Only one word describes my trip to Ashburn, Virginia and Washington, DC — unforgettable. Friday afternoon, I was invited to present my work at the Loudon County Breastfeeding Coalition Meeting, which was held at the INOVA Natural Birth Center. It was a great opportunity to connect with their local lactation consultants.
Afterwards, we headed to a local cafe, Shoe’s, where a mother and waitress crossed paths last year as she was nursing in public. The waitress, also a breastfeeding mom, wanted to show the nursing mother her appreciation and support by writing her a thank you note on the back of her receipt and buying her a bottle of water to help her stay hydrated. It was a simple, thoughtful, act of kindness that urged me to reach out to the mom and waitress to create a reenactment on that special day.
The rest of the afternoon was spent browsing in Wegman’s, which I now LOVE, and I am hoping they will bring one to San Diego very soon! (NBFR – not breastfeeding related – but so awesome!)
Due to her extremely tight schedule, we spent an hour or so on Saturday morning with mother and lawyer, Rebecca Geller, of the Geller Law Group. Rebecca played a significant role in legislation for the year-old Virginia State Law that protects mothers and babies to breastfeeding in public, while she was nursing her own daughter at the time. The Geller Law Group continues to provide legal support to and legal services to families nationwide.
The rest of the day was dedicated to getting the #NBFtour Goodie Bags prepared for our mamas who selected the mini/private session! Here are some of the lovely things that they had to say about it:
“I was completely caught off guard – in a positive way – by the #NBFtour goodie bag! What a thoughtful take away from an already amazing event and experience with Vanessa. The t-shirt is high quality, super soft, and true to sizing. The other items in my goodie bag, and the bag itself, will bring me much enjoyment and will be useful during breastfeeding days and beyond.”
“Loved the goodie bag! Such cute and useful stuff for me and the baby!”
Finally Sunday morning we began dig in to the photo sessions, documenting the diverse variations of normal in the lives of local breastfeeding families. Much of our tour planning is virtual and the local moms help me to better understand what are good locations, time restrictions, permits needed, etc. It is quite a complex process to make these events successful and I can credit a good amount of the logistical planning to my incredibly knowledgeable host, Jill DeLorenzo, founder of PositiveBreastfeeding.com and National Administrator & Director of Nationwide Nurse-In .
As seen in Cosmopolitan
After her personal breastfeeding incident at a local gym, she testified for legislation of the VA laws for breastfeeding moms. She then took a stand against the ignorant comments made by Hoda Kotb, about breastfeeding in public being “TMI,” as she organized the Nurse in at the Today Show. I was determined to make sure others could at least participate in the nurse in online through a Google Hangout. The rest is history! She started Positive Breastfeeding to help support breastfeeding organizations that have positive articles in the media.
After we wrapped her session, we packed up and headed out to the Jefferson Memorial. It was my first trip to the national capitol. It was incredible to see the historical buildings and the fascinating architecture. However, the best part was seeing how these locations, being federal property, also fully support and provide protection for mothers and babies nursing in public. Yet this begs the question, “When will federal protection be available for nursing mothers and babies everywhere in the United States?” With the rising amount of support for breastfeeding mothers, we are seeing more cases of discrimination against them. These mothers have no intention of causing a scene, they are simply wanting to feed their babies when they show signs of hunger or need of comfort.
Our photo session began with a group of active duty military mothers who occasionally breastfeed in public in uniform and pump breast milk for their babies during their breaks while on duty. They are serving their country and facing the challenges of motherhood day by day. It was so amazing to have participants from the United States Air Force, Navy, and Army. (All names of the active duty participant’s names have been removed from their uniforms for their protection.)
We took a short break while we allowed our military mamas to opportunity to change into their civilian clothing for the photo of the entire group. It was a delicious break as we munched on the amazing snacks provided by Bessie’s Best Lactation Cookies. They have committed to providing these for each location and we are so grateful because this is the perfect refreshment for these sessions.
After we finished up at the memorial we headed over to Hains Point. It was starting to get pretty chilly, but with the sun still shining we finished up our sessions in this beautiful area of the park.
petitioned the Washington Nationals for a family nursery because I was inspired knowing there so many of us out there who could benefit from having a clean and comfortable space to nurse or pump in large public venues.” -Katie
VA Alliance for Breastfeeding Laws. We had great success in 2015 with unanimous passage of our Right to Breastfeed in Public Places law. Since that time, our grassroots group has grown to over 800 members and we continue to work towards improved pumping laws, improved workplace protections for pregnant and lactating women, paid parental leave, and other issues relevant to families during the childbearing years. One of the most rewarding aspects of my breastfeeding advocacy work has been connecting with fellow breastfeeding supporters – like Vanessa Simmons – not only in VA but also across the country. I am honored to know such amazing advocates who support women, children, and families in their breastfeeding journeys.” -Kate
Meet our Local #NBFtour Promoter With the help of Breastfeeding in Combat Boots, we established an “Active Duty Military Mama” Discount for military participants and brought in five additional participants with the promotion. It is now available at all upcoming locations. Active duty military moms have so many obstacles to breastfeeding that civilian moms don’t even have to consider. The one place they can go where they’ll receive support unlike anywhere else is Breastfeeding in Combat Boots. Veteran and author, Robyn Roche-Paull IBCLC, wrote the handbook to address all of the concerns of active duty breastfeeding mothers in the military. She also came out to be photographed for the tour and to show support to our active duty participants.
Thank you Washington, DC mamas for nursing in public and helping to normalize breastfeeding!
Special thanks to all of the #NBFtour collaborators for helping to make this tour great!
SPONSORS: Contact us to sponsor a participant or a city firstname.lastname@example.org