Nursing through Triumphs and Tragedy

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As I laid next to my almost 10 month old son and nursed him to sleep tonight, I couldn’t help but marvel at everything it took to get us to this point. He is my third child. My second son. My second breastfed baby. The journey hasn’t been easy.

I have to say that my breastfeeding journey began before I ever held a baby of my own in my arms. My oldest, Oliver, is almost 6. I didn’t even try to breastfeed him. I had debated it during my pregnancy, and in the end decided not to breastfeed. It was a mixture of ignorance on my part and lack of support I quickly regretted this decision and spent many months fighting back tears as I mixed bottles of formula and fed him with bottles. He wasn’t even a month old when I became determined to breastfeed our next baby.

In October 2011 I was given that chance. Our sweet daughter, Lucy, was born and within her first hour she latched on and our breastfeeding journey began. This time I had support, but was still not educated on how it all worked. I just assumed it was going to happen naturally, or in my eyes, easily. How wrong I was! Within days I had cracked, bleeding nipples. I worked with an IBCLC and we managed to get to the point where it was more comfortable, but breastfeeding Lucy was never very enjoyable. After the guilt and regret I had with not breastfeeding Oliver, quitting was not an option. I pushed through and we continued to nurse until she was almost 20 months old. At that point I was about 23 weeks pregnant with our third child, another boy, and my milk had dried up toward the end of my first trimester. Lucy continued to comfort nurse for some time, and when timing felt right we gently weaned.

In September 2013, our third child was born. Max Christopher was my first out of hospital birth, and he too latched quickly and began nursing within his first hour of life. While his birth was peaceful and wonderful, there was a lot of anxiety and fears that came along with him joining our family. You see, during my pregnancy, we had found out via ultrasound that Max was going to have a clubfoot. Our oldest son had been born with bilateral clubfoot (meaning both feet were clubbed), and I knew the pain and heartache that comes along with it. It meant lots of travel, probably surgery, and years of nighttime brace wear. Yes, it was fixable. Yes, we were thankful that it wasn’t anything worse. But when anything is wrong with your baby, oh, how your heart aches.

My milk came in within 24 hours of Max being born. I quickly started to recognize that we were having the same problems that I had had with Lucy early on. I managed to get his latch somewhat corrected, however after taking a close look in his mouth, I realized we had another issue on our hands: Max was tightly lip tied and also tongue tied. This can cause major issues with breastfeeding, and I was sure that it was the culprit of my trouble with Lucy although I didn’t know it until much later.

Although I knew Max had these ties, and I knew it was going to cause us problems, the logistics of getting it fixed was another issue. The dentist that I wanted to go to to fix it was 3 hours away. At 8 days old we began the treatment for Max’s clubfoot, and that involved driving 2 hours each way every Monday for weeks at a time. I was exhausted, both mentally and physically, and the thought of more driving and doing anything else to him was too much to bear. I just kept putting off the lip tie and tongue tie revisions as long as I could.

Getting Max’s clubfoot corrected involved weekly appointments where he would get his foot and leg casted and slowly turn the foot into a better position. Each Monday was long and tiring. He was often uncomfortable after the appointments, and unlike a lot of babies, nursing did little to comfort Max. When he was in pain or uncomfortable, he wouldn’t breastfeed. I often felt rejected and angry that the one thing I was given to be able to help him gave him no comfort whatsoever. When he was 8 weeks old Max had a minor surgery (although when its your baby, it definitely doesn’t feel minor) called a tenotomy where they cut the Achilles tendon and put on his last cast which stayed on for 3 weeks. He hated breastfeeding during that week after his surgery. I had to pump and freeze my milk because he wasn’t eating much at all. It was heartbreaking. I remember about two weeks after his tenotomy Max nursed and fell asleep, the first time that had happened since before his surgery. I cried with relief that we hadn’t lost that precious time altogether.

Three weeks after his surgery his cast came off and he began wearing his bar and boots brace. It took a little getting used to nursing with the brace. Max couldn’t really turn into me when he breastfed, so we had to get used to him being restricted by the brace and just turning his shoulders and head into my breast to feed. Nighttime was especially difficult because he usually would lay on his side and nurse since he slept in our bed next to me. He isn’t able to easily lay on his side with the brace on, and again, Max doesn’t like to nurse when he’s uncomfortable.

