Missoula gets approval for being more approving of breastfeeding

Did you catch this letter on today’s Opinion page?

In it, a registered nurse and mom of twins takes note of the growing acceptance of breastfeeding she’s seen in Missoula.

Tiffany Manthie includes some interesting info, such as, “According to the Centers for Disease Control website, so far in 2013, 37.2 percent of all children born in Montana were still breast-feeding at 12 months, compared to 30.6 percent in 2009.”

She also gives a shout-out to both big hospitals in Missoula, certified lactation consultant and Nursing Nook owner Jennifer Stires, WIC, the La Leche League and, finally, all of Missoula.

Even if Missoula and Montana are growing more comfortable with public breastfeeding, it’s worth repeating that nursing mothers are fully covered by Montana law (no pun intended). They have every right – and plenty of reason – to feed their babies this way.

The law has been in place since 1999, and in fact was sponsored by a Missoula mom and state legislator – Carol Williams. Yet as recently as four years ago Missoula got itself all in an uproar over a mom who was asked by a restaurant manager to cover herself while breastfeeding her infant son.

Manthie, in contrast, recently fed her twins at a restaurant without receiving even “one second glance.”

We’ve come a long way, baby, and I hope to see more signs that Missoulians are growing more understanding and supportive of breastfeeding.

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Breastfeeding mom knows her rights – and so should you

It seems a local mom was asked by a staff member of Currents to breastfeed her child in the bathroom this week. The mom protested, but the staff insisted that she stop breastfeeding in public.

Knowing her rights, the mom complained to Missoula Parks and Rec, which issued a prompt apology and pledged to correct the problem by running staff through training.

The three e-mails copied below should serve as an important reminder to parents to know the laws about breastfeeding in Montana. I know there was a time when I, as a new mom, felt rather meek about stuff like this. Time was, I would have obeyed the lifeguard at Current unquestioningly, and slunk off to the bathroom to nurse my baby. I am so thankful was have moms like Kris Laroche to stand up for all of us.

I also hope the conversation will serve as a reminder to businesses, agencies and organizations – both public and private – to brush up on Montana’s breastfeeding laws as well. It’s not enough just to post a sign in the window declaring your support of breastfeeding. You have to make sure you – and your employees – understand what that means. And that includes making it clear that moms have the right to breastfeed their babies in public places.

– MM

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If you have questions about breastfeeding …

… check out this profile of the Nursing Nook, a one-stop shop for breastfeeding information and other helpful tools. It’s run by Missoula lactation expert Jennifer Stires, whom you might recall is also chair of the Missoula Breastfeeding Coalition.

Or, check out the Nursing Nook Web site, or drop by the place at 1900 S. Reserve St. – but be sure to time it just right, because the nook is only open Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

However, if you have a question that just can’t wait, give Stires a call at (406) 721-5440 or (406) 396-6092.

– Missoula Mom

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