Saturday, June 14, 2003

Beware the BFMs


Moms: Lay off my lactation

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Forget about Supermom, Soccer Mom and Time magazine's latest invention, Security Mom.

The one you really don't want to cross is carrying a tube of lanolin in her diaper bag and wearing one heck of a bra. She is Breast-Feeding Mom, fiercest food source on the planet.

The city of Florence found this out in a hurry, when BFM Rebecca Drake happened to stroll into the city's new aquatic center last week.

"No public breast-feeding," said a list of rules in the pool's brochure.

Uh oh.

In the space of two days, Drake had e-mailed eight friends in a Florence mothers' club, all of whom were outraged. Several called the media. Within 24 hours, Drake was doing interviews, and one mom had agreed to demonstrate her technique on the 11 o'clock news.

"My attitude was like, 'Policy or no policy, if my baby is hungry, I'm feeding her,' " says Melissa Padgitt, who did the TV spot.

Right on, sister.

Rule dropped quickly

Florence officials weren't aware of the policy because they had left management of the pool up to a private company. When the moms roared, the rule was quickly dropped.

"I was really quite amazed," says Drake, who is expecting her second child in July. "I'm normally not somebody who likes to stand out in a crowd."

But there's something about nursing that brings out our inner she-lion. Anyone who's done it knows that being discreet is just as natural as nursing itself.

Padgitt says she positions her arm and her baby's head so none of her skin shows. Doing this poolside is far more sensible than hiding in a bathroom, because she has two other children to keep occupied at the same time.

"I have pushed a grocery cart and been nursing. I can remember doing it at the Olive Garden recently," Padgitt says. "You cannot tell I'm nursing.' "

So what's with rules against it? Clearly, the mere idea of breast-feeding must be what bothers some people.

What's the problem?

This is nonsense. The average bathing suit bears more flesh than a lactating woman.

More importantly, breast milk is the best nutrition possible for babies; even formula makers admit it. And a newborn's feeding schedule can't be controlled, so moms must be ready anywhere. Unfortunately, few public places provide chairs in discreet corners.

"I have filled out numerous comment cards," says Tammy Freeman, another BFM from Boone County. "If I can't find a place to nurse, I just jot it down and put it in their little box."

For several years, Kentucky state Rep. Tom Riner, D-Louisville, has sponsored legislation to promote breast-feeding. His proposal would permit public nursing in virtually any location, and businesses could proclaim themselves "breast-feeding friendly" if they provided several simple accommodations.

Riner's bill keeps getting stalled. Beware, General Assembly, of possible ambush by BFM.

E-mail kgutierrez@enquirer.com or call 859-578-5584.




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