Breastfeeding Action Guide


Photo of Coral Charles-Dunne, 91, by Nick Wilkinson

Do you ever wonder what you can do to protect breastfeeding? Are you or do you want to become a breastfeeding advocate? Whether it’s breastfeeding in public, breastfeeding and working, breastfeeding and jury duty, pumping during a medical licensing exam, or the distribution of formula samples to new mothers in hospitals, breastfeeding is the civil rights issue of our time. What can you do?

Write a letter. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Find out the email of the parenting/family editor and ask if you can write an op-ed piece on one of the issues above. Email the family reporter to suggest an article on one of these topics.

Write your Representatives. Ask your US senators and representatives to sign on to the Breastfeeding Promotion Act. Research your state breastfeeding laws. Do you have laws protecting breastfeeding in public and  breastfeeding in the workplace? Do they have enforcement clauses? Ask your state senators and representatives to create or improve your laws and to introduce a bill to ban formula samples in health-care facilities in your state.

Join or Start a Breastfeeding Coalition. Most breastfeeding organizations exist to provide information and support rather than to organize social actions. Breastfeeding coalitions in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Oregon, however, have organized to fight hospital formula samples.

Start a Community Action Project. Do some research to determine what the most pressing breastfeeding issue is facing your community. For example, contact your local hospital and ask if they distribute formula samples to new mothers. Ban the Bags offers a complete Ban the Bags Tool Kit.

Organize a Social Action. Consider social action. Nurse-ins have been overused as a tactic and are not as effective as they once where. Look for other, more unique actions, such as a flash mob, a viral campaign or something funny like the Knitted Bosom Project.

Also, sometimes the threat of a demonstration can be as effective as a demonstration. A hospital might reconsider their practice of selling customer names if faced with the possibility of a demonstration, something clearly bad for business.

Timing. Time your letters or actions sensitively. For example, write letters when an issue is in the news. Plan demonstrations for a time when your state legislature or the US Congress is in session.

Peggy O’Mara  (101 Posts)

Peggy O’Mara founded in 1995 and is currently its editor-in chief. She was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine from 1980 to 2011. The author of Having a Baby Naturally; Natural Family Living; The Way Back Home; and A Quiet Place, Peggy has lectured and conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League International, and Bioneers. She is the mother of four.

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