If you're a person who breastfeeds, chestfeeds, or pumps milk, and you're planning on going to the Women's March on Washington on Jan. 21, you may be wondering how to breastfeed at the Women's March. If you have one or more children with you while you march, they're definitely going to need nutrition throughout the day; and if you're not bringing any wee ones, you still might need to pump milk at some point. Luckily, there will be plenty of resources for people who chestfeed during the march.
The official Women's March website makes it clear that people are free to feed or pump during the march. This is pretty important, considering that the march is meant to be inclusive for all people, and excluding parents from the equation would be a pretty big missed opportunity.
Given that people who chestfeed in general are often criticized and judged for breastfeeding in public spaces (even though it is absolutely legal for them to do so), it's especially empowering to allow nursing parents to feed and pump in a public space that advocates for marginalized voices.
All of this said and done, you are likely concerned about the logistics of breastfeeding when there are expected to be more than 200,000 people marching in a large city. The bad news is that no one can predict exactly what will happen or how convenient anything will be in practice. The good news is that march organizers seem to be taking the issue very seriously, and there are already resources available to let you know how to prepare.
I've broken down the most important steps and resources below:
1. Bring Your Pump Equipment
If you are someone who pumps, you know you'll need to bring your equipment. Even if baby isn't in tow, you'll likely need to pump during the time you're at the march. Luckily, according to the FAQ of the official Women's March site, you can bring your pumping supplies. Unfortunately, you do need to use your limited bag space to fit it all in.
Here is how the FAQ breaks it down: "Backpacks are not permitted unless they are clear and no larger than 17"x12"x6" (colored transparent bags are not permitted). ... For marchers who have medical needs or for mothers who need baby bags or breast pumps, please ensure that your supplies fit into the above clear backpack. You can have one backpack per individual in your group, as long as they abide by the above guidelines."
If you're worried about space, I would try to coordinate bags with a friend or partner you're marching with, so you can make sure you have enough room to bring your own snacks, an extra sweater, and other marching essentials without leaving your pump equipment at home or in the car.
2. Locate Breastfeeding Stations Along Your Route
Whether you have your baby with you, or you need a place to stop and pump, you are likely well aware you want a quiet, safe, and peaceful spot to do so. The FAQ confirms that there will be lactation areas; a list of said areas is not currently available, but the website notes that this information will be shared soon. Keep checking the website, as well as their social media pages and app, for updates!
3. Map What Businesses & Other Locations Offer Facilities
If you stray from the march, there are tons of places nearby that will have areas where you can pump or chestfeed available. The above map, courtesy of BreastfeedingCenter.org, is an excellent resource to keep on hand, as it shows you not only designated centers, but also places with family restrooms that offer outlets and benches.
4. Remember Your Legal Rights
In D.C., you have the legal right to pump milk or breastfeed or chestfeed your child in any space — even in public spaces, should you choose to do so. Of course, given that people have a tendency to police breastfeeding, chestfeeding, and pumping, it's good to brush up on the legal language pertaining to your protections. This also may be a situation where you feel safest in a buddy-system with a friend or partner, so you have backup in case someone harasses you while you are feeding your child or pumping milk.