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Whatever, Mom 

Finding the niche

If you're a mother, you've likely referred to the infancy stage as "the era of eat-shit-sleep." But if you're a breastfeeding mother, it's very possible that the primary word was just eat.

I understand. It's quite shocking how much those tiny creatures can consume—not to mention how proficient they are when it comes to demanding mealtimes without an ounce of mercy for hour or location. I applaud you, breastfeeding mom. And I, too, have felt your frustration toward those who just can't seem to understand how babies can possibly get hungry out in public, or why mommies must comply by whipping out a boob in a place completely unrelated to spring break in Cabo.

Indeed, breastfeeding a child these days seems to be more acceptable on a dirty bathroom floor than in a comfortable public setting. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the breastfeeding experts at Lansinoh Laboratories Inc. showed 40 percent of mothers who had listed "breastfeeding in public" as their greatest concern.

And despite the proper nutrition and healthy psycho-social development that breastfeeding a child provides, only 38 percent of infants worldwide are even breastfed (exclusively) for the first six months, according to the World Health Organization. It's an issue that—regardless of the lawful permission behind it—still lingers around controversy.

Some might say it's time for some serious improvement... And that's exactly what residents here in Bend can expect to see in the very near future.

For the last seven years, local parents Seth and Coreen Ehlinger have been considering a solution to this longstanding problem. And Coreen—an experienced nurse and former breastfeeding mother—is no stranger to the topic. Not only has she endured her own struggles with breastfeeding her two children in public, but she's watched countless friends, relatives and complete strangers battle the same problems.

"There were many times I just wasn't sure I could do it anymore," she said. "My away-from-home ventures were quite challenging, and I knew that getting the job done was going to require more peace, more quiet and more liberation."

Enter: compassionate dad to the rescue...

After witnessing the difficulties his wife had faced as a breastfeeding mother, Seth was determined to create something that would allow moms to breastfeed in public—without all the stress. So, he invented the Niche: a unique, tailored-for-breastfeeding-mamas station—equipped with an easily-accessible folding seat, adjustable armrests and optional privacy settings.

"All breastfeeding mothers deserve peace of mind," Seth said. "They deserve a comfortable, sanitary environment in which to provide the valuable milk their babies need—no matter when or where it's needed."

Scheduled for installation this month (at various locations around Bend), the Niche is now in its