If approached by the media during a nurse-in, or in any situation about breastfeeding, there are some things you’re going to want to make sure you say, as well as some things you’d be better off skipping.
Choose a few sound bites and repeat them:
“It’s time to end the discrimination and social disapproval of moms for taking care of their babies.”
“Moms who overcome the breastfeeding barriers deserve cheers, not sneers.”
“Breastfeeding saves lives, and benefits all of us.”
“Nursing is normal, just like hugging or working out.”
Be clear about the group position and what you want to accomplish:
Make sure you have a very clear statement and goal among your group. Not only does this make you all look like a team if it’s at a group event, but even solo, having a good sound bite is super important and helps you keep on track.
For example, if doing legislation: “While we commend our state for having current breastfeeding legislation that states:__________ , we are concerned about the lack of enforcement for nursing rights afforded to women.”
Or in other situations: “This is not about just one mother; several women have come forth to say that they have been harassed for nursing in public at various locations all across our state.”
“Mothers are being harassed, humiliated and discriminated against for breastfeeding at restaurants, airports, etc. We need to have enforcement of the legal rights given to moms or bullies will continue to get away with being bullies.”
Know what you want nationally as well: Have an official statement for this as well, such as, “We need to pass the Breastfeeding Promotion Act because it would amend the Civil Rights Act and would protect breastfeeding mothers against discrimination” or “We need national level legislation to improve upon lactation issues that includes enforcement.”
Anticipate questions about you, your baby, your BF experience, and public nursing experiences. Think through ahead of time an answer to: Why am I doing this? Craft a succinct answer: “I’m here to support mother’s rights to feed their babies as they see fit.”
“I want our state to enact powerful legislation with teeth, national legislation with enforcement would be even better.”“I want corporations to implement Lactation Education Programs for their employees, and I want society to become normalized to nursing.”
“Just like wearing sunscreen and seatbelts, society needs to be educated about information concerning the benefits of breastfeeding.”
“By supporting breastfeeding, 13 billion dollars a year could be saved by breastfeeding alone.”
Anticipate press questions meant for prying into hot buttons:
Q: Do you use a cover when you nurse in public?
A: It’s immaterial. Mothers need to do what they are comfortable with, “Modesty” is not required by any law, some babies don’t tolerate being covered, and blankets interrupt the eye contact between mom and baby. That attachment is part of the benefit and beauty of nursing.
Q: Do you think formula feeding is wrong?
A: This is about our legal right to nurse in public as a result of our choice to breastfeed, not about a debate of formula vs breastmilk.
When Face-to-Face With Media
Introduce yourself to the reporter and state very simply your main objective. Smile, be polite, and stay calm. Project a reasoned, balanced approach. Don’t get too scientific in discussing breastfeeding benefits. Stick to a couple of “wow” facts, such as “Breastfeeding can cut deaths from SIDS by 30%”, “Breastmilk contains more undedicated stem cells than bone marrow.” Also stick to verified generalizations such as all health organizations urge breastfeeding, including the U.S. Surgeon General, and that breastfeeding benefits everyone.
If you get an obnoxious reporter, don’t get defensive. Try to understand where they are coming from or sympathize a little bit, then re-state your case “I can understand some people are not used to seeing moms breastfeed, but consider that people used to not be comfortable seeing women vote!”
Remember you don’t have to answer a question just because they asked it. You must control the conversation, not the reporter. If you don’t like the question they are asking you then ignore it and answer the question that you wish they would have asked you instead. It’s okay if you’re not comfortable talking to press to hand them off to someone who is with a simple, “Sarah Smith here would be more than willing to answer all of your questions!”
Set up Google alerts with your name so that you don’t miss any media coverage. Read them all and if you are misquoted then contact the ombudsman or whomever is in charge of corrections and make them change, edit, or write a retraction.
Check your privacy settings on Facebook, etc. and make sure none of your personal information is viewable to the public so that you don’t get oppositional phone calls or visits to your house or anything similar.