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Yay for the Portland, Oregon Zoo!

We went to the Oregon Zoo recently. I've nursed there before, in a covered area by one of the food stalls, and no one paid any mind to it good or ill.

But this time my husband grabbed one of the maps (which I don't bother with, I know the layout well enough without it!). And I learned something I hadn't known - they have two designated outside nursing areas. They share two traits - they have seating and they have a roof over them (but no walls), so you won't get soaked if it starts raining.

One is over by the Asian elephants, in a corner relatively few people pass by and fewer still step into, so it's fairly private (plus there's no other good covered area really close by, so it's a welcome respite). It faces a viewing port for the elephants, so you can watch them while nursing. (I'd never even seen this viewing area before, but DH and I walked over to check out the nursing area. Where I ended up sitting down and nursing DS, who started fussing. You'd think he already recognized the international breastfeeding symbol...hee.)

The other is near Pacific Shores, at the joining of two paths - three if you count the exit from Pacific Shores which is also the only way for wheelchairs/strollers to get quickly from the entrance to the exhibits on that side, it's the short ramp. It's also right next to / part of the same structure as a covered play area for older-but-still-little children. So they're not trying to hide it away, though there are places in there that you could hide a little if you wanted.

And printed neatly in the notices portion of the map is this gem: "Nursing mothers may ask zoo staff to
accommodate their request for privacy."

I love that they make it clear that it's possible to get a spot to nurse privately, but very clearly if the mother wants it, not an expectation on their part. I LOVE THIS.

(If anyone really wants to see it, the pdf of the map is here with all those details; the simple image on their web site doesn't have the key.)

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
kinsey_six
Feb. 13th, 2010 01:05 pm (UTC)
that's awesome! i also really like the wording on the sign, so it's not in a way that sounds like they expect you to hide.
becoming_mother
Feb. 13th, 2010 03:07 pm (UTC)
Yes! I felt that it was very supportive of any breastfeeding mother. So lovely to see it done right.
ext_224921
Feb. 13th, 2010 02:36 pm (UTC)
Nursing Acceptance
So cool that this zoo takes the rare attitude that nursing might be a big part of a large portion of their clientele... parents!
As more of us get out and nurse in our daily lives, I hope that attitude will become more common.
I remember my cousin said she felt stuck at home the 5-6 months she nursed. I felt the opposite- I took baby everywhere and nursed in many places. She told me this before I had my baby, so I never thought to ask why she felt she had to stay home to breastfeed. I understand that not everyone is comfortable nursing in front of others, especially if you are not comfortable in your post-baby body, or in your body at all. Also, if nursing is difficult, like for my friend who got an early nursing injury and then her baby got used to the nursing shield (which then caused decreased supply and a fussy baby), then you might not want others to see you nurse.
But for many people, breastfeeding is easy, and it's the "hide it" attitude of others that cause the problem.
becoming_mother
Feb. 13th, 2010 03:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Nursing Acceptance
I was mostly stuck at home for the first 4-5 months of my nursing relationship, because of a nipple shield. A good nursing relationship can go anywhere, but if you end up with latch problems requiring equipment to solve, it can be MISERABLE to go out. When we had to take DS to appointments, we would take a bottle of EBM and I'd pump later. (Many thanks to a couple hospitals for helping trigger nipple preference and latch issues. Thanks to that, to get him to breastfeed for the first 4-5 months required a nipple shield. And a breastfeeding pillow because I needed a hand free to catch the shield if he knocked it off.... It was like being a three-ring circus. To do it while out and about would have been embarrassing - not the typical short exposure of an easily-fed baby, but an ongoing production that would draw every eye to my nipple while I fitted a shield over it - if it was even legal. AND if DS got the shield off and pitched it and I didn't catch it...I'd rather have it land on my relatively clean floor than the ground at some random public location. Of course I had extras about and used them, but still...eww.

He ditched the nipple shield around 5 months and suddenly I understood what everyone meant when they talked about the convenience of breastfeeding. I mean, intellectually I had understood it before, but in some of those months it seemed like it would never apply to us. It was so freeing to get rid of that darned thing. And for the most part, I haven't encountered the "hide it" attitude - I am so glad. But I also haven't encountered as many blatantly-supportive institutions (other than medical ones, and even some of those) as the zoo.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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