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Breastfeeding in the Community: Wherever Moms Are!

No matter what they're doing or where they are, breastfeeding mothers need to express milk every few hours. And their rights are largely protected, at least on paper: most states have enacted laws to protect a woman's right to breastfeed in any place, public or private, as long as she's authorized to be there.

Yet there are many environments where women face challenges trying to find a clean, private space to nurse or pump: in airports, sports venues, churches, shopping malls…the list goes on! While nearly four out of five U.S. mothers initiate breastfeeding, less than half of moms are still breastfeeding at six months postpartum.

The lack of breastfeeding-friendly public places and spaces presents a major barrier for breastfeeding families. Help us tell Congress, airports, and sports venues that they have a role in building a "landscape of breastfeeding support," an actionable step that’s both simple and good for business!

Missed connecting flights, long security lines, aircraft repairs. Overtime, extra innings, jammed parking lots. Whatever the case, at some point we've all had to spend longer than we planned at an airport or a sports venue, with little control over the timing or duration of our stay. It's inconvenient, at best. But for breastfeeding moms, even an "on time" or “normal” experience can mean frantically searching for a place to express breast milk. Unfortunately, few public places have designated lactation spaces, and many moms end up in restrooms or on floors.

A recent study of 100 airports found that while 62% reported being "breastfeeding friendly," only 8% met the minimum requirements for a breastfeeding mother. That's why Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth has introduced the Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act, which would require all large and medium hub airports to provide a private, non-bathroom space in each terminal for mothers to express breast milk. The bill already has received bipartisan support, including several key committee members, and this year represents a unique opportunity with the pending reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Meanwhile, there have been a few recent announcements of nursing accommodations in baseball and football stadiums. The Cincinnati Reds have opened a new deluxe nursing suite, and other teams offer more modest accommodations or have made plans to do so. But these are still outliers: the word needs to be spread and pressure placed on ALL sports venues to "help make breastfeeding easier."

The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding; the Institute of Medicine report, Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention; and the National Prevention Strategy each call for promotion of breastfeeding-friendly communities and environments.

That's why we need YOUR help building support and gaining co-sponsors for the Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act and letting other public places and spaces know that breastfeeding families need their support.

There are THREE easy ways to take action:

  1. Tell Congress to support airport lactation accommodations with the Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act: With our easy action tool, you can e-mail your Representative and Senators with just a few clicks of the mouse! 
  2. Share stories of experiences with airport lactation accommodations and with breastfeeding in public places and spaces: Submissions become part of a bank of real-life stories that we share with legislators to seek co-sponsorship, and quote in action campaigns, blogs, articles, and conversations with policymakers and the media.
  3. Tweet sports venues and airports: Public praise or criticism goes a long way toward encouraging these public spaces to maintain or improve breastfeeding support. Click on the "Tweet Now!" links in the chart below to send customized Twitter messages to sports venues and airports in your state or community. Note: If you don't already have a Twitter account, the links will first walk you through easy account setup steps.

Customized Twitter Message Tool

Directions: Choose from the Twitter messages below to send to local sports venues and airports about their breastfeeding accommodations (or lack thereof). After finding a venue's Twitter handle or airport's Twitter handle (sorted by state), click the "Tweet Now!" link to the right of the message you wish to send. After it opens in a new window, paste the Twitter handle in place of "TwitterHandle". Make sure to keep the ".@" symbols in front of the handle (no spaces between the symbols and handle)! Note: For any sports venues on the list without an active Twitter account, we've substituted handles for team accounts.

Customizable Twitter message
Message 1
(sports venue positive)
.@[TwitterHandle] Your #breastfeeding fans support the team--thanks for supporting and welcoming them too! #NIP Tweet now!

Message 2
(sports venue needs improvement)

.@[TwitterHandle] Support your smallest fans: space for #breastfeeding families to nurse/pump ensures all enjoy the game! #NIP Tweet now!
Message 3
(airport positive)
.@[TwitterHandle] TY for supporting #breastfeeding families w/ clean, private space to nurse/pump! #FAMAct Tweet now!
Message 4
(airport needs improvement)
.@[TwitterHandle] Pls help make #breastfeeding & traveling work: families need clean/private space to nurse/pump! #FAMAct Tweet now!