Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: "Lactation Locations" - What's wrong with this picture?


  1. There was once a sign on the "cry room" at our church that said that there was a nursery in back that nursing mothers could use. It bothered me for the same reason this sign would. It implies that there's something wrong with nursing places other than "designated" areas.

    The sign at church is gone now : )

  2. Morgan, that's it exactly. It implies that these are the ONLY acceptable places for women to nurse, when their right to do anywhere is, in fact, protected by law.

    This was taken at Central Connecticut State University, by the way.

  3. Um....I give up. Gawd, I miss my coffee-guzzling days when I actually had half a brain before 1pm! Anyway, probably what Morgan said? The booby feeding should be allowed any-old-where?

    I'm actually looking forward to after my little one is born, which should hopefully happen any minute now. I'm going to try to breastfeed, and I'll be curious to know logistically how that works out in public places: will I run into signs like this? Will it cramp my style? Will I have a hard time finding "appropriate" places to feed when it needs to get done?

    I could see it becoming an annoyance to have to find "designated spaces." We'll find out for sure soon, though.

  4. First, congrats, KuKd!! Very exciting times lie ahead!

    Try not to stress about the NIP issue. Check the link in my previous comment so you know exactly what the laws are in your own state, and I recommend carrying a copy of the statute in your purse, just in case you get any flak (I've never gotten any). You do NOT have to find a "designated space", I promise you.

  5. A friend of mine on Facebook commented: "I don't think that is the intent. Isn't meant for the student/faculty population who are pumping? The classroom isn't for children in most cases, but moms still need to pump. I like the shows the warmth of motherhood instead of a pump"

    And I replied (with embellishment here):

    Right, I think it's possible that it IS intended for faculty or students who are pumping while away from their kids - and in this case, it's very much to be applauded. More workplaces need to be doing this! My point is that the sign could be interpreted to suggest that there are places where women need to go to simply nurse - which sadly does continue to happen in some areas despite laws protecting breastfeeding anywhere as needed. What a pain in the ass for a new mom who is out with a hungry baby and thinks she has to run around and find one of these designated private areas to nurse, when it's totally unnecessary.

    I hope that makes sense. I'm definitely ALL for making pumping as convenient as possible! That is a major lactivist action item, fer sher. If they just mentioned the word "pump", like, *somewhere* on the poster, that would be enough to clarify the intention. I can't figure out why they wouldn't just say so, to avoid any such confusion. Sheesh.

    Being me, I would love it if they not only mentioned pumping but also clarified that nursing was fine anywhere on campus (since legally, it absolutely is). but I know I can't have everything. *pouts a little* Just the word "pump" or "pumping" being included, if this is their intention. Perhaps they just love the alliterative appeal of "Lactation Location", and thought "Pumping Station", or some such, lacked poetry, but really now, they're college people! I'm sure they could come up with something.

  6. This is something that I've been wondering about lately. I've never been told to go elsewhere to nurse but I have been offered privacy which I sometimes accept and sometimes politely decline. It's not clear what this sign is about. I would read it as "if you want to feed your baby in peace and privacy you can do so at these locations" rather than "you must feed your baby in the designated areas". Maybe I'm just oblivious. I think more breastfeeding women probably should be.

  7. Someone near that campus should organize a breastfeed-in around this sign.

  8. I think that's true, Hester, it is very subjective. Now that I think of it, I should amend my comment to KuKd above. I haven't felt that I've gotten flak, but I HAVE, like you, been offered a private space and declined. And once, on a plane, a man gave me a blanket, and I said "thanks!" and immediately used it as a cushion for her head, as I had no pillow. Only later did I realize, "Ohhhh, he probably meant for me to cover up. Ah well, too bad for him!"

    Point being, in both the plane incident and the few instances I've been offered a private place, their actions actually could be interpreted as flak. I CHOSE not to interpret them that way. I suppose it's due in large part to my commitment to help normalize breastfeeding; maybe I've managed to internalize that enough that what might be perceived as offense or challenge just rolls off my back. (Still, KuKd, even given those stories, no one has actually been mean or belligerent. On the contrary, I've had some very sweet moments from unexpected sources at times.)

