Nervous about unbuttoning your blouse in public? It’s an awkward moment for every nursing mother. And it’s equally the same feeling of inconvenience with breastfeeding in airports, while traveling. It is certainly different than feeding at home. While it may be frowned upon by some people, it is perfectly legal to breastfeed your baby in public, and this includes breastfeeding in airports. 

The reality is that while airports are going the extra mile in the terminal to make your layover more enjoyable, the whole nursing thing is treated like an unwanted black sheep in the family. Most airports don’t offer a designated friendly establishment for nursing moms and the ones that do are negligent in making it known. So what sort of impression does this leave you lactating mothers?

breastfeeding room airport

Breastfeeding nursing room at San Jose International Airport

First of all, remember that breastfeeding your child is your right. When it comes to breastfeeding in public, we are all supposed to stand up and applaud the practice. But as anyone who has breastfeed in an airport can testify, it ain’t easy. And we can all pretty much agree that air travel, even in the best of circumstances, isn’t fun. It is particularly harrowing and this is especially true if a lactating mom has to return to work.

As uncomfortable as it can be, the best bet is to inquire at the information service counter if there is a facility for nursing mothers. Family changing room might be considered a reasonable accommodation, which may at least have a comfy chair, a handicapped bathroom and your last resort, a regular bathroom. If you are lucky enough to have access to a business class lounge, your situation is a lot easier.

Recently, a survey reveals that despite new state and federal workplace laws that require certain employers to provide moms who breastfeed or pump with lactation room, ideally a private space with a chair, table and electrical outlet, airports are doing a pretty lame job one at that.

The study, a phone survey of customer service representatives at 100 U.S. airports, found out that only 37 actually had a designated lactation room, although 62 of the airports said they were breastfeeding friendly. Furthermore, in 25 of those airports, the so-called lactation room was a unisex/family bathroom. 

Only eight US airports met the minimum requirement for a breast-pumping mother: San Francisco International Airport, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Baltimore/Washington International Airport, Indianapolis International Airport, Mineta San Jose International Airport, Akron-Canton Airport in Ohio, Dane County Regional in Wisconsin and Florida’s Pensacola International Airport. 

“Finding a clean, private room other than a bathroom to express her milk at the airport was the biggest challenge for the traveling breast-pumping mother,” the authors of the study note.

Mamava nursing stations

Mamava nursing stations are installed at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport.

This is about as dismal a finding as you can get, and what it comes down to highlights how little our society understands and supports the importance of breastfeeding and the needs of nursing mothers. This underscores the continuing difficulty of that challenge.

USA Today however says, “An increasing number of airports around the country are creating nursing stations for traveling mothers.” Airports can now claim to be mom-friendly.

David Jaacks, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and his Smithfield Company have come up with a design for a small enclosure for nursing moms, a “lactation suite,” that could soon spread to public areas including airports and malls worldwide.

Just this week, Minneapolis – St. Paul International Airport is opening two new, specially designed lactation rooms in the Lindbergh terminal, near gates F1 and C13. As this study suggests, MSP may be the cheeriest and most welcoming airport in the nation. For several years, it has had a comfortable, well equipped “nursing mothers room” near Gate C13 in the Lindbergh terminal.

airport breastfeeding pod

Breastfeeding pod, Mamava nursing station, at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport.

Additionally, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey plans to introduce the free-standing lactation “pods” in Terminal B at Liberty Newark International Airport and in LaGuardia Airport’s Central Terminal Building. And Terminals at John F. Kennedy International Airport are pondering upon installing lactation areas. Other global international airports also offer a list of nursing venues, and kudos to Changi for having as many nursing rooms as it does gates.

The physical demands of breastfeeding can be overwhelming and perhaps stressful, as it takes a lot of attention and it’s sort of exhausting. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast feeding infants exclusively for the first six months of their lives, and continued supplemental breastfeeding as other foods are introduced to the infant’s diet.

