assembly Bill #157 allows a mother to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and child are authorized to be present. There are some people who think that a breastfeeding mother should feed her child in the bathroom or a room where no one can see them. Would you eat your lunch or dinner in the bathroom? When you go out, do you prefer to eat alone, by yourself, with no other human contact? No, we are a social society. It is unfortunate that anyone thinks that it is ok for a woman to feed her infant in the bathroom. A bottle fed infant would never be relegated to a bathroom to eat. We should question this discrepancy and the attitudes that we have surrounding breastfeeding in public.

In Tuolumne County, there is a publication called the Tuolumne County Breastfeeding Yellow Pages. This booklet contains a guide to breastfeeding friendly business in Tuolumne County. Mothers can look in the booklet and see that they are not only welcome to breastfeed in that business, but accommodating areas to breastfeed are mentioned. If a breastfeeding mother wants to nurse when she is out shopping, she simply looks in her guide and knows that there is a supportive place she can go and nurse and be welcomed to do so. What a wonderful resource.

Assembly Bill # 1025, which is the lactation accommodation law, requires employers in California to accommodate breastfeeding employees to express their breast milk in a private area that is not a bathroom. It seems sad that we have had to actually put in the bill that a bathroom is not an acceptable place to pump breast milk. As mentioned before, you wouldn’t make food that you plan to eat in your bathroom, so why should an innocent infant have to? A positive relationship is developed when employers work with their breastfeeding employees to develop a plan and provide a place for employees to express their breast milk. Studies have shown that breastfeeding infants get sick less often which increases employee availability.

Over the last thirty years, much has been done to help support and encourage breastfeeding as natural. This has an important function on the health of our community as a whole. Breastfeeding support and awareness in our community is expanding. The importance of breastfeeding and the benefits provided for mom and baby have been shown through many different research studies and have been strongly encouraged by the medical community. In Tuolumne County, there are many resources available for breastfeeding women, including, but not limited to: the Tuolumne County Breastfeeding Coalition, The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program, La Leche League, Private Practice Lactation Consultants, the Breastfeeding Yellow Pages, and more.

Please contact the Tuolumne County Breastfeeding Coalition or the Tuolumne County Health Department for more information on breastfeeding resources.

Lisa Hieb-Stock, RD, IBCLC

WIC Program Supervisor

Tuolumne County Health Department

20111 Cedar Rd N

Sonora, CA 95370

(209) 533-7418 phone