In a wash of pink, over 120 lactation professionals, breastfeeding mothers, babies and family members sat in unity at the “Bronx Breastfeeding Coalition Night with the NY Yankees” in order to normalize breastfeeding during World Breastfeeding Week. Participants wore shirts that read “The Bronx Breastfeeds” and babies and young children wore “I breastfed at Yankee Stadium” t-shirts. They sported vendor buttons listing refreshments and snack prices followed by “Breastfeeding-Priceless.”
As Yankee fans cheered, “Let’s Go!”, the breastfeeding crew cried, “Breastfeed!”
“It was a hoot,” Union Institute and University Maternal Child Health: Lactation Consulting student and Lincoln Medical Center intern Jena Reid, CLC says. “Being surrounded by 120 plus breastfeeding advocates was electrifying.”
Reid became interested in maternal child health and breastfeeding after the birth of her niece.
“I fell in love with watching my sister and niece breastfeed,” she says.
Although somewhat apprehensive to attend an online university, Reid felt inspired by her nursing sister and her husband and says that “Union Institute has been wonderful.”
“The maternal child health major has taught me so much about social health disparities for mother and baby and the political climate that surrounds breastfeeding,” she says.
As a part of the Maternal Child Health program, Reid interns at Lincoln Medical Center, a hospital currently going through the process of becoming Baby-Friendly.
“Everyday, we discharge a handful of mothers who would have otherwise fed their babies formula had it not been for the hospital changes,” Reid says. “The dominance of formula has made me want to fight more to bring breastfeeding more into the mainstream.”
Her efforts and other breastfeeding advocates’ presence at the game attracted a lot of attention from surrounding baseball fans.
“We raised a lot of awareness about breastfeeding and got a little airtime in the process,” Reid says.
She tells me that on several occasions, Yankee fans affirmed the importance of breastfeeding. “What a great cause!”, “My wife breastfed all of our kids” and “My buddy just had a baby and they’re breastfeeding,” were just some of the positive remarks Reid recalls. She says it was great to have male support and interest.
“Breastfeeding is contagious,” she continues. “I have always believed this, and I felt it echoing throughout the stadium that night.”
Even though our society is afflicted by general disapproval of public breastfeeding, participants breastfed without interference during the game.
“Mothers and babies breastfed beautifully with no problems whatsoever,” Reid explains. “It was epic to see [them] breastfeeding in the stands with ease.”
She compares these mothers’ and babies’ experience to community members steadily learning about, accepting, appreciating and embracing breastfeeding in public.
“There are constantly stories in the news about breastfeeding mothers who are bothered by someone, somewhere, for some misguided reason and the backlash that ensues tells me people are paying attention,” Reid explains. “People are advocating for themselves and others and they know their rights.”
The breastfeeding coalition recently held a baby shower shower for expectant mothers in their community and plans to host another breastfeeding and baseball event next year for World Breastfeeding Month.
“Our events are really having a lot of success, and I feel it’s because people want to know more about breastfeeding,” Reid says. “Organizations like [the Bronx Breastfeeding Coalition] give mothers an opportunity to be supported and educated.”
Reid offers this advice to other organizations interested in hosting a similar event: don’t be afraid to reach out to seemingly unattainable venues. She also encourages about four months of planning.
The “Bronx Breastfeeding Coalition Night with the NY Yankees” was organized in large part by NYC Breastfeeding Leadership Council Inc. chair member Theresa Landau.
For more information about upcoming Bronx Breastfeeding Coalition events please visit: http://www.eventbrite.com/org/270733964.