I also struggled with oversupply and overactive letdown. Max gained weight very quickly. (before each new cast was put on, Max was weighed and gained anywhere from 1/2 a pound to a pound a week! It was crazy!) He would nurse and then I could pump 8 oz. I had to slow down on pumping because I was worried that I was just making it worse. In the evening, Max would latch on, gulp gulp gulp, and scream. Then my husband or I would have to work to burp him and he would let out a huge burp, and then be hungry again. We would repeat this cycle for up to two hours. It was exhausting. He also seemed sensitive to things I would eat, but it was hard figuring out what exactly.

There were so many times I wanted to quit. Wanted to just throw up my hands and walk away. I wanted to be left alone, to cry, to scream, to be able to do whatever I wanted to do for however long I wanted to do it without feeling the physical effects of my baby not wanting to nurse. Instead I felt tied to a baby who often rejected feedings and emotionally, I felt like was rejecting me. Max has the sweetest, most amazing disposition and I simply adore him. But there were definitely times I resented all of our struggles and desperately needed time to myself and a decent night’s sleep.

It was only a few weeks after Max got his bar and boots brace that he ended up in the hospital with an infection (unrelated to his clubfoot). He spent two days in the hospital and it was a horrible, traumatic experience for me. Thankfully, he nursed well while we were there, but I started to feel like we just could not catch a break.

When Max was about 4 months old we decided to really look into having his tongue and lip tie revised. We made an appointment for March 13 with Dr. Notestine. I was looking forward to finally having this taken care of.

Two days before we were to leave for our appointment, my father-in-law went into the hospital for a routine procedure. Things did not go as planned, and he ended up in ICU that night. Tragically, he passed away two days later, and we obviously did not make it to our appointment. I have never felt so grief-stricken as when we lost our precious Poppa. I had to fight myself to eat the first few days, and I worried that the stress would affect my milk supply. I had to spend a lot of time away from Max during those days, and had to trust others to bottle feed him. It was very hard to leave my baby with others and worry about pumping so often.

Max was just over 6 months old when we finally were able to get his tongue tie and lip tie fixed. While it was hard to see him go through anything else, it was the best decision we made for our breastfeeding relationship. Dr. Notestine explained that instead of truly “nursing”, Max was using the wrong muscles and “sucking” to get milk out. His lip was very tightly tied and he also had a posterior tongue tie. The laser surgery to release the ties took very little time, and I was able to pick up my baby right away. We went into a quiet room and nursed and wow! What a difference! It was the first comfortable latch I had ever felt, and it brought tears to my eyes. For the first time, it felt like Max actually emptied my breast while feeding, and wanted the other side. Dr. Notestine came in and watched the end of our feeding and commented on how good it looked. For once, I felt such relief and happiness with our nursing relationship.

While I tried to introduce some solid foods to Max after his lip tie and tongue tie healed, he really wanted nothing to do with it. It wasn’t until he was closer to 9 months old that he began showing any interest in foods. While I have no problem with exclusively breastfeeding for an extended period of time, we continued to have challenges. Max is a very easily distracted baby. I often have to go into my bedroom and lay down with him in the dark to get him to breastfeed. Doing this with two older children is not easy. Going out in public with Max basically means he won’t be nursing for however many hours we will be gone. He will go 6 hours or more without eating if we aren’t home. No matter how hard I try or how full of milk my breasts are, he won’t have anything to do with nursing. It would become extremely painful for me, and he would often cry from hunger, but still would not nurse. This was probably the most frustrating part of breastfeeding for me. Now that he is eating some solids, it is somewhat easier. Recently, our family had to spend 5 days away from home taking our oldest to St. Louis for surgery to treat a relapse of his clubfeet. I had to pump and bottlefeed because unless we were alone in the hotel room, Max wouldn’t breastfeed. I had so much pain and felt so inconvenienced having to stop and pump just to turn around and give him a bottle.

Max has also had problems with ear infections, and once had a terrible allergic reaction to an antibiotic that we gave him when his ear drum ruptured. Its often cited that breastfed babies have fewer ear infections than bottle fed babies, but this doesn’t seem to be the case for Max. It feels as though it is one thing after another with this sweet baby. Its very humbling to have a child who often gets sick when you feel you are doing everything “right”.

