‘Nursing nooks’ at Trumbull, other libraries, offer moms private breastfeeding space

TRUMBULL — “You’re doing amazing!” reads a note stuck to a message board posted in a quiet corner of the Trumbull Library children’s section. The board with the perky message is alongside a hefty armchair and a coffee table, which features information on breastfeeding.

The whole tableau is shielded from general view by a screen that bears the words “Nursing Nook.” It’s supposed to be a cozy, private space where breastfeeding moms can go to nourish their babies in relative solitude, said library director Stefan Lyhne-Nielsen. The nook was placed in the back of the library, because it’s generally fairly quiet.

“It adds to the privacy factor,” Lyhne-Nielsen said.

The nook is one of several recently added to libraries throughout greater Bridgeport, which were set up through a grant received by the Stratford Health Department in 2019 from the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

The nooks were one of multiple projects funded through the grant, which aimed to promote breastfeeding in Bridgeport, Stratford, Trumbull, Fairfield and Monroe, said Stratford assistant health director Greta Broneill.

“The goal community-wide was to create an environment where women could relax and feel comfortable and supported while breastfeeding,” or pumping, she said.

Trumbull Health Department director Lucy Bango echoed those thoughts. “It’s great to have an area, besides the bathroom, where nursing mothers can relax, have some privacy and feed their babies,” she said.

Connecticut law allows mothers to breastfeed their babies in public places and the workplace. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first six months with continued breastfeeding while introducing appropriate complementary foods for one year or longer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 83.9 percent of babies born in 2018 were breastfeed at some point, but only 56.7 percent were still being breastfed at six months and 35 percent were still being breastfed at a year.

The nook at the Trumbull library opened earlier this month — though it was supposed to open much earlier.

“We had been asked to do this before the pandemic began,” Lyhne-Nielsen said. The plans had to be abruptly postponed once COVID-19 hit and caused many libraries in the region to close temporarily.

Broneill agreed that COVID “made things kind of funky,” and though she said most of the libraries she’s working with have at least made some steps to set up their nooks, she’s not sure how many are operational or being used at this point.

The Trumbull library is still “slowly reopening” Lyhne-Nielsen said, and the nursing nook was one of the first new things the facility added after reopening. He said he doesn’t know how often it’s been used so far, but there’s been a lot of interest on social media in the program.

Though there were some guidelines for setting up the nook, Lyhne-Nielsen said library staff added their own touches, including the billboard and a stack of Post-It notes left alongside it, on which patrons can write notes like the inspirational one that was sitting there on a recent morning.

“That idea came from one of our staff,” Lyhne-Nielsen said. “She had been nursing and was at an airport (nursing space) when she saw a board where people could leave messages. She thought it was a nice idea.”