Breastfeeding is more than a child suckling at the breast.
The current international breastfeeding symbol only shows a child nursing at the breast.
The Universal Breastfeeding Symbol recognizes that there are more ways to chest- or breastfeed. For example, research* shows that the vast majority of breastfeeders express milk at some point, so why doesn’t the current symbol include this?
Why might a lactating person not nurse a child at the chest or breast?
They might be:
- Temporarily separated from their child, for example at work, at school, or on a trip (or expressing milk in anticipation of being away from their child).
- Exclusively pumping because of issues with nursing, their child is in the NICU, they were a gestational surrogate, or they simply chose to.
- Maintaining their milk supply while working on getting their child to latch.
- Relieving or stimulating an oversupply so as to store or donate milk.
- Stimulating more milk supply in the case of undersupply.
- Inducing lactation prior to welcoming a non-gestational child into their family or to restart human milk feeding of their own child.
- Permanently separated from their child, for example due to a custody dispute, incarceration, or because they are unable to care for their child.
- Expressing their milk after the loss of a child, also known as grief pumping.
- Taking medication that is unsafe for their child and need to express their milk until it is safe again.
This led me to developing the Universal Breastfeeding Symbol, which depicts both nursing and the most common form of milk expression, a breast pump.
Exclusive pumper? Grief pumper? There are symbols for that too! Head to www.breastfeedingsymbols.com.
* 98% of all respondents had expressed milk: Clemons, S. N., & Amir, L. H. (2010). Breastfeeding women’s experience of expressing: A descriptive study. Journal of Human Lactation, 26(3), 258–265. http://doi.org/10.1177/0890334410371209
85% of respondents had expressed milk by 6 months: Johns, H. M., Amir, L. H., McLachlan, H. L., & Forster, D. A. (2016). Breast pump use amongst mothers of healthy term infants in Melbourne, Australia: A prospective cohort study. Midwifery, 33, 82–89. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.midw.2015.10.009