Despite our many struggles, heartaches, and frustrations during the past 10 months, I have to say that breastfeeding has absolutely been worth it. So many times we talk about how wonderful and amazing breastfeeding is. Its true- nursing my child has been all of those things. And its also been heartbreaking, aggravating, painful, and at times, downright unenjoyable. We don’t often talk about those things. But as I lay next to Max and feel his soft hands holding onto me, listen as his breathing becomes slower and heavier as he drifts off to sleep, I am so thankful for these times and that I am able to breastfeed my child. These memories will last a lifetime.

Right away I knew

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I found out I was pregnant with my daughter when I was 18. Right away I knew breastfeeding was something I wanted to do. I attempted breastfeeding her older brother, but it did not work out as planned. My entire pregnancy I researched breastfeeding, I joined support groups, and I even took the local breastfeeding class at WIC. I was determined to breastfeed.

When my daughter got here it went amazing the first night! Then the initial pain hit and I wanted to give up. Luckily my husband, best friend, and an amazing lactation consultant kept encouraging me to keep going. My husband watched all the videos the hospital provided and learned how to help latch the baby on. He latched her on when I was getting too frustrated to get her latched. He was so incredibly supportive! He learned ways that he could bond with her, without interrupting our breastfeeding. I was amazed at how active and how important his role was to our success in our breastfeeding relationship.

My best friend kept encouraging me and reminding me how badly I wanted breastfeeding to work out this go-round. My LC taught me how to get the best latch and the best positioning comfort wise. They were both a huge support, especially in the beginning!

When my daughter was 11 months old I found out she had an Upper Lip Tie (ULT), we chose not to get this corrected since it didn’t hinder our breastfeeding relationship. It did explain why we had a rough start pain wise and why the first few minutes of each nursing session were painful. Her ULT corrected itself around 14 months.

My daughter is now 23 months old and still breastfeeding with no end in sight! I plan to allow her to self-wean and my husband backs my decision 100%.

I have also donated 100s of oz to friends and family for their babies and I nursed my sisters son when he was a new born.

I am so glad that I stuck with breastfeeding. I am so glad that my daughter is still nursing. It has allowed me to stop and focus on just her a few times a day which was so important to me since I was otherwise busy chasing around my toddler son. It has allowed my daughter and I to have an amazing bond and it gave me a chance to expand my knowledge on something that would forever change my life.

My goal now is to become an IBCLC to help other mothers experience this amazing bond!

By Jess M

Grace Prevails with Fearless Trust

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I did not have any attachment to my own mother at all.  She had some serious hurt and issues she did not want to deal with and it really prevented a healthy relationship between the two of us.  What I took from that is that when it came time for me to have my own family, I wanted things to be different.  I wanted to have an incredible relationship and attachment to my kids, in every way possible.

It was a surprise to find out I was pregnant in the summer of 2010, and I set out to do all kinds of research possible.  I wanted to know what all of my options were.  I was blessed to not have any distractions such as working a typical job, and I really threw myself into preparing for my pregnancy.

Some of my dear friends told me about breastfeeding and I was all ears.  As I started to my research and I heard about all the wonderful benefits, some physical and health related for both mama and baby, but also the relationship benefits and attachment that can occur, I was thrilled.  But I had no concept of what I was in for.

We birthed unassisted from home and was able to start breastfeeding within the hour at home.  We did lotus birthing and never cut the cord.  All very new things to us, but we just went with what we felt led to.  We are very outside of the box people, and her name reflects that.  Our daughter’s first name is Fearless Trust, taken from Psalm 27.

That first night, of her sleeping on my chest, us tummy to tummy, was just heaven on earth.  I had never known such joy.

I was not truly prepared about the after effects of birth.  I felt like a truck had hit me physically.  I felt so awesome pregnant, and so horrible not being pregnant.  No one told me that breastfeeding could be painful.  I was not prepared that my nipples needed to adjust to being latched on, I was not prepared that getting the right latch was necessary or it would hurt both of us in different ways, I was not prepared that with every session, it would cause my uterus to clamp down and that was a natural process after birth.  And worse, I had no one in my family to reach out to, no real friends to be that open and honest with about what we were going through, so I just started researching on the internet, and listening to my instincts, which has always led me to good things.

