Public Toilet – Breast Feeding

“I support breastfeeding…but…I don’t need to see it.”

I’ll be honest, it’s hard for me to hold back on the expletives when this phrase (and so many others like it) get thrown around with utter disregard for the impact that they have.  These words used to hit me square in the gut, but now, two and a half years into our breastfeeding journey, I can see the ignorance, mis-education and selfishness that comments like this rest within.

But as a new mother…it wasn’t quite so clear-cut…

I remember sitting, squashed and repulsed, as I fed baby bean in the tiny and disgusting toilet cubicle. I remember blinking back the tears as I searched within myself for the strength to throw a smiling, two-finger salute to anybody who thought that this was an appropriate place to feed my child.  Now, I will nurse anywhere, but I didn’t come to realise the power of my mama-stripes overnight.  I had to see the gutter to make the choice to leave it.  To make a stand; proud and determined that my daughter and I deserved more.


More than germ-infested public restrooms.

More than a square-inch within which to move.

More than the smell of other people’s faeces when feeding and nurturing my innocent bundle of love.


This is a great advertisement by the University of North Texas featuring inspiring Mama, Monica Young. The campaign promotes the passage of law HB 1706; which protect mothers from breastfeeding harassment.

I’m sure that most people would agree, but here’s the clincher: without fully accepting breastfeeding, many mothers will inevitably feel condemned to feed their babies in public bathrooms.  Hidden from and shamed by society.  Without opening our eyes and seeing what this actually looks lie in practice, I guess ignorance remains…

Introducing our visual saviours…our eye-openers…

A group of students at the University of North Texas designed an ad campaign to promote the pass of law HB1706; to protect mothers from harassment. These posters (see main picture) will be placed on the inside of every stall at the University to promote public awareness of the need to openly encourage breastfeeding acceptance…with no “But”.

The graphic design students approached Monica Young, 21, to be the face of this campaign.  Monica told me;  “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be a part of this campaign.  I’ve heard more disturbing comments and received so many displeasing glances in the last four months than I have had my entire life!  I would love to nurse my son without putting my head down and since sitting for these pictures, I’ve proudly nursed wherever I please.  This project has inspired many people, but especially myself!”

My hope is that the storm raised by this campaign will open more hearts and eyes to the normalcy of breastfeeding, and with thousands of “likes” so far, this movement will surely only gain momentum.

Imagine fuelling this movement with a new, un-caveated mantra: “I support breastfeeding”.  And let’s leave it at that.


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Young Dads

Young dads can be great fathers. You are young, fun, and have lots of energy (sometimes). This is a great time to get involved in your child’s life. You can support your baby’s mother emotionally throughout the pregnancy, perhaps attend prenatal classes or Dr. appointments if she would like you to be there. There are a lot of ways you can be part of this baby’s life.

  • Go to prenatal classes with your child’s mother
  • Attend Dr. appointments
  • Join your child’s mother in making healthy choices
    (quit smoking, eat well, etc)
  • Share financial responsibility

Once your baby is born, there are many different ways to be a father to your child. No one way is better than the others. They all contribute to the development and well-being of your child. Like most things in life, it is normal to be nervous at first, but it gets easier with practice. Take this quiz to examine the different ways you can be a dad to your child.


What Type of Dad Will You Be?

Check which applies to you…then read underneath about what type of father a child needs. (Adapted from Involved Fathers) This will probably give you ‘food for thought’ about some things you may never have considered were important in the life of a child. Your relationship with your own father may influence how you see yourself as a Dad.

I can…

  • Provide food for my child
  • Provide clothing for my child
  • Provide shelter for my child
  • Contribute financially

Provider Father

This used to be the traditional role of the father. Nowadays, many mothers as well as fathers provide financially for their children. Working at any job helps contribute to the family’s economic well-being.

I can…

  • Be around my child often
  • Play with my child
  • Demonstrate values in my culture to my baby
  • Expose my child to my religion
  • Allow my child the opportunity to interact with others
  • Help my child see others interacting around them


Interactive Father

Kids learn communication skills, social rules and values by interacting with their parents and by watching their parents interact with others. They need to be played with, talked to and made a part of our world.

I can…

  • Hold my child
  • Comfort my child when he/she is crying
  • Change diapers and give baths
  • Help feed my child


Nurturing Father

Babies need to be held, stroked and touched in order to develop normally. You are helping them feel good on the inside and develop normally when you do all the things listed above.

