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Fighting for Breastfeeding Rights

Babytalk goes to Washington

Have you ever tried to breastfeed in public and gotten dirty looks or nasty comments? I have. Have you ever tried to continue nursing after you went back to work, only to face so many problems that you had to switch to formula? I did (at a different job) with my first child, now 12.

As soon as New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney announced she was re-introducing the Breastfeeding Promotion Act, I got on the phone with her office and asked if I could come down to D.C. to lend support. They welcomed me with open arms and invited me to share the podium at a nurse-in to promote bill's introduction. I was so excited I ran around my office like a lunatic, terrifying my staff!

The proposed legislation would not only protect women's right to breastfeed in public all over the nation, but also offer incentives to businesses to provide nursing-friendly areas for working moms. Right now, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 90 percent of nursing moms who go back to work after their maternity leaves quit breastfeeding when their babies are just three months old.

Once I stopped screaming, I grabbed my art director and beloved pal, Nancy Smith, who is nursing her beautiful 1-year-old daughter Frances: Would they come with me and participate in the nurse-in? Nancy said yes immediately, and before we knew it we were on the plane with the best carry-on in the world: dimply, chubby, blue-eyed Frances, who was giggling and flirting with all the suits.

Thursday, May 10, was brilliantly sunny in Washington, D.C. Carolyn and her staff were set up on a balcony across the street from the Capitol. Pretty soon we were surrounded by about 120 nursing moms. It was a wonderful party, with older tots running all around and babies, babies everywhere  -- in strollers, slings, and carriers  -- nursing, shrieking, and enjoying the day. Carolyn talked about the bill as reporters scribbled and snapped photos.

Then I stood and held up Babytalk's cover from August '06  -- the first photo of a breastfeeding baby on the cover of a national parenting magazine. As you may remember, it caused a sensation: Babytalk got 8,500 loving thank-you letters from moms for that cover image. But the huge cheer that erupted around me now brought tears of joy to my eyes. I vowed that Babytalk would continue to do all it could to fight for nursing moms' rights.

We stayed and talked with lots of moms for an hour after the press conference, then headed home tired but happy (especially Frances, who had been enjoying the all-day buffet that is her mom).

Our upcoming August issue, in honor of National Breastfeeding Month, will once again feature plenty of advice and news for nursing moms.

More resources:

* To learn more about the Breastfeeding Promotion Act, visit Congresswoman Maloney's website

* To let Congress know you support the bill, e-mail your House Representatives

* Read Babytalk's exclusive report from the August 2006 issue: [XREF {http://www.parenting.com/parenting/article/0,19840,1215318,00.html} {"Why Women Don't Nurse Longer."}]

* Are you a nursing mom? Know your rights! Print and pocket [XREF {http://www.parenting.com/parenting/babytalk/article/0,19840,1215347,00.html} {Babytalk's handy Breastfeeding Rights card.}]

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