    ANYWAY, I'm meandering now, but the ambiguousness that Hester brings up is my main problem here - I think their intentions ARE good if the point is to provide pumping stations for employees and students. Absofrigginlutely. But I worry, not just about the impression that this makes on mothers who aren't sure what this means regarding nursing in public, but also what message this sends to non-mothers, to future mothers.

    This pic was sent to me by a friend who is not a mother, but saw this sign and wondered whether it was suggesting that women could only nurse in certain places. I think there's a possibility that many college-aged women like her will see this and, as motherhood isn't yet on their radar and thus they might not reason it through, as we're doing - rather than concluding "Oh, I see, this is for pumping, cool", instead, they are imprinted with the idea that nursing is only acceptable in private, designated, secreted-away areas.

    It's not much of a stretch to think that then, in the future, when deciding to breastfeed or not, the thought of what a hassle it would be to have to find 'Lactation Locations' whenever they're out and about could play a role in their choice. And that would be a real shame.

  9. That's definitely a concern, that this sign may be well intended but still create the wrong impression. It's why those of us who are comfortable nursing in public should be doing so, so that there will be no question that the "lactation locations" are optional.

  10. Soooo... you're not even allowed to *lactate* unless you're at a "Lactation Station."

    Doesn't matter what their intent was - only a dullard would have phrased it that way.

    Acceptable alternative?

    "If you need to pump breastmilk or desire a private location to feed your baby, you can go here..."


  11. These types of things ALWAYS piss me off. Women should not be told WHERE they can nurse - they can freaking nurse anywhere they want. MAYBE it's nice to set up a room for those who need a break, or a quiet space, or a place to sit, but to tell them there are "designated" places to nurse is just flat out despicable.

    I called this out last year about Mothering Magazine showing pictures of places the international breastfeeding symbol was being used. That symbol is supposed to say "breastfeeding welcome here" but really the places they showed it being used were more "breastfeeding goes here and ONLY here so don't you do it anywhere else in our establishment" kind of pictures. Totally missed the point. Anyway, I complained about it, people reposted it, and the next thing I know, Mothering Mag quietly removed the whole section from their site.

    She shoots, she scores! :)

  12. I agree with everything here, of course, but I keep giggling at the phrase itself - "Lactation Location." Like you aren't constantly lactating, you just go to the designated spot to turn on the faucet and then turn it off again. Silly me, I thought a lactating mama was lactating at all times, whether presently feeding her child or not!

  13. I couldn't stand it so I did a little more research. I *get* (especially now) that they're trying to do a good thing for their employees. Like you, Anne, I think it's fantastic they even provide fridges for milk storage and comfy chairs. But were I to see that sign without knowing the following, I'd think they were trying to tell me where to breastfeed. They are simply complying with the law (and it's a good law) but it comes off as the opposite.

    Here's the official word from CCSU's website:

    Public Act No. 01-182, An Act Concerning Breastfeeding in the Workplace, requires that employers make reasonable efforts to provide "lactation rooms" with privacy for employees.
    To that end, the following locations on campus have been identified for this purpose: the Women's Center located in the Student Center; and
    the second floor faculty lavatory in DiLoreto Hall.
    Small refrigerators and comfortable chairs have been placed in these areas. We have attempted to provide as much privacy as possible.

    Better name:

    Pump N' Store
    Pump N' Chill
    Pump In Peace



  14. UUuugh. Ok, first: I get where you're coming from and 1-milliongajillion % agree that moms shouldn't be told where they can and can't nurse.

    That said...

    The intent here (to me, anyway) is clearly on our side: being a lactating-mom friendly place by providing them their own spaces? A+! Because really, what mom wants to pump in front of other people? This is obviously a courtesy thing, not a segregation thing.

    I think posting like this is in the category of what gives lactivists a bad rep. It's nowhere close to purely semantic, but it's on that side of the spectrum for me.

    Another reason is that this place is obviously at least TRYING, so posting the "what's wrong with this picture" type stuff flies in the face of our cause. Undercutting the ones that are moving in the right direction is undercutting the cause as a whole. We need to give credit where it's due and encourage it when we see those first baby steps, not knock their feet out from under them for not doing it exactly as we might imagine they should.