I can…

  • Hug my child
  • Smile and make faces with my child
  • Kiss my child
  • Reassure my child when he/she is upset


Affectionate Father

You are your child’s first relationship, it is important to fill this relationship with love and warmth. Warmth is also expressed in the way in which you talk to your children and play with them.

I can…

  • Provide a safe home
  • Help supervise my child
  • Get my child to the appropriate medical care when needed
  • Foster my child’s interest in the world


Responsible Father

You are your child’s first teachers. Protecting and teaching shows guidance on what to do and what not to do.

I can…

  • Think of my child when I am away from him/her
  • Talk about my child with friends and family
  • Show commitment through my words
  • Show I will always be available to my child through different gestures.


Committed Father

Kids need to know that they belong and are important to you. No matter what you may be doing, you are always aware you are a father.



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A Mom is Born

When a baby is born, so is a mom, metaphorically speaking. You are gifted the title of Mom and with the title comes a new name, job, role, and position. The list is endless and the importance is infinite with this new role and a new responsibility. How you grow into motherhood is different for everyone. You see that little bundle of potential and you’re a mix of emotions. Just as baby is growing, so are you – into the role of a lifetime.

Babies need love, affection, physical touch and attention to their needs and wants. They need to hear your voice and feel your presence. And you do too! Attachment for both of you comes from those moments over and over, repeated again and again. To cuddle and snuggle, to feed and change, to get up every few hours and make sure baby is ok and baby wakes up to feed and check in on you and make sure you are still there. They need you. You are their world, their protector and their guide. You make food appear, uncomfortable gas disappear and dirty diapers be-gone.

Yes, you will have stressful times. Yes, you will have sad times. Yes you will have times that stretch your sanity beyond what you thought was possible, but you will also have wonderful, happy, loving, bonding moments that are so heart and soul filling you might just want to burst. And it doesn’t stop. Your Mommy role is fluid like the ocean. You will continue to bond and grow as a mother and a child and as a unit of love and trust.

So, just like a newborn babe, you are a newborn Mom. Allow yourself the same compassion, support, love and patience you give your little one because you are both beginning this journey as mother and child together.  At every stage your little one grows and develops, so do you. Enjoy this journey of a lifetime, together.

Body Modifications and Breastfeeding

Body Modifications are a group of practices that include branding, scarification, tattooing, piercing, and other body art.  Body modifications have been around nearly as long as breastfeeding. Archaeologists, historians and body art practitioners note that tattooing and body piercing have been performed, in one form or another, worldwide for over 5000 years. However, within the last 20-30 years body modifications have experienced an explosion in popularity, with people both young and old getting body mods of various types.  More than 20 million Americans, half of whom are women, have one or more tattoos and up to 30% have piercings, and many have both (DeBoer, Seaver, Angel, & Armstrong, 2008).  This surge in body modifications shows no signs of slowing down in the near future.

Many women today get tattoos and piercings as a form of self-expression or to commemorate a special occasion or life event (Caliendo, Armstrong, & Roberts, 2005).  For whatever reason, women today have or are getting body modifications in greater numbers at the same time that many are also becoming mothers.  Along with the rise in body modifications, breastfeeding has seen resurgence in popularity as well.  With breastfeeding rates climbing worldwide it is not surprising that many new mothers, who either have body modifications or who may be contemplating them in the future, might have questions as to the safety of breastfeeding. So what’s a hip, tattooed or pierced and breastfeeding (or soon-to-be) mom to do then?  Is there breastfeeding during or after tattooing and nipple piercings?

Nipple piercings, while a favorite among body mod fans, require patience and are not without risk.  Nipple piercings can take up to a full year to heal completely, with infections and rejections the most common problems. If you are contemplating getting your nipples pierced and also want to have a baby, it is best if you plan the piercing at least 12-18 months before you plan to get pregnant. This allows the piercing time to heal and create a fistula, or channel, before the bodily and hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy occur.  It also will allow for removal of the jewelry during breastfeeding without the worry of the channel closing up. The nipple(s) must have time to heal and cannot have any saliva enter the open wound and the jewelry must stay in place during the healing period, something that is next to impossible to achieve with a young baby to feed frequently.