In today’s modern world, it’s quite methodical to feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, even doing so discreetly. While many people aren’t thrilled about having a baby near them in flight, public awareness is imperative in a way that people should truly understand the importance of lactating pods, and how easy it is to support moms on their breastfeeding journey.


Fox News posted an article this week entitled: 12 surprising facts about breastfeeding new moms should know. I found that the information in this article did include surprising facts about breastfeeding; therefore, I felt it worth sharing.

1. Breast milk isn’t always white.
Breast milk is usually white or cream-colored, but it can also be green, blue, yellow, or orange. You might also notice that it’s thicker one day and more watery the next. Either way, it’s perfectly normal and nothing to be worried about, said Sara Chana Silverstein, an international board-certified lactation consultant, master herbalist and creator of the Savvy Breastfeeding app.

breastfeeding-in-public2. One breast will produce more.
Just like one of your hands is bigger, your breasts are probably different sizes too. So one may outperform the other, but it doesn’t mean you won’t have enough milk for your baby. Nevertheless, always start feeding on the side that you finished with last time to try to equal the two out.

“We want the same type of stimulation to help with production,” said Cindy Shelton, a registered nurse and an international board-certified lactation consultant at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

3. You may feel outrageously large.
It’s not a look you’re going for as a new mom, but get ready for your breasts to be engorged and larger than they have ever been, especially in the beginning.

“Milk increases in volume that third to fifth day and it does it with a vengeance,” Shelton said.

How large your breasts get really depend on your skin’s elasticity. And as your baby gets older and you’re feeding less frequently, they won’t be as engorged. When you stop breastfeeding, your breasts may end up smaller or bigger than before you were pregnant.

4. Breast milk doesn’t only come out of your nipple.
Since there are approximately 15 to 25 milk ducts in each breast that make milk, there are several pores in each breast where milk comes out of, not just the single hole in your nipple.

5. You’ll leak— especially when you least expect it.
Stock up on breast pads, ladies! Especially in the beginning, when your baby (or even another baby) cries, your breasts will let down on both sides. It may also happen when you look at your baby, at his photo, or when it’s time for a feeding.

6. Sex might be painful.
Lack of estrogen can cause vaginal dryness and make intercourse painful. Use a water-based lubricant or talk to your OB/GYN about ways to cope.

7. You could have too much milk.
Some women have a strong milk ejection reflex that causes breast milk to come out quickly and spray everywhere. Some babies even choke because they can’t keep up with the flow. Talk to your lactation consultant about techniques that can help slow down the flow.

emotional-rollercoaster8. You might go on an emotional roller coaster.
Oxytocin, the hormone that contracts the muscles in your milk ducts to let down milk will make you feel calm and relaxed, even sleepy. Yet some women with a strong milk ejection reflex may also experience nausea, weakness, sweating and anxiety because of the intense hormonal shift, Silverstein said. Some women may also experience intense thirst and may need to add minerals to their water. Speak to your lactation consultant about ways to cope.

9. You don’t need extra calcium.
Drinking milk won’t help you make milk, yet breastfeeding may cause your bones to shrink. The good news is that once you stop breastfeeding, experts say bone density returns. What’s more, studies show that breastfeeding can prevent osteoporosis. The National Academy of Sciences recommends breastfeeding moms get 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day from dairy, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Weight-bearing exercises can prevent osteoporosis as well.

10. An orgasm can make your breasts leak.
Since oxytocin, the hormone responsible for milk letdown is the same released when you orgasm, you could spring a leak at the most inopportune time. A bra with breast pads and a sense of humor can go a long way.

“There’s no need to be embarrassed—many women experience it,” Shelton said.

11. You can eat more and still lose weight.
Your body needs between 300 and 500 extra calories a day for breastfeeding. Yet instead of worrying that you’re eating enough, just listen to your body and the pounds should melt off in no time.
“Feed your hunger and you’ll find that you’re eating those extra calories,” Shelton said.