I took a ton of arnica.  I diffused a lot of Frankincense and Myrrh, which seemed to soothe both of us.  And I really worked on getting to know this little one and developing our communication right from the get-go.

I started noticing different positions helped her and myself.  Stacks of pillows around me became my best friend.  We virtually lived on the couch or the bed the first few weeks.  I was blessed to have an incredible MIL who brought me food and let me and her rest and bond.  I could not believe how hungry and thirsty I was, nor how tired I was breastfeeding.  Many naps occurred for us both.

I had read stories of mothers in various cultures who basically stayed in for 90 days after birth and I gave myself and this little one permission to do the same.  I did not worry about attendance to anything, going shopping, anything like that, and outside of few walks close to home, the little one and I just stayed and rested and bonded.  I totally credit this one particular thing in helping our breastfeeding journey, and also our relationship.  It made for very low stress for both of us.  It is a privilege that I know few get to experience, but rest at this stage is so vital for both mama and baby.  Not everyone may need 90 days of that, nor do I remember if we were exact on that number or not, but what was significant is that I felt that any competition to show or prove that her and I were back up and running at full speed, going out and running errands and making public appearances — I just felt none of that was necessary at all.

In my history, my gut health was horrible and had caused a lot of problems for me.  In researching breastfeeding and introducing solids, it was awesome to see how breastmilk helped prepare their gut for LIFE.  And also to find out that there is a time that the gut seals itself, and that sealing can happen anywhere from 6-10 months old of age. I was very interested in helping her get ultimate gut health so that she would not have to struggle like I had or try to rebuild her gut health.  I also watched her for interest in solids.  She really did not have any and was totally satisfied by milk.  So we went almost a full year exactly in breastmilk alone.  I never pushed solids on her, but really waited until she was ready.  Her first solids were homemade chicken bone broth with a pastured egg yolk in it. And we took our time with solids.

I know by this time, many mamas wean or look into weaning.  I kept researching, but I felt I did not want to force anything.  As she got older, it seemed that the breastfeeding was not just a nutritional thing for her, there was this huge emotional aspect that it brought her in calming her emotions.  She never did want a pacifier or bottle, she just wanted me.  Or I should say, she wanted what we referred to as “milk-milk time.”  I can tell you that breastfeeding through the emotional two-year old time and through teething, and having that available to help with those meltdowns was just incredible for both of us.  

Yes, some adjustments had to be made.  As she got older, at times her latch would get lazy.  Or you go through they want to breastfeed in “olympic” positions, even upside down.  Or you go through being very “touched out” as a mama, and you really don’t feel like breastfeeding right now, or because you’re working on something.  We had to constantly upgrade our relationship overall, and our breastfeeding relationship.

We just hit the age of three and a half years.  And we are still breastfeeding very strongly.  Right now, she likes it at night sometimes, while we sleep, and in the mornings when she wakes up, or still she uses it if she ever gets really upset and it is her way of calming herself down.  She has had to adjust to different positions since she is so big now. And I have had to make some adjustments too, in various ways. But overall, we have worked together on this and the benefits of that have spread throughout our entire relationship. There is a trust level and communication level we have that is hugely significant to us both.  

In addition, she has never been sick yet. We have not had to deal with a cold, ear infection, none of that.  Of course, there are other elements in play to that process.  But I do believe breastfeeding has played a huge part in this, in giving her gut time to seal, and giving her immune system a huge jump start, etc.  Also, she is off the charts in how tall she is, which again, other elements affect that of course, but I do believe that extended breastfeeding has played a huge part in that.  

Whenever she is ready for this process to end, I am fine with that.  But for as long as she feels this is something she needs, I want to partner with her in that way.  I never expected our journey to be like this, but it has been an absolutely amazing journey.  And I love that my dream of having an awesome connection and relationship with her has come true, and that we have breastfeeding to thank in helping that to be all that it is today.  

Cherieann Riley  

Breastfeeding Addison Serenity

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The experience of breastfeeding my child is wonderful for many reasons. Not only is it good nutrition, it is also
a great bonding experience. It allows me to hold my daughter close, cuddle her, and be in awe. In addition,
breastfeeding reduces the cost of formula and is always accesible.