    They didn't have pictures of a bottle or a pump. They're obviously a lactating-mom friendly place if they've taken the bottom-line-impacting step of providing them a variety of places to nurse or pump.

    So really, what's this about? Language? How else should they get their message across? For me, "If you need to pump breastmilk or desire a private location to feed your baby, you can go here..." sounds cumbersome, not to mention sterile and unfriendly. I love that people on that campus will see the word 'lactation,' because infusing the language of breastfeeding into the common vernacular goes hand-in-hand with all our other efforts to normalize it. I actually like the language they used!

    I think the mom and baby are the perfect image there: that dyad encompasses all the moms and all the babies, regardless of whether mom is there to nurse at breast or to pump, or just to find a quiet space to give a bottle. It's supportive of all mothers, which is another thing I encourage and am happy to see (both as a mom, and as a lactivist).

    Whether they're executing it perfectly or not, this is, at the very least, the beginning of a motherhood- and lactation-friendly place! THIS is when we say "SCORE!!!"

    The comment about having the section of the Mothering Mag site taken down bothered me, too, for most of the same reasons. We've got to give these people a break! They are moving in the right direction, even if they aren't doing it 100% to our standards. I say that anywhere the internat'l sign for breastfeeding exists is one less place where a picture of a bottle is posted, so kudos! Let's get one foot moving in front of the other in the right direction for now and work out the details as we go.

    I hate to disagree here, but this just seems really backwards to me. I see something worthy of commendation (and I know you do too, at the heart of it!). I just don't like the bandwagon-y, "OMG can you BELIEVE they did this," when really...they did something good! I absolutely think that we should be discussing the semantics and appropriateness of the various signs and language used to designate areas for moms; I just think we need to do it with a much more positive and encouraging tone if we're going to continue to see forward progress. I'm not saying we need to paint sunshine and rainbows over the topic, but we need to be careful to treat others as we'd like to be treated (if we were the ignorant, bumbling administrator of these signs, for instance, at least trying to do right by moms). I also loathe seeing the adamant, inflexible, uncompromising [sometimes bitchy] lactivist profile propagated in any way, since most of us aren't really like that. (Not at all implying that this post in particular has any of those tones! Only mentioning it in the context of the larger problem.)

  15. Besides what others have said....

    What's wrong with the picture is that the baby isn't actually breastfeeding in the picture. If you're going to have a poster advertising quiet places to nurse (which I was more than happy to find once we hit distractable nurser stage) then have a picture of the baby breastfeeding instead of being held at arms length from the mom.

  16. Yo, thanks to Cathy for sussing out that info. You go CCSU, with your small refrigerators and comfortable chairs! (Still, just a tiny bit more clarity in the posters plz.)

  17. Boy howdy, Amy, if you didn't like this, you're going to HATE the post I've been tinkering with that responds to that recent Time article which extols the benefits of EPing. ;O)

    Really, I know that you and are very much in agreement, very much simpatico, for the most part - that's probably an understatement. I DO get what you're saying, I really do. And I definitely commend them for their intent, as I said with the "I think their intentions ARE good if the point is to provide pumping stations for employees and students. Absofrigginlutely," and I know you've acknowledged my acknowledgment. (Whew, what a tedious sentence. But you catch my drift.)

    My primary concern, to be more clear about it, is that as the sign stands, it can be (and was, as my friend is proof) misunderstood as a place that designates approved areas for *breastfeeding*. If that pitches us into the realm of dickering over semantics, well, I can see why it comes off that way, but one mention of "pump" or "pumping" is all I was really making a case for. Maybe I went too far when I then waxed dreamy about how nice it would be to also have something to the effect of " . . . and you're welcome to nurse wherever you like, of course" tacked on to it, and I should have been much clearer myself. Touche.

    As to whether I should have brought it up in the first place - the fact that we are in agreement about your first statement is the bottom line for me, and I hope I've made that a little more coherent now. But as to what lactivists should and should not speak out about - it gets tricky, doesn't it? Again, I DO get where you're coming from, and I struggle with these things myself quite a bit. In my previous post on the film "Away We Go" I wrote about similar dynamics within the whole attachment parenting oeuvre in general, and the ensuing discussion brought me back to the core principle, first taught to me in yoga, of meeting people where they're at. I think that applies here as well.

