Madeleine, April 10, 2013
To further understand what the public’s opinions and knowledge are outside of the Chittenden County WIC office, we tabled at the Davis Center on March 27th for two hours. I developed a quick, six-question survey and to entice community members to participate, I baked yummy vanilla cupcakes decorated to look like boobs, with light pink frosting for the fairer skinned and chocolate ganache frosting for a darker complexion. They were delicious and a huge hit! I will include the cupcake and beet and chocolate frosting recipe in another post.
Lori at the WIC office generously loaned us one of their lovely cutouts of women breastfeeding in public. The cutout—Saudia (yes she has a name!)—was another attention-grabber. On the table we had WIC flyers, magazines and comics on breastfeeding, pins and other infant/mother nutrition resources. It was also nice to be a resource alongside Nicole when passerby had questions about BF.
Results and Quotes
The questions were as follows:
1. Is breast milk more nutritious than formula? Yes or No
2. If you have had/plan on having children, have you/do you plan to breastfeed or want your partner to breastfeed? Yes or No
3. Do you believe a woman should be able to breastfeed in public? Why or why not?
4. Would you want to/want your partner to BF in public? Yes or No
5. How long do you think women usually breastfeed for?
6. What barriers do you think may exist to breastfeeding? Ex. Hyper-sexualization of breasts
We also had a gender and age clarification question. For question 1, all 45 participants said that breast milk is more nutritious. Question 3 had the greatest variation in response next to number 6. Of the total 45 participants, 25 were female, 4 unknown and 16 male.
88.9% of participants said that a woman should be able to BF in public. 60% female, 30% male and 10% unknown made up this statistic.
11.1% of participants said no, with 20% female and 80%
Some interesting responses from the males who said no…
“No. Can a man pee in public? Didn’t think so.” and “No, it is disturbing.”
And for the women in favor of public BF…
“Yes, it’s a human right!” “Yes! Absolutely! Our society is f***** if we cannot handle watching basic life processes happen.”
“Yes. A baby is hungry when it is hungry. Location should not matter. Everyone eats in public, why not babies too?”
-A majority said they would want to/want their partner to breastfeed in public. Many said they wouldn’t go out of their way to do it, but that when a baby needs to be fed, it needs to be fed regardless of the environment.
-It was a a recurring theme that those in favor of public BF suggested a woman be tasteful about it by covering up a bit.
-The average length of BF according to participants, falls between 2 months-3 years.
Problems with the Survey
Although we had a great turnout and some interesting results, there were a few problems. 1) There were not enough cupcakes! 2) Most of the participants were college aged and female 3) The survey did not take in account all the different partnerships that exist where breastfeeding may not be possible.
If I were to do this over given more time, I would have liked to distribute the surveys online via various campus listserves, to UVM staff and businesses/people downtown. If successful, it would have been a more realistic sample population of the Burlington community as well as include more women who have had experience with breastfeeding-related decisions.
Gibson & Jumper. Davis Center Tabling and Survey (March 27, 2013).