As soon as my daughter was born, I was excited to breastfeed her as I was aware of the many advantages it offers. 
However, it was a bit challenging. It was difficult for her to latch on properly and I was not sure how to hold and
position her correctly. By the second day, my nipples were sore, bleed and hurt really bad. After reading about
breastfeeding, I thought I was prepared.  Unfortunately, it was not the case– it has harder than what I anticipated.
Despite the struggles, I was determined to get it right; therefore, learned to be patient and asked for help. It was
a learning experience for both of us. Because I did not breastfeed my first child, who is now 6 years old, I felt
like we had missed out on an amazing opportunity. At that time, I had the same challenges and gave up instead of seeking help.

Because my milk supply was so low, I was encouraged to breastfeed for at least a week after birth.  They assured me that
my baby would be getting colostrum, which is the most important part of breastfeeding for a newborn.  However, I felt like
that amount of time would not suffice. Thanks to the support of other breastfeeding mommy’s and further research, I learned
about different methods to increase my milk supply.

The importance of breastmilk is critical for my child as it helps her with digestion, reduces colic and gas. Breastmilk stores
the right amount of vitamins and proteins that my baby needs to grow. It is also convenient to be able to feed her in the middle
of the night instead of waking up, half asleep, to prepare a bottle. Best part of all is that it is free! Breastfeeding also
benefits me as it helps my uterus in returning to its pre-pregnancy size and reduces post-partum bleeding, as well as helping me
to return to my pre-pregnancy weight.

Our breastfeeding time together is truly amazing! I will soon return to work, and although I will be pumping, I will miss the
eye to eye contact we share.

Don’t forget to check out our World Breastfeeding Week Giveaways!

Breastfeeding with Breast Implants

With my first child, in 1996, I attempted to breastfeed and had zero support, no means to really research breastfeeding, so naturally this was a complete failure.

With my second child I nursed for approximately 8 months, but I was still very uneducated about the whole process. I made many mistakes. I ended up weaning due to the belief that I wasn’t producing enough milk based off one factor. Engorgement. I was no longer feeling engorged so I thought I had an inadequate supply.

I’ve had breast implants for about 10 years now. During this time, people who have known, come to know or noticed have always felt the need to voice their opinion on my choices.

I’ve heard everything from “You were fine the way you were”, and “You should have loved the way you were” and “You looked better without them” to remarks about my self esteem and self confidence. I made this choice for myself. I reseached my Surgeon. I worked to earn the money. I saved my money. I wasn’t happy with what I saw in the mirror. I didnt do it to please anyone else. And at the end of the day, It was my choice to create the image I wanted to see in the mirror.


I chose to have my implants placed Sub Muscular, often referred to as behind the muscle, however the implant is technically placed between the Pectoralis Major and Pectoralis Minor in a pocket created to hold the implant.

I chose a Periareolar Incision, which is essentially an incision that is made around the bottom edge of the areola. I chose this incision over the Inframammory Fold Incision (the crease under the breast), the Transubumbilical incision (incision made in the belly button) and the Transaxillary Incision (in the armpit) because I would have a shorter recovery time granted the type of placement that I had chosen. Recovery was lengthy with an “Behind the Muscle” placement. I expected to be sore and tender as you would expect with any invasive surgery. I knew I would need help but the one thing I dont think I completely understood was, You use your Pectoral Muscles for just about every movement your body makes, whether you know it or not. This wasn’t a breast Augmentation that would have a 3 day recovery.

I did not plan to have more children at the time and felt my family was pretty complete. About 5 years later, that all changed. We decided we wanted to have more children.

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We were fortune to have twins and I fully planned to breastfeed. Yes, with implants. Initially I was told this was impossible and not to waste my time trying. However, after some research I learned that there was information that indicated that the “impossibility” of breastfeeding wasn’t as “impossible” as I was initially told. This made me very happy.