    Choosing our battles is an ongoing process, for sure, and it's pretty much inevitable that different battles are going to be chosen by different individuals at times. Case in point: not long ago on MDC, the issue of Medela's WHO violations was brought up. There was a large faction who felt that such nitpicking was detrimental to lactivism as a whole; that Medela was essentially doing good by promoting the 'breast is best' message and increasing babies' access to breastmilk instead of formula, and that good intention outweighed any minor infractions in their marketing and advertising practices; and that lactivists acting like everything has to be done perfectly and complaining when everyone doesn't do things exactly their way is exactly the kind of thing that gives lactivists a bad name.

    These two situations are not perfectly analogous at all, and I'm not trying to compare them in anything beyond the similar concerns about criticisms of each and how they affect the broader context of the 'movement'.

    You say here: "I absolutely think that we should be discussing the semantics and appropriateness of the various signs and language used to designate areas for moms; I just think we need to do it with a much more positive and encouraging tone if we're going to continue to see forward progress."

    I can agree with this, for sure, and can also take on the challenge to be more mindful of a positive tone. Things like Wordless Wednesday do bring out my inner snarkmeister, and while that's always tempting, I'll be thinking twice in the future. I may have to can the whole post on EPing, in fact - not that it was snarky in tone (not at all, actually), but I have to make sure it's in the spirit of meeting women where they're at, and I'm not sure it's quite there.

    Thanks for the Lactivist Internal Affairs Tete a Tete. :O)

  18. Thanks for taking the point. :) I agree that the sign could've been done better, by the way. Just wanted to make sure that's clear, too.

    I love the concept of "meeting people where they're at." I have a unique POV here - I once was the ignorant and uninformed person when it came to breastfeeding. My concern is simply that someone who had something to do with putting these posters up and creating the areas for moms will see something like this, and say "to hell with it, then, I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't." As long as our discourse isn't leading to that kind of backwards progress, then we should discuss away!

    I won't even touch that Medela thing, because anyone who thinks it's nitpicking to discuss Medela's WHO Code violations can't possible have all the facts. It's not just marketing infractions, and they certainly don't promote "breast is best," they promote "bottle - preferably full of breastmilk pumped by our $300 single-user cash cow pump - is best." Now THAT is a fight we should be having, and publicly.


    Anyway, I agree that we agree. I knew we probably did from the outset, I just had to bring this up as a caution.

    As for the Time piece [GAG-VOMIT-CHOKE], it was purely awful and the writer clearly didn't have a particularly firm grasp of the subject matter. Frankly, it read like a Medela advertorial. I wouldn't be surprised in the least to find out that Medela had a hand in it, actually. We probably have the same problems with that article, too. =P I have much less of a problem with taking on the battles with national forces, rather than individual instances where the intentions are good. That Time article deserves some snark (not directed at moms who pump, obviously, but just at what a pile of steaming crap it was!)

  19. *waves*

    Well, I thort it was nice. I mean, not *every* breastfeeding woman in this day and age feels comfortable NIP... Some use Hooter Hiders... Some still hide in bathroom stalls, some don't feed outside the house, or even pump, causing them to lose milk supply (silly me, I know all this SOMEHOW - let's say I've come a long way).

    It's probably an oasis of comfort for mamas like that. Or pumping moms. I agree it could perpetuate the "breastfeeding is best done in private" mentality, but more likely, it will give real, shy mamas a place to nurse or express milk, AND feel like they are doing the "right" thing. Now at this point in my growth as a mama, I would just NIP wherever. But that is now, and not in the days of hiding facing in a corner in the library, and wincing because I thought "everyone could hear my baby swallowing".

    Now what's wrong with the picture, the bebeh isn't breastfeeding, duh...

    I love your blog by the way :D

  20. Just found your it.

    I had a waiter today suggest that I bf in the bathroom. I asked if it had a "mother's lounge," and he said no, just a stall. I then asked if he'd like to eat his lunch next to a toilet.