Posted by Kim Leonard
Every once in a while work and my personal life seem to intersect. (Okay, more like every 10 minutes…) Our recent work with First 5 Fresno County is definitely a great example of this. We’ve been working our way around Downtown Fresno and asking businesses if they’d agree to be BFF’s, or Breastfeeding Friendly businesses and part of FCF5’s BFF Campaign. Basically, a BFF business makes it known to the community that they’re a place where women can feel comfortable without fear of judgment or harassment while breastfeeding their child.
This project landed in our laps with perfect timing for me personally- I’m due in October and beginning to think about the tricky business of caring for a baby all over again. It’s amazing how much you forget about that whole experience, even after only 5 years! It’s been great seeing so many businesses step forward in support of the law that protects a women’s right to breastfeed in public (Civil Code section 43.3).
Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing to do if you’re able to. For your baby, it arms them against SIDS (which is the scariest thing I’ve ever heard of!) as well as the common baby problems-ear infections, stomach viruses, diarrhea. It can also lower the chances of respiratory infections, asthma, obesity, and childhood leukemia. Colostrum, that first batch of milk produced, is loaded with nutrients- so much so that it’s called liquid gold. It’s such good stuff I’m surprised it doesn’t have a street value yet.
As far as moms are concerned, even though it can sometimes feel like we get the short end of the stick when it comes to having kids (don’t even get me started on stretch marks- there’s not enough cocoa butter in the world) breastfeeding actually has a lot of benefits for moms too. It can lower the risk of diseases from breast cancer to type 2 diabetes- both concerns in my family, it’s much cheaper than formula (free vs $15-$25 a canister!) and it’s a wonderful way to bond with your baby.
Societally, breastfeeding is a great thing. Not only is there less waste created, but healthier babies mean a healthier community as a whole. That’s not saying you can’t have a perfectly healthy baby on formula- I was a formula kid and I’m pretty sturdy, but the benefits of breastmilk are very compelling.
I had a rough go of it with my previous two kids, but I diligently pushed through their first several months because wanted my babies to have that head start. My hope is that even moms who face challenges when it comes to breastfeeding will consider supplementing their formula with what they’re able to give- there’s nothing wrong with that!
So back to that tricky situation of breastfeeding when you’re not at home. Providing our next generation with nourishment doesn’t have to be relegated to graffitied-up bathroom stalls, and women shouldn’t be subjected to harsh stares or even rude, harassing comments when they exercise their right to breastfeed publicly. The BFF campaign is working hard to raise awareness of the societal health benefits of a culture that is supportive of breastfeeding by building up the community, one business at a time. Here’s our list we’ve compiled so far of our downtown BFF’s.
If you’re a downtown business owner and you’d like to add your name to our list, shoot us an e-mail.
If you’re not in downtown, but interested in becoming a community partner, F5FC would love to hear from you. Read more about the initiative and becoming a BFF partner.
Moms-and-dads-to-be (and mother-in-laws or friends who like to give unsolicited advice, you know who you are)- here are a few breastfeeding resources. Just scroll to the bottom of the page.