The birth of the twins was quite traumatic, they arrived 5 weeks ahead of schedule and I had an emergency C-Section that wasnt as much of an emergency as I was led to believe. Both of my babies had some medical concerns and difficulty feeding and keeping milk down. Baby A recovered with me in my room, Baby B was taken to Intensive Care and I did not see her for 12 hours. I didn’t have a proper support network, accurate information and again constantly had someone in my ear saying “You can’t breastfeed (with implants)” for every reason imaginable from “it’ll wreck your body” to “they will pop” and “Silicone will leak into your baby and they will die” . Nearly every bit of information was nonfactual and based off no fact whatsoever. The thing that bothered me the most was they were repeating this to me and it was obviously something they believed too. We faced alot of issues. Over Engorgement, Poor Latch, Soreness, Overactive Letdown, Lip Tie, Tongue Tie, Dietary Concerns, Both were on Reflux Prescriptions. By approximately 6 weeks both were formula fed.

We were almost immediately blessed with another pregnancy, a baby girl. Again, I wanted to breastfeed her. I was determined. I was going to do it. Her delivery was complicated and we ended up staying in the hospital for 5 days. During that time I had some great, very supportive lactation certified nurses. It was sort of a relief to have the help because I needed it.

After I got home, I met a WIC Lactation Consultant named Sarah at the Casa Grande WIC Office and the Eloy WIC Office. Had it not been for Sarah and the information, help and encouragement, I don’t think our Breastfeeding relationship would have been such a strong relationship. I was one of the first women she had worked with that has breast implants, but she was incredibly knowledgable. If she didn’t have the answers, she would find them. Not only was she helpful in keeping our Breastfeeding strong during her 9-5 business hours, she was there for me at 10pm on a Sunday night when I just didn’t think I could do it one more time. Sarah went out of her way to provide me accurate information about medications and the safety and impact on breastmilk. She moved on from WIC and I was never able to thank her. My daughter and I shared almost a 3 year long breastfeeding relationship. An amazing lifelong bond was built between Azari and I.

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Fact is, breastfeeding with implants can be done. Not everyone can do it. Chosen placement may effect your ability, your incision location might be a comfort factor. But to blindy walk into the situation thinking you cannot do it is not much different than saying “My sister had a C-Section because her baby was breech, so I will also have a C-Section” when this couldn’t be further from the truth. Just as every birth and pregnancy is unique, so is every Breastfeeding Relationship, including those with implants.

Changing Arizona Breastfeeding Laws

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I was obsessed with my computer and social media long before Facebook happened.  As a stay at home mom I needed the window to the world provided by messages boards.  I belonged to one on Yahoo called AZMamas, a group for moms who were striving to raise our children in a gentle and thoughtful manner but talked about topics that ranged from best brand of cloth diaper to very non-kid friendly conversations about which batteries were best for hand-held battery-operated toys not meant for children  This message board, our social media, played nearly as big a role in a huge victory for moms and babies as any person involved.  There are more than a dozen versions of this story, but this is mine:

In the summer of 2005 I was checking in on AZMamas and read a post by Lisa Schedler about how a friend of hers was asked to stop nursing at a Chandler City Pool  because someone reported they were uncomfortable with her nursing, even though she was actually fully covered for her comfort (she hadn’t worn a bathing suit with easy nursing access), and showing less than even the staff members of the pool.  The last thing Lisa wrote was, “Anyone know the status on AZ getting some breastfeeding laws?”

The immediate response from other Mamas was to do a nurse in at the public pool, but then someone quickly suggested that a better idea would be going to an upcoming City Council Meeting.  One mom, Michelle Hottya, reminded us about how if we could get support from a city it would be easier to make a state wide change. Several of us shot out emails to elected officials for Chandler City Council and also some of our state legislators.  One of the first emails written to Chandler was by one of the smartest people I know, Christia Bridges-Jones, who can debate anyone on any topic and will never lose.  I also put together an email for my state legislators and was in such a hurry that I spelled my own name wrong (which might not have been noticed but it was forwarded to a Legislative Chief of Staff and a friend of my husband who got a good laugh). 

Most of us had never even met the woman who was asked not to breastfeed at the pool and we were all ready to go to battle with her.  It took a day to find out that the mom,  Amy Milliron  was planning on speaking at the City Council Meeting and was put 3rd on the agenda.  Many of us got busy clearing our schedule to go to this meeting.  There was a Tucson business ran by Chandra Ruiz that sold pro-breastfeeding t-shirts, and although I didn’t know her personally, I emailed Chandra to see if she could make it to the meeting and possibly bring some of her shirts for people to wear to the meeting. Chandra couldn’t make it to the meeting, but we sparked her interest and she started working on getting the word out to her peeps in Tucson. 

