The International Breastfeeding Symbol
Suggestions, Guidelines and Resources for Activism
What is the purpose of the International Breastfeeding Symbol?
- To increase public awareness of breastfeeding
- To designate breastfeeding and family friendly facilities in public.
- To provide an alternative to the use of the image of a baby bottle
Where can the symbol be used?
- In large public places where people stay for extended periods of time. In airports, malls, amusement parks, conferences, convention halls, or expos, for example, to designate a breastfeeding friendly room.
- In professional offices, retail stores or restaurants to designate the establishment as breastfeeding friendly.
- In businesses, to designate a lactation room.
Does the existence of the symbol mean that breastfeeding should be hidden?
No, of course, breastfeeding should not be hidden. Breastfeeding does not require a special place and is appropriate—as the Canadian slogan says—"anytime, anywhere." The purpose of the symbol is not to segregate breastfeeding, but to help integrate it into society by better accommodating it in public.
For example, sometimes there are no chairs in public, sometimes nowhere to change the baby, or for the mother separated from her baby, nowhere to plug in an electric breast pump. Mothers welcome quiet, private places in public where they can collect themselves and their children. The symbol could designate these kinds of places.
If the symbol is used to designate a family or breastfeeding friendly room in a public setting, what should that room have?
- A comfortable chair
- An electric plug for a breast pump
- A changing table
How was the International Breastfeeding Symbol created?
It was created as the result of a contest held by Mothering magazine and mothering.com in 2006. More than 500 entries were received from both the design and breastfeeding communities.
How was the final design chosen?
The final design was selected based on the following criteria:
- Public voting on mothering.com
- Votes from breastfeeding organizations
- Ease of reproduction
Who designed the International Breastfeeding Symbol?
Matt Daigle of Sioux Falls, South Dakota designed the winning symbol. Matt is a stay-at-home dad, freelance graphic designer, and cartoonist. Matt and his wife, Kay, are the parents of Hayden.
Who can use the International Breastfeeding Symbol?
Anyone can use the symbol. It is available copyright free. Matt has signed it over to the Public Domain.
How can I get a copy of the symbol?
Are there any specifications for the use of the symbol?
Yes, the symbol is meant to be compatible with the Symbol Signs created by US Department of Transportation and the American Institute of Graphic Artists (AIGA).
In order for it to be universally recognizable, the International Breastfeeding Symbol must have a consistent visual identity. In public places, we recommend using CYMK (188.8.131.52), which is closest to Pantone 285.
How has the symbol been used?
- To designate breastfeeding friendly and family friendly rooms at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
- By the Friends of Natural Mothering, Midwife Tokyo Branch and Japan Birthing Association at the 2007 Earth Day celebration in Tokyo, Japan.
- To designate a breastfeeding room in a Hong Kong shopping mall.
- To identify the 800 lactivists who protested at more than 40 Delta airline counters all over the US in November and December of 2006.
- Here are more examples of the symbol in use.
How can the symbol be used for political action?
- To work for legislation regarding breastfeeding in public.
- To work for legislation regarding breastfeeding in the workplace.
- To help employers implement breastfeeding in the workplace legislation
- To work for legislation to ban formula sample bags in hospitals
- To designate breastfeeding friendly places in the community
- To identify participants at a demonstration or Nurse-In
Links and informational resources for Lactivism
- Downloadable a PDF of Your Handy Pocket Guide to Breastfeeding in Public
- The risks of not breastfeeding are significant. The 2005 Progress Report on Breastfeeding concluded that increasing the incidence of exclusive breastfeeding in the US would reduce under-five mortality by 19%.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding for at least one year. Their statement, Breastfeeding and Use of Human Milk was updated in 2005.
- As stated in Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding for two years.
- The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes establishes guidelines for protecting breastfeeding from the adverse effects of formula advertising.
- The Healthy People 2010 goals of the US Department of Health and Human Services call for 75% breastfeeding initiation, 50% breastfeeding at six months and 25% on one year.
- Health and Human Services Blueprint on Breastfeeding
- A survey conducted by the National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign showed that 69% of men are comfortable seeing a baby being breastfed in public.
- Editorials by Peggy O'Mara, editor and publisher of Mothering, on the politics of breastfeeding and the breastfeeding symbol:
- Major Health Professional Organizations' Policies and Positions on Breastfeeding Promotion
- In 2003 breastfeeding initiation rates in the US reached 66%, down four percentage points from the all-time high in 2002 of 70.1%.
- World Breastfeeding Statistics. In 2003, with 86 countries reporting, the US was among only seven countries with breastfeeding initiation rates lower than 85%. 70 of the 86 countries have breastfeeding initiation rates of over 90%.
- Summary of State Breastfeeding Laws and Related Issues
- Lactation and the Law by Jake Ayeh Marcus, member of the Legal Advisory Council of La Leche League Legal International. (July/August 2007)
- Mothering.com Breastfeeding and Lactivism Sections
- For ongoing discussions about lactivism, plans for political action and the politics of breastfeeding, join our discussions in our Lactivism forum.