Finding Breastfeeding Support: From Airports to Football Stadiums
Posted January 04, 2017 by Sonya Spillmann, RN
|Giving moms spaces to breastfeed in public helps support their health decisions.
While there are statewide initiatives to improve breastfeeding support for new moms, community support is also key to their comfort and success. Hospitals and groups like Women, Infant and Children (WIC) help foster that kind of support, and other organizations are starting to fill in gaps to ensure that moms have the resources they need to breastfeed or pump on demand.
New movements are helping families do just that: Moms Pump Here shows moms where they can feed or pump, and Tiger Babies provides support during college football games. These are just two examples of what communities can do to help mothers who chose to breastfeed.
Moms Pump Here
One barrier to breastfeeding, especially for working mothers, is access to safe, clean and private facilities to pump. “The standard is to give your baby breastmilk. So as a working mom, you struggle with wanting to breastfeed while juggling all your other demands,” says Priya Nembhard, co-founder of Moms Pump Here
, a health and wellness company working to promote breastfeeding.
In 2012, Kim Harrison called Nembhard, a longtime friend, after attending a conference in New York City where she had to pump in a busy, dirty public restroom. Nembhard, a mother of three and serial entrepreneur, had a similar experience and they realized how many other working mothers must struggle in this situation, too.
Moms Pump Here began as a website to identify locations a mother can use to pump or breastfeed. “Safety is our number one priority, so we started by identifying universities and a few other locations on the website, then we launched the app in 2015, and that’s when it really took off,” Nembhard says. “Initially, we focused on the working pumping mother, and breastfeeding was included organically.”
Anyone can identify a location, leave a review, or even mark it as being not breastfeeding friendly. “The app is community driven. Moms, dads and sites themselves can submit locations to the website and, with our second version, directly into the app,” says Nembhard. Moms Pump Here continually monitors and vets new sites, adding 2 to 5 locations to the database daily.
“Part of what we do is providing information and part of it is advocacy,” says Nembhard, who mentions how “non-breastfeeding friendly” sites often contact Moms Pump Here and offer a first aid station or a customer service location as an option for breastfeeding mothers. Simply put, Nembhard wants organizations to think, “If you’re not going to prepare a meal in a bathroom, why should a nursing mom have to?”
At present, the website has thousands of visitors a day and the app has over 20 thousand downloads offering access to nearly 5,000 safe, clean breastfeeding and pumping locations in over 7 countries, from Denmark to Japan. Sites include retail stores like Babies R Us, stadiums, doctor’s offices, parks and airports.
Tiger Babies Breastfeeding Support Tent
In the fall of 2014, it came to the attention of two professors in the School of Nursing at Auburn University that new mothers had concerns about breastfeeding before and during football games.
The university has one of the most successful football programs in the country and a large following to match – Auburn’s home stadium frequently fills all 87,451 of its seats. Laurie Harris RN, MSN, an assistant clinical professor at Auburn University School of Nursing, commented, “We wanted an avenue to promote breastfeeding that would also contribute to the family friendly game day environment that the university was striving for.”
Harris and Ann Lambert, RN, MSN, CRNP, who’s also an assistant clinical professor, explain the barriers for continued breastfeeding come from a lack of support from healthcare providers, family, community and work environments, as well as a fear and stigma of breastfeeding in public.
“We found many mothers were going to their car or struggled to find privacy to breastfeed,” says Lambert, after conducting a survey of breastfeeding mothers at AU’s athletic events. Seeing the need, wanting to promote community awareness of breastfeeding, and desiring to change the attitude about public breastfeeding, they came up with the idea for the Tiger Babies Breastfeeding Support Tent.
Tiger Babies Breastfeeding Support Tent debuted in the fall of 2015 at two of Auburn’s home football games. This year, the Tiger Babies tent is set up outside of the stadium for three hours before every home game. It’s equipped with rockers, changing tables, hand sanitizer and two private areas. The tent is staffed by a faculty member and nursing students who receive clinical hours for their participation. The staff also collects some background information, such as the mothers’ perceptions and experiences with breastfeeding—all in an effort to support moms in the short term and offer better services in the future. With the cooperation of the Auburn Athletic Department and the local hospitals, four First Aid stations inside the stadium are designated as breastfeeding friendly places during the game.
Through Facebook, news coverage, community posters and game day flyers, word is getting out. Approximately 50 mothers use the Tiger Babies tent at each game. Harris and Lambert realize the benefit to their community can extend to even bigger circles. Lambert notes, “We would love for other universities or organizations to model a similar project to serve women and families, wherever they live.”
“We’ve actually had several SEC schools reach out to us,” says Harris. One of AU’s opposing team’s heard about Tiger Babies through Facebook and messaged them to ask if it was okay to use the tent. “We told them, “Absolutely!’”
Which goes to show, when it comes to promoting breastfeeding and supporting a new mother and her family, we’re all on the same team.