Within a few days of the original post, we were able to fill a Chandler City Council Meeting to standing room only with moms, dads, and children of all ages to show our support for Amy and her son Aiden who was only a few months old.  The other group that was at the meeting was the media.  Many of us were interviewed and others were filmed at the meeting actually nursing!  I give one of the stations bonus points for not only showing babies nursing, but they filmed one of my toddlers nursing (they stopped just before what looked like she may be giving The Finger). 

The members of the City Council moved Amy Milliron up on the agenda because there were so many of us, and maybe they wanted us to leave with all of our kids so they could go back to a quieter and more typical City Council Meeting.  I still had never met Amy, but was impressed with her desire to get to the top and ask for clarification on the situation that had occurred at the city pool.  She showed no signs of nervousness to address the Council and let them know what happened.  There were others that stood up and spoke, including Amy’s mother. 

Within the same week as the City Council Meeting, I received a call from an assistant to one of the state legislators I had emailed.  Senator Ken Cheuvront wanted to know if a group of us moms could meet with him and a few other state legislators to discuss the issue.  Ummm…yeah!  I got back on AZMamas and let people know about the request to meet.  Several of us got together and created a PowerPoint presentation, talking points, and a strategic plan.  All while sitting in someone’s house with kids running around. 

We showed up at the Capitol, covered tattoos, some hairy armpits, and any appearance of tree hugging or hippy living.  We talked to some staff and legislators – both Democrats and Republicans (one was Senator Timothy Bee from Tucson whose mother had been a La Leche League Leader!).  The meeting was a start, but we didn’t leave with anyone willing to sponsor a bill.  One female legislator basically said that we needed to stay home until we were done nursing. 

What I didn’t know at the time was that another of my legislators had already been working on drafting a bill and she had contacted Amy Milliron and was planning on meeting with her.  And there was another local group that had been working with a legislator from Tucson on bill, but it never got very far. 

Word spread about everything going on with posts on AZMamas, forums on Mothering.Com,
and the newly sprouted up message board that was dedicated specifically to the topic of breastfeeding advocacy, AZLactivists.  We were so motivated and things were moving so quickly.  We were actually reprimanded by the group that had been working for years on breastfeeding advocacy.  We were told we were going to crash and burn by moving at the speed we were without any real planning.  Things needed to be done slower for them to work.  The reprimand came at a meeting many of us were attending, and I don’t think they knew we were there.  The fun part was during introductions when I said my name and the speaker said, “Oh…so YOU are Karen Bayless Feldman!”  My reputation had preceded me – perhaps because when I posted I may not have always taken myself too seriously, after all I tend to misspell my own name when I’m in a hurry or all riled up or it’s a Tuesday. 

We all finally got to meet Amy when she invited us to join her at a meeting with the legislator she had been contacted by, Representative Kyrsten Sinema, and a staff attorney to help write a bill.  It was a beautiful day.  There was already a bill partly written and we were given the opportunity to add or change a few things.  The attorney would look up what we wanted to see if it should work and pretty much everything we asked for was put in the bill, which was simply that a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be present, and that she would not be violating indecent exposure laws. 

Rep. Sinema has always been a very intelligent person and that also meant she knew that a bill with her name on it, or most likely the name of any Democrat legislator, would not pass in our Republican dominated legislature.  Rep. Sinema helped us find two sponsors for the bill that were both Republicans, Senator Timothy Bee and Representative Jonathan Paton.  It was a brilliant move.  Rep. Sinema help was nearly all done from behind the scenes because it would give us a better chance.  Rep. Sinema introduced us to Chad Campbell who taught a class on Citizen Lobbying, and she helped us organize a picnic on the Capitol Lawn.  Representative Kyrsten Sinema is now Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema.  She is still smart and amazing and getting it done in Washington DC!

