The mall office of a Bedford-Stuyvesant politician might not be the first place breastfeeding moms think to go when nature suckles — and the pol wants that to change.
Freshman Councilman Robert Cornegy (D–Bedford-Stuyvesant) opened Brooklyn’s first public lactation station on Tuesday, saying that the stigmatization of public nursing ought to stop, but in the meantime, the more places for new moms to whip their breasts out the better.
“As the parents of six, my wife and I understand how difficult it is to find a clean and comfortable place to nurse a child in Brooklyn,” said Cornegy. “We also know the judgment many new mothers feel while trying to care for their son or daughter when in public.”
The station in Cornegy’s Fulton Street office at the Restoration Plaza shopping and office center includes some psychiatrist-office-esque brown chairs, pamphlets on breastfeeding, and most importantly, privacy. The room also doubles as a mommy dairy, offering a breast pump to extract milk and a refrigerator to store it in for patrons who need to, say, finish up the day’s shopping before ferrying the precious liquid home.
The space is important, say supporters who came out for the morning ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“Breastfeeding is really hard for me,” said Holly Dang, holding her 3-month-old outside of Cornegy’s office. “It’s hard to be the only one doing it.”
The method is recognized as the healthiest way to nourish a newborn child. It helps build babies’ immune systems and makes them less susceptible to diseases such as diabetes and asthma, according to the health department. The agency encourages new mothers to nurse through initiatives such as a hospital-based education program called “Latch On.” And it says providing more places for women to do their maternal business is an important part of making the programs stick.
“Everyone understands that breast is best,” said Sharon Marshall-Taylor, program manager for a Department of Health program called “The Breastfeeding Empowerment Zone.” “But how do we help women make a real choice? We need to make accommodations for them.”
Marshall-Taylor’s campaign focuses on raising awareness about breastfeeding in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Brownsville, two communities she said have low levels of the practice. They also have bad health overall, which is not a coincidence, she said.
“Overall they have poor health outcomes, which can be mitigated by feeding newborns breast milk from the start,” she said.
The $3,000 the lactation station cost to set up came from the IM Foundation, an organization run out of Interfaith Medical Center that promotes public health.
The launch of the station coincided with a breastfeeding fair outside Cornegy’s office. The event gathered nursing experts and healthcare workers to give out information about nursing and mom support services.
Public breastfeeeding station at Councilman Robert Cornegy’s office in Restoration Plaza [1360 Fulton St., Ste. 500 at New York Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, (718) 919–0740].