Robert Cornegy opens breast-feeding station

Finally! A safe place to breastfeed

Lighten the load: Holly Dang of Bedford-Stuyvesant holds her 3-month-old daughter Nova at the ribbon-cutting of the new lactation station.
The Brooklyn Paper
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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].

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Reference to public bathrooms as acceptable places to breastfeed removed.
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Reasonable discourse

Jim from Cobble Hill says:
This is a good thing, but please tell me that we're not actually calling these spaces ..."lactation stations" that's so ineffectual 1980's-tastic PSA message-esque.
May 21, 2014, 11:22 am
lucy from fort greene says:
The attitude of this reporter shows the need for more education in the general population. "Whip their breasts out" "au naturel nursing " are just plain dumb. Is there some other kind of nursing that is not natural? No one whips her breast out. She will pull the baby to the breast and I assure you that you would have to look very hard to see any exposed breast. If you want to see breast, check out the Victoria Secret adds. Anyone who does not want to see a woman breastfeed merely has to turn his or her head around.
May 21, 2014, 2:12 pm
Em from Clinton Hill says:
Sadly, that second paragraph shows clearly how much work lies ahead of us in normalizing breastfeeding. Germ-filled public bathrooms are not an acceptable place to breastfeed a child, nor have they ever been. Women in New York State have the right to breastfeed anywhere they are otherwise allowed to be, public or private, and are protected by state law. And "mommy dairy?" Really??? While I appreciate The Brooklyn Paper covering such an important event, Mr. Perlman could benefit from some time around breastfeeding women. Maybe then he'd realize what they're doing is lovingly nurturing and feeding their babies, rather than simply "whipping their breasts out."
May 21, 2014, 2:18 pm
mip from CownTown says:
Where's John Wasserman when you need him?!
May 22, 2014, 4:40 pm
jeanwheels from Bay Ridge says:
I am appalled by the juvenile language used by the reporter but encouraged by the nursing station offered by the politician. It is the law now that women in NY can publicly breastfeed but when I nursed my children in the 70's, it wasn't. I remember having to nurse in bathrooms. One time I got kicked out of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's restaurant for nursing my infant and told to use the bathroom. I protested and they escalated it.
May 22, 2014, 5:59 pm
Lori Jill Isenstadt, IBCLC from State of Arizona says:
Juvenile language indeed and yet sometimes it takes this and a sense of humor to make people pay attention. Let people call it what they want, so when he says whip out their breast, fine, let him use this language. I would rather this, than distract from what the real message here is. Which is: Hooray for the politicians and policy makers and people of this District to care enough about mothers and babies to take action and actually make something happen that is going to help further the cause. Telling moms that breastfeeding is the best food for your baby, in one ear, and making it as difficult as possible for them to accomplish this goal, helps noone. Announcing that you are opening up a lactation station is fine in my book as long as you are doing it! Who cares what it is called! Mothers don't. They just want a nice, quiet, clean and private place to sit and feed their babies. Of course, I look forward to the time when we don't have to purposefully have any specific place for moms to feed their baby in privacy. I look forward to the time where it is publicly accepted for moms to breastfeed their baby anywhere and anytime their precious baby is hungry.
July 28, 2016, 11:23 am

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