From our Citizen Lobbying class we learned that one way to convince state legislators to vote a certain way is the process of giving public comment, and the only way to be able to give public comment was through a system that required signing in at a computer at the Capitol and we wanted to get as many people as possible signed up.  That’s why we had a picnic.  We put word out on all the different message boards, asked people to spread the word, and we fed families and legislators apple pie (get it, our theme was Moms & Apple Pie!).  Plenty of moms and dads signed up and we had some great pie!  We were ready again with talking points for talking to media and I was appointed to make sure that everyone was being respectful because we didn’t want the event to turn into a protest.  We also wanted to prove that breastfeeding could happen in front of our state capitol and not be all that scandalous.  For whatever reason it was decided that I could best handle any situations where someone might actually be showing breasts while breastfeeding.  Funny thing was there were more butt cracks showing from low rise jeans when moms were sitting on the grass than breasts showing during any nursing that went on. 

By this time we had a planning group of 12 of us:  Amy Milliron, Christia Bridges-Jones, Karen Mayo-Shanahan, Lisa Schedler, Chandra Ruiz, Michelle Hottya, Ruth Roazen, Sharon Baartmans, Sommer Bradford, Gretchen Kies, Merrie Rheingans, me, and  12 of us that were doing most of the planning, but we had so many other moms that were helping out.  We couldn’t have done what we did without being able to reach out to other moms for babysitting, coming to picnics, writing letters to their legislators, making official public comments, and so much more.  I’ve mentioned a few people who were part of the 12 (we never could come up with a name for ourselves – The Dirty Dozen seemed like a bad idea). 

In February 2006 we had to prepare for a hearing with The Government Reform and Government Finance Accountability Committee that would be discussing House Bill 2376.  It was our third time hiding tats and other signs of tree hugging lifestyles to go down to the Capitol.    A few of us were prepared to speak at the committee meeting that was hearing the bill.  One thing that wasn’t expected was that a legislator tried to add something on to our bill that would make having sex with animals illegal (there had been a recent situation that involved a farm animal in Mesa).  The two speakers were Amy Milliron and Christia Bridges-Jones, and they were prepared for most of the questions – including one legislator wanting to know if we would then end up with 40-something year old men claiming to be breastfeeding if they were caught making out in a car.  And luckily the added beastiality part was taken out (although we didn’t want it included we also knew that having it would probably make legislators afraid to vote no). 

The  bill passed  through the committee and where some bills still die a quick death.  Ours went on to the House Floor and it where all but two House Members voted yes (I think one of the no votes was the female legislator that thought we should stay home until our babies weaned).  Then the bill went on to pass unanimously in the State Senate.  The final step was to wait for Governor Janet Napolitano to either sign the bill, ignore the bill (which has the same affect as signing, but not nearly as cool), or veto the bill.  Gov. Napolitano signed the bill and by that fall we had a law that would protect women like Amy who just wanted to feed her baby when he needed to eat. 

We were all warned in the beginning that it can take years for a good bill to pass.  We were cautioned not to get too excited because it could take some time.  We were scolded for rushing things.  And in one year we were able to get the word out to enough moms (and dads) to get a bill passed.  I can only imagine how much larger it would have been if FaceBook or Twitter had been around.  Now our little AZMamas, which is nearly defunct, seems so small compared to the number of people the new shiny forms of social media could have reached,  but we did it. 

The actual law: 
Section 22-1-13
Breastfeeding children in public or private locations.
A mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be present.

(Act 2006-526, p. 1222, §1.)
13-1402. Indecent exposure; exception; classification

A. A person commits indecent exposure if he or she exposes his or her genitals or anus or she exposes the areola or nipple of her breast or breasts and another person is present, and the defendant is reckless about whether the other person, as a reasonable person, would be offended or alarmed by the act.

B. Indecent exposure does not include an act of breast-feeding by a mother.

The original post that started it all:

I’m just frustrated and venting here. Today a friend told me that  recently she was at a Chandler pool and was asked to go to the bathroom because someone reported they were uncomfortable with her nursing. She was off to the side in a shaded area and was being discreet. The one thing that really upset her was that there was more skin being exposed by the people in the pool and working there.

Fortunately she knows a reporter and has called them, hopefully they will run something on this.

I’m just so mad at the person who complained whoever they are. And I’m super mad at the fact she was asked to take her baby to the bathroom to be fed.

All day it’s been on my mind. I’ll update if I learn anything new. Anyone know the status on AZ getting some breastfeeding laws?


Written By: Karen Bayless Feldman

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