Many women who already have nipple piercings are concerned about their ability to breastfeed in the future. Breastfeeding is not generally affected by established nipple piercings.  Human nipples have between 8-12 nipple pores therefore it is unlikely that a well-healed piercing will block all of the pores.  However, there has been some recent research pointing to a few reported cases of abnormal milk production in women with nipple piercings due to possible duct obstruction (Garbin, Deacon, Rowan, Hartmann, & Geddes, 2009).  Often women find that when they do remove their jewelry for a feeding that milk leaks out the piercing, this can be problematic if the flow is too fast for your infant.  Be proactive about preventing or reducing any engorgement and be on the lookout for blocked ducts or mastitis, all of which may be exacerbated by nipple piercings (Armstrong, Caliendo, & Roberts, 2006).  It is best to remove your jewelry for each feeding, to reduce the risk of your baby aspirating or choking, although some women do nurse with flexible PTFE barbells in place (Angel, 2009).  Removing your jewelry also reduces the risk of latching-on problems, damage to the inside of your baby’s mouth or the passing of bacteria from the jewelry to your baby.  If you chose to keep your jewelry out permanently until your baby is weaned, be aware that even a fully healed piercing may close and some women have noticed nipple pain in a previously pierced nipple while nursing (Wilson-Clay & Hoover, 2005).  You can keep the piercing open by inserting an insertion taper on a regular basis.  If the channel closes completely wait at least three months post-weaning before re-piercing  (Armstrong, Caliendo, & Roberts, 2006).  If you face any problems with breastfeeding be sure to contact your local LLL Leader or an IBCLC for help.  For problems with your piercing you should be seen by a qualified piercer.

Tattoos are a permanent form of artwork etched into the flesh and are not without risk as well.  As with piercings, local and systemic infections are the most prevalent risks of tattooing. Already present tattoos, on the breast or elsewhere, do not impact breastfeeding. The possibility of the ink migrating into the mother’s blood plasma and then into the milk-making cells of the breast, is next to impossible. It is however, possible to have allergic reactions to the tattoo inks, which are not regulated by the FDA (FDA, 2008).  Many, if not most, professional tattoo artists will not knowingly tattoo a woman who is currently breastfeeding or will actively discourage a new mother from doing so. It is felt that the body needs time to heal the tattoo and that is harder to do so when the body is producing milk, it also lessens the possibility of any infections from being passed on to the baby (Hudson, 2009).  A newborn baby is far more vulnerable to any possible changes in breastmilk than a nursing toddler.  Going to a professional tattoo shop following Universal Precautions also lessens the risk of any infection that might be acquired.

Tattoo Removal It is estimated that 20% of those who get tattoos later regret the decision and wish to have them removed (Armstrong, et al., 2008). Tattoo removal is now accomplished with the use of Q-switched lasers. The laser works by producing short pulses of intense light that passes through the skin to be absorbed by the tattoo pigment. The laser energy causes the tattoo pigment to fragment into smaller particles, which are picked up by the body’s immune system and filtered out. The particles are considered to big to pass into breastmilk.

Whether you are contemplating a tattoo or getting your nipples pierced it is very important that your tattoo artist or piercer follow Universal Precautions. Professional tattooists and piercers will follow all universal precautions such as sterilization of the tattoo machine and piercing implements using an autoclave, single-use inks, ink cups, gloves and needles, bagging of equipment to avoid cross contamination, thorough hand washing with disinfectant soap and the wearing of gloves when performing the tattoo or piercing (Armstrong, et al., 2006).  Any jewelry that is to be inserted should be kept sterile before insertions as well.  It is important to screen the tattooist and the shop carefully, checking with the local health department for local laws and regulations. Reputable body artists support regulations and legislation to keep their customers safe and to legitimize the profession.  The Association of Professional Piercers and the Association of Professional Tattooists both have a wealth of information on safe body modifications and what to look for in a practitioner.

So go ahead and make a statement with your piercings and tattoos, just follow the rules and make sure your piercer or tattoo artist does too.  Body art and breastfeeding are not mutually exclusive, and both are beautiful.


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Written by: Robyn Roche-Paull, BS, IBCLC, LLLL


Young Parent Outreach is a dynamic resource program providing services and support to young pregnant women, young moms and dads, and their children in the Greater Victoria area.

These services – provided by The Cridge Centre for the Family – are designed to give young pregnant women and young moms and dads the help and support network they need to have healthy babies and to be effective, successful parents. Whether it’s housing, income assistance, food back or dealing with child custody or substance abuse, The Cridge Young Parent Outreach program can help.