12. Your period may stop.
If you’re exclusively breastfeeding— no bottles (even with pumped milk) or pacifiers— and you’re feeding on demand, chances are you won’t have your period, Shelton said. Some women will get their periods back six weeks after delivery, when they start to wean, or not until they’ve stopped breastfeeding altogether. Even if you don’t have your period, it doesn’t mean you’re not ovulating so be sure to use birth control if you’re not planning to have another baby any time soon.

I hope you enjoyed these surprising facts about breastfeeding!

I know that there is a difference between breast-milk feeding and breastfeeding. You know that there is a difference between breast-milk feeding and breastfeeding. But, most importantly, most mothers don’t know the difference between the two–and believe me there is a difference. In a recently published article, by Pacific Standard Magazine, entitled The Unseen Consequences of Pumping Breast Milk, multiple lactation consultant experts explain not only the difference between the two, but express what trained lactation consultants should be doing differently (in ways of assisting mothers in both technique and education).

breast-milk-feeding-and-breastfeedingAs with all students–and that’s what mothers are…students–different students have distinctive ways in which they learn. It is important, as their teacher, that you ensure that they grasp the difference between breast-milk feeding and breastfeeding.

In the aforementioned article, Virginia Thorley, a lactation consultant and honorary research fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia, worries about the perils of “misleading” mothers, in regards to promoting “breast-milk feeding as identical to breastfeeding.” She believes that the biggest gap between the student and teachers is using terms both accurately and in a way that the mothers can understand.

“The new challenge is to use language accurately, and tell mothers the truth that feeding their milk to their babies by bottle is less than equivalent to breastfeeding.” — Virginia Thorley

Another concern that Thorley has is that when a baby breastfeeds, it isn’t just about the milk–it is about security, nurturing, nutrition, and bonding with the mother. She isn’t wrong; a 2010 study proved that babies that were exclusively fed pumped beast-milk were two times more likely to consume too much breast-milk, affecting their growth rate. Additionally, there are other studies that prove that infants who were not directly breastfed have a significant increase in both coughing and wheezing episodes in comparison to those that were breastfed.

The science doesn’t lie. It is important that as a lactation consultant, you aren’t just enforcing breast-milk, but that you are explaining to mothers the difference between breast-milk feeding and breastfeeding.

Improving Mothers’ Contact with Newborns


Photo courtesy of New Hanover Regional Medical Center

The recent statistics coming out of the New Hanover Regional Medical Center are further evidence that lactation consultants are key to improving successful contact with newborns and their mothers. In the last two years, since it adopted the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative begun at NHRMC’s Betty H. Cameron Women’s & Children’s Hospital, New Hanover Regional Medical Center has seen a sharp increase in mothers exclusively breastfeeding.

Before the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative was implemented, only 38 percent of mothers were breastfeeding exclusively after their release from New Hanover Regional Medical Center. The number of mothers exclusively breastfeeding today? 78 percent. That means more than twice as many mothers at this medical center are successfully breastfeeding their newborn babies.

What can account for the increased contact with newborns and their mothers?

The ten steps of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. These steps increase bonding time with a mother and her newborn, and focuses on making available breastfeeding education material and training.

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  2. Train all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  6. Give infants no food or drink other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice rooming in – allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birth center.

In an interview with Star News Online, lactation consultant Gigi Lawless stated that one way in which the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative has improved contact with newborns is that “it allows for the mother to be involved in the baby’s care all of the time.”

Test are run in the mother’s room and the baby sleeps in the room overnight. As these lactation consultants have proven, increased contact makes a significant difference when it comes to successful breastfeeding.

As someone who see lactation consultants as a group of professionals trying to help weary mothers and uncooperative babies, I hate to see them reflected poorly in the news. In the last week, The Washington Post published two articles that portrayed lactation consultants in a negative light.

evil-lactation-consultantsThe first of these articles, Your breast-feeding and bottle feeding comments are unwelcome, calls lactation consultants “lactation torturers.”

