“There were a few occasions, and it wasn’t stated, but you could tell the vibes,” said Roskind, owner of Oasis Cafe in Carrboro’s Carr Mill Mall. “You felt a little weird. That was 20 years ago, it’s much better now.”
Chapel Hill and Carrboro residents will soon see local stores with signs welcoming breastfeeding mothers and information encouraging the practice of breastfeeding.
The towns are set to become two of the first cities in the country to receive the Breastfeeding-Family-Friendly City Designation.
“It’s a pilot for the world,” said Miriam Labbok, director of the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute and UNC professor of maternal and child health. “There has never been a city that set out to say ‘Hey, we welcome the family.’”
Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle announced their support for the Breastfeeding-Family-Friendly City Designation, led by the Carolina Breastfeeding Institute, on Aug. 6. The campaign is in conjunction with the United States Breastfeeding Committee’s National Breastfeeding Month in August.
“I think we’re really lucky in this community to have the support that we do of businesses and community spaces,” said Stephani Kilpatrick, residential services director for the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service, which is a supporter of the initiative. “But I think saying it straightforwardly that we are breastfeeding-family-friendly is important as far as encouraging it and normalizing it.”
North Carolina law states that women can breastfeed anywhere in public and private locations. The Affordable Care Act requires workplaces to provide break time for mothers to pump breast milk with suitable locations free from intrusion.
In order to earn the Breastfeeding-Family-Friendly City Designation, at least 50 percent of businesses must post “breastfeeding welcome here” signs on their windows. Local groceries also must not promote commercial brand baby formula by preferential placement in the stores or direct advertising.
Labbok, who has been involved in encouraging breastfeeding since the 1980s, said she doesn’t expect all stores to stop selling formula after the launch of the initiative because of the regulations regarding chain grocery stores such as Harris Teeter.
Roskind’s Oasis Cafe was chosen as the launch venue for the initiative on Aug. 10 due to the support he has shown for breastfeeding mothers. All breastfeeding mothers are given a free pot of tea when they visit.
Roskind said that a group of mothers would often visit and breastfeed in a corner of his cafe.
“I was pleased to have the actual town endorse it,” he said. “The best thing for a child is breast milk, but we’ve gotten so far away from it because of corporations and lifestyles that prevent mothers from breastfeeding.”