Scroll down for 19 great places to nurse in the Puget Sound area!
Sometimes, it’s the little things that count. If you’re a new mom just finding your way with breastfeeding, it can make your whole day to find the perfect spot to nurse when you’re out with Baby. And for questions, problems, and a feeling of community and connection, finding a wonderful breastfeeding support group or lactation consultant can mean a lot.
Our region boasts a rich breastfeeding support community. Here’s a guide to getting started — and getting around — with breastfeeding.
At first, it can be hard to know who to turn to for help with breastfeeding. Friends and family may chime in, but everyone’s experience is so unique that you can come away more confused than before. There are places that offer how-to advice along with assistance in overcoming some of nursing’s biggest challenges, such as poor latching or inverted nipples.
The importance of getting breastfeeding support from community resources cannot be overstated. A 1991 study published in the Human Lactation Journal shows that home visits that deal with the new mothers’ concerns with breastfeeding assist with problem solving and involve family members in support can be very effective.
For instance, Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland offers free access to its lactation support help line 24 hours a day (425-899-3494). Services are available to all breastfeeding mothers, regardless of whether or not they gave birth at Evergreen. Evergreen's Breastfeeding Center is an outpatient clinic that features private exam rooms for consultations with breastfeeding moms and their families. Check to see if your visit will be covered by insurance; most insurance companies will deny the claim or put up a tireless fight. Evergreen also houses a retail store that features breastfeeding supplies, including a Lactina breast pump rental station and professional nursing-bra fitting.
The Community Birth and Family Center in Seattle also offers free telephone consultations seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (206-615-8078). In-home visits by a certified lactation consultant are available for $150, and in-clinic consultations are available for $90. According to Barbara Orcutt, R.N., M.N., coordinator of breastfeeding services, the First Weeks class offered Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons from noon to 2 p.m. is an excellent place to start for new moms. This class is on a drop-in basis and is supported by donation only. No registration is required.
Another resource that has a long history of helping mothers all over the world with breastfeeding support and advice is the La Leche League. Monthly meetings are hosted all over the Puget Sound region for nursing mothers at all stages of breastfeeding. According to Steffi Flath, librarian for the Sammamish group, topics discussed at monthly meetings include early challenges, nutrition and weaning, advantages of breastfeeding, the breastfed baby and the family, places to nurse, how to nurse and conceal, frustrations, positive things associated with nursing (such as dads’ involvement and support) and attachment with baby. “I have had moms say that if it weren’t for the support from the mothers in LLL, they wouldn’t have nursed as long as they did,” says Flath, who nursed her son, Matthew, for 18 months and is currently nursing her daughter, Grace.
For moms looking for a group to meet with to share breastfeeding stories and wisdom, the Seattle chapter of Attachment Parenting International offers a “Breastfeeding Café” on the fourth Monday of the month from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (location varies). This meeting is based on the book The Breastfeeding Café by Barbara L. Behrmann. It’s a time for support and also for breastfeeding in public so the whole community can benefit from seeing mothers nurse their babies. The group is currently setting up a support group for nursing adoptive mothers.
Seattle’s Gracewinds Perinatal provides support to mothers at all stages of their parenting “adventure,” from a class called “Breastfeeding Basics” to in-home services by certified lactation consultants. A division of Gracewinds, the PeaPod Book and Birth Store in Seattle offers many breastfeeding supplies.
On the Eastside, Overlake Hospital’s Women’s Services (425-688-5516) also provides support for breastfeeding mothers through board-certified lactation consultants.
Medela’s offers free online support from a lactation consultant.
Once you’ve gotten into a breastfeeding routine with your baby, getting out gets a whole lot easier — a major plus if you’ve got other kids at home. Soccer games and school plays do not stand still for breastfeeding.
Date nights also are very important for the new mother and her partner. If you’re bringing Baby along, consider finding a restaurant that supports breastfeeding moms. Seattle moms rave about Ray’s Boathouse. “They are generally one of the most kid-friendly nice restaurants in Seattle,” said Heather Correa, owner of Wobee blankets and mother of two. Correa used to work at Ray’s, where she said that employees are fully supported in their nursing efforts. This comes from the top down; the manager, Carol Anne Lee, nursed her own two children when they were babies. “The whole philosophy of Ray’s supports a family environment,” says Lee. She says that the design of the dining room lends itself as being a terrific place to nurse.
There are seven booths along the back wall that are elevated, providing privacy along with a breathtaking view.
Another place that can be a fun outing especially for mothers toting older children along is the Woodland Park Zoo. The zoo’s grounds have always been a wonderful place to lay down a blanket and let your little one nurse, but now its Zoomazium takes breastfeeding comfortably to another level. Giant, comfy chairs are tucked away yet still in view for monitoring your older child’s whereabouts. See sidebar for more great places to breastfeed in our area.
Getting back to work
If you’re going back to work, it helps to have a boss who gets it. Some employers are really catching on to the importance of keeping moms nursing and happy at work; they’re making it comfortable and easy to go back to work and continue breastfeeding. For instance BabyLegs, a Seattle-based baby clothing company, fully supports its breastfeeding mothers, allowing them to bring their babies to work and nurse in the office and during meetings.
