Skip to main content
Sahira Long's picture

As a physician, I have had many opportunities to see how important the support I provide is to mothers' feeding decision.  I deal with many women for whom public nursing is difficult because of the disapproving looks and comments they receive.  From letting them know of their rights to breastfeed anywhere, to sharing some of my own experiences nursing my children in public, to showing them ways they can nurse discretely while in the waiting room or any  public place, I have worked to help these mothers overcome  barriers to breastfeeding.  It was heart-warming to hear of a mom who remembered a comment I made during our first visit about how much more confident I was about public nursing with my last-born child when her 2 month old needed to eat while they were at church.  She related that she thought, "If Dr. Long says I'm not breaking any laws, I'm going to feed my baby if he's hungry regardless of what others think."  Before our talk, she was  giving bottles while in public.

With the proven impact that maternity care practices have upon infant feeding decisions, I'm always astonished to come across mothers who have made it through an entire pregnancy with no recall of anyone in the health care field recommending breastfeeding.  As a pediatrician, I often see patients for their first visit well after the feeding routines have been established, sometimes the encouragement provided to consider breastfeeding seems to fall on deaf ears.  I often realize just how much weight my words carry with the families I serve when that same mother announces with a subsequent pregnancy that she intends to at least make an attempt at nursing and requests my help in overcoming any challenges she may face.  Sometimes, letting a mother know it's not too late to give breastfeeding a try is all that's needed.  Just this week, I had the pleasure of witnessing a 3 week old baby latch successfully for the first time in my office.  His mother had only considered breastfeeding after leaving the birthing facility a week after his birth which came 8 weeks prior to his due date.  She was elated to hear audible swallowing and see how content her son was after nursing since she expected that her milk supply was "dried up."

My own experiences remind me that each  of us --physicians, grandparents, friends, neighbors, employers-- in our own ways can powerfully support mothers who decide to breastfeed by offering encouragement, support and personal stories that help women overcome barriers they may face.


The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of strongly encourages our readers to post comments in response to blog posts. We value diversity of opinions and perspectives. Our goals for this space are to be educational, thought-provoking, and respectful. So we actively moderate comments and we reserve the right to edit or remove comments that undermine these goals. Thanks!