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What’s Best for Babes?

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There are a lot of organizations, professionals and moms-on-a-mission who are devoted to promoting breastfeeding. They all do good work. Now here’s another group that is taking a unique approach to increasing breastfeeding rates in the U.S. Best For Babes is a non-profit founded by two moms who are trying to harness the power of mainstream media. I had a chance to talk to the founders Bettina Forbes and Danielle Rigg about their plans. Here’s what they had to say:
What is Best For Babes?
Best for Babes is dedicated to increasing breastfeeding rates and making breastfeeding mainstream. To accomplish this, BfB is the first and only entity to bring together celebrities, corporations, foundations, fashion, advertising and the media to give breastfeeding a makeover. Our motto is “inspire, prepare, empower”: BfB is providing inspiring images and role-models, smart info on how to avoid the “booby traps,” and how to have a game plan for breastfeeding successfully. Our research and experience have convinced us that this strategy is the best antidote to persistently low U.S. breastfeeding rates.
Why did you start BfB?
Because new moms don’t need more pressure or more guilt! They need solutions, and the inspiration to succeed at nursing. We are two moms who endured unnecessary breastfeeding problems ourselves and heard many similar stories from our peers. Danielle took her personal struggle and passion for breastfeeding and turned it into a degree as a CLC (Certified Lactation Counselor) in 2002. Bettina was more recently certified. In our work we kept finding the same problem: too many moms weren’t being motivated, prepared or supported properly. At a time when breastfeeding is being encouraged as never before, women are still being set up to fail.
On the motivation side, we found that many women were being turned-off both by existing breastfeeding groups and by images with which they did not identify. Many moms also were scared-off by stories they heard about breastfeeding problems. The saddest part is that 95% of these problems are easily avoided with the proper guidance.
What are your goals?
We’d love to see the U.S. have the same breastfeeding rates as Sweden—where 99% of women initiate and 79% are still mostly breastfeeding at 6 months. In the U.S., the initiation rate is 64%, and only 14% are breastfeeding exclusively at 6 months. One of our most important goals is to provide celebrity and everyday role models. Many women have never seen another woman breastfeed and don’t know where to turn for support or inspiration.
We also want to simply get the most accurate information into women’s hands. Mainstream articles are not always evidence-based, and put little emphasis on prevention. So, we are educating women on how to be better prepared before birth—which hospitals have the best breastfeeding track record, how to find a pediatrician who is trained in lactation or has an IBCLC on staff, which health insurance covers lactation specialists; which employers provide pumping accommodations and on-site daycare. Women also need social support from families and friends. They need positive media images and stores and restaurants that are nursing-friendly. All of these make a huge difference in breastfeeding success We will also be asking for volunteers: Moms are a powerful force and we think the time is right to harness their energy. Moms deserve to be pumped up, geared up, and to feel fabulous about giving their best mom-made wonderfood™ to their babes.

What celebrities are on board with this idea?

Marilu Henner is one of our founding board members and has been terrific. She immediately “got” our concept and is tremendously supportive. Henner is a well-known actress and a New York Times bestselling author who has dedicated herself to helping people improve their health. We’re expecting other celebrities to jump in soon too.
What did you do before BFB?
Well, immediately before BfB, both of us were trying to figure out how to tend to two small children (apiece), our husbands, our homes, and still find time to change the world! Before that, Bettina worked in corporate philanthropy for Merrill Lynch where she managed a highly successful scholarship program for inner-city youth in ten major U.S. cities. The program received numerous awards, including the nation’s highest honor, the President’s “Points of Light” Service Award, in 1999. Danielle was an employment and labor lawyer working at a prestigious NYC firm, and, later, for a large corporation. She gave all that up when she found her calling to help women learn to breastfeed Danielle’s diagnosis with breast cancer at age 37, has motivated her even more to tout breastfeeding’s protective effect against breast cancer – especially the lesser-known benefit for breastfed baby girls.

What should we watch for next from BFB?

In August we were on the cover of Stork Magazine. This was the first in a series of gorgeous images plus smart info that we have planned for our advertising/media campaign. Look for interviews with us in prominent mainstream magazines, and cross-marketing projects with our partners. Also tune in to the “Boob Tube” at where we set the record straight on latest breastfeeding-related articles, research and products.

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