The second post, My husband calls them breast-feeding bullies, says that many see lactation consultants as medical professionals “who are seen as pushing breastfeeding by any means necessary.”

As a lactation consultant, it is important to remember how often mothers feel like failures when they are unable to breastfeed. Telling them to “try harder” won’t motivate them, especially when they think that they are trying as hard as they can.

nine-roles-of-a-lactation-consultantThe following are the nine roles of a lactation consultant as defined by the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA).


  • The IBCLC is the advocate for breastfeed¬ing women, infants, children, families, and communities (IBLCE, 2003, 2008; ILCA, 2006). The IBCLC role is integral to the function of the mother’s and infant’s healthcare team.

Clinical Expert:

  • As a clinical expert in the management of breastfeeding and human lactation, the IBCLC is trained to counsel mothers and families on initiation, exclusivity, and duration of breastfeeding, and to assist amidst any difficul¬ties or high-risk situations. IBCLCs are sensitive to and support the needs of mothers, infants, children, and various family structures in working toward breastfeeding goals (IBLCE, 2003, 2008; ILCA, 2006).


  • Partnership is central to IBCLC practice. The IBCLC collaborates with mothers, infants, children, families, and communities to meet their breastfeeding and lactation needs. IBCLCs are members on healthcare teams that care for mothers, infants, and children. IBCLCs also collaborate with policy makers at all levels in various organizational settings, to implement evidence-based, practical, and economically sound lactation policies and programs (IBLCE, 2003, 2008; ILCA, 2006).


  • The IBCLC shares current, evidence-based infor-mation in breastfeeding and lactation to provide anticipato¬ry guidance, as well as to empower mothers and families to manage breastfeeding challenges if they arise. IBCLCs also provide staff and clinician education on the science of lacta¬tion and clinical management of breastfeeding. Therefore, the IBCLC is required to keep up-to-date with the science of clinical lactation via mandated recertification (IBLCE, 2003, 2008; ILCA, 2006).


  • The IBCLC is trained to facilitate breastfeeding mothers and families in reaching their breastfeeding and lac¬tation goals. IBCLCs facilitate program and policy develop¬ment to support breastfeeding and lactation.


  • The clinical expertise and skill of the IBCLC is in breastfeeding and lactation management. Thus, the IBCLC supports, directs, and participates in research and evidence-based practice that moves forward the body of empirical lactation knowledge (IBLCE, 2003, 2008; ILCA, 2006).

Policy Consultant:

  • The clinical expertise and practice experience of the IBCLC provides substantial insight into the viability of practice changes that affect lactation and breastfeeding initiatives (IBLCE, 2003, 2008; ILCA, 2006). In light of the strong evidence to support the health and economic benefits of breastfeeding, the IBCLC is well-posi¬tioned to be the primary consultant for any institutional or legislative initiatives that influence breastfeeding, breastfeed¬ing mothers, families, and communities.


  • The IBCLC is a healthcare professional with a multi-disciplinary role that straddles generalized support for breastfeeding, and allied health care. As a professional cadre, IBCLCs are guided in practice by a set of standards, a code of ethics, and a defined scope of practice. These regula¬tions are aimed at protecting the public and ensuring that IBCLCs provide safe care. Standardization of specialized knowledge and skill is accomplished through one interna¬tionally administered exam and movement towards ap¬proved or accredited collegiate-based educational programs (IBLCE, 2003, 2008; ILCA, 2006).


  • The IBCLC is trained to promote breastfeeding, i.e., carry out activities to increase interest in breastfeeding and breastfeeding support. IBCLCs support breastfeeding and lactation by providing skilled support for mothers in their breastfeeding journey. The presence of an IBCLC sends the message that breastfeeding is supported in that setting (IBLCE, 2003, 2008; ILCA, 2006). Often accreditation bodies that endorse institutions as breastfeeding friendly will assess the availability of an IBCLC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2011; IBCLC Care Award, 2011; National Immunization Survey, 2010; United States Breastfeeding Committee, 2010).