BabyLegs’ owner, Nicole Donnely, welcomes mothers to use her office and its big, comfortable chairs to breastfeed. Donnely says that before becoming a business owner, she had read about a company that allowed its employees to bring their children to work and she definitely wanted to do the same thing. She says that whether it’s a mother nursing her baby, changing a diaper or putting her child down to nap, on any given day at BabyLegs, it’s just normal parenting stuff going on.
“Moms can be very loyal assets. Loyalty is the prime benefit to the business,” Donnely says. “With the flexible hours, we often work late when the children are sleeping and it is OK to take time off during the day to do what needs to be done, including attending preschool co-ops and playgroups.”
Of course, not every business is as baby-friendly as BabyLegs, but as you chart your breastfeeding future, consider talking to your boss or HR representative about your options. You may be surprised to find a very supportive reaction.
Supporting each other
Sometimes, the biggest support to nursing moms can be other moms, whether nursing now or in the past, or men whose partners nursed. Every woman’s experience is different, but she does not need to embark on the nursing journey alone; and most of all, having a supportive partner can make a world of difference. Whether you are a new mother, an experienced nursing mother of a toddler, or a mother who recalls fondly her nursing days, remember how it felt. Maybe you will have the opportunity to help another mother some day, whether it’s helping her find a place to nurse in your office or changing seats on an airplane so she can have a little extra room. She surely will be grateful.
Karen Dawson, owner and principal of Dawson Communications Group, lives in Maple Valley with her husband and children. She is currently nursing her 11-month-old son.
• How My Breasts Saved the World: Misadventures of a Nursing Mother by Lisa Wood Shapiro
• Dr. Mom’s Guide to Breastfeeding by Marianne Neifert, M.D.
• Bestfeeding: Getting Breastfeeding Right for You by Mary Renfrew, Chloe Fisher and Suzanne Arms
• Nursing Mother, Working Mother by Gayle Pryor and Kathleen Huggins, R.N., M.S.
• The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins, R.N., M.S.
• Breastfeeding.com Information and resources.
• Breastfeeding Café A site devoted to childbirth, breastfeeding and mothering.
• Mothering A magazine about natural family living with articles and community-generated content on the topic of breastfeeding.
• Lactations.com Daily information for the nursing mother.
• Kellymom Support and information for the nursing mother.
Best places to nurse
1. Ray’s Boathouse Seven elevated booths provide an excellent view in addition to privacy.
2. Tully’s on Alki Deep, comfy chairs provide just the spot to feed baby and allow mom to visit with a friend and enjoy a decaf latte.
3. Woodland Park Zoo The new Zoomazium is fabulous and has giant chairs tucked away where you can still view older children and nurse at the same time. Also, there are lots of benches and open meadows to plop down and feed baby comfortably.
4. Fresh Flours on Phinney Ridge A few plush chairs around the corner in a quiet nook make a fantastic place for a baby to snack.
5. 8 Limbs Yoga Nursing is encouraged and totally supported at this yoga studio, so moms needn’t be worried about taking a break for baby to fill up.
6. Starbucks at University Village A couple of tables in the back provide a little bit of privacy without being cut off from the view.
7. Seattle Art Museum Sculpture Park The park offers great scenery while your baby snacks.
On the Eastside:
1. Lakemont Starbucks Comfortable chairs by the fireplace in addition to seating options tucked around a corner from the main store provide two great places to nurse and stay awhile.
2. Nordstrom lounge, Bellevue Square This is a hot spot for new moms.
3. Macy’s lounge, Bellevue Square This spot is convenient and offers lots of company from other mothers.
4. Main floor ladies’ restroom and lounge, Bellevue Square
This space is quiet and tucked away from the main restroom. There are typically three or four mothers in there either breastfeeding or bottle feeding, so it’s a great place to meet people and chit-chat.
5. Maple Valley library Comfy seating tucked in a corner of the children’s section that face giant windows with big trees to look at and be swept away. There’s enough room for an older child to cuddle up with you and listen to a story while baby nurses. All King County libraries seem to be quite nursing-friendly.
6. Yoga Centers Mommy and Me Yoga Class this class welcomes nursing moms and their babes. Moms can do the yoga pose, stop and nurse, and get right back into the swing of things.
7. Kid’s Club, Crossroads Has a nursing/changing room complete with rocking chair and stocked changing station.
In the south Sound:
1. Traditions Café, Olympia With kid-friendly food, and toys for siblings to play with nearby while moms visit and nurse.
2. Batdorf & Bronson, downtown Olympia Comfy chairs and a relaxed atmosphere.
3. Westfield Capital Mall, Olympia Has a family lounge where shoppers can relax and use private nursing stations, baby changing stations, bottle warmers, child-sized bathroom and sink facilities, microwave, and a rest area featuring children’s entertainment. The family lounge is located in the Food Court.
4. The Post Exchange at Ft. Lewis and McChord Air Force Base Both have a mothers’ room with comfortable rocking chairs for relaxing and nursing and they are decorated like nurseries. Open to military and their families only.
5. Nordstrom’s lounge, Tacoma Mall A mom-approved standby.
Originally published in the September, 2007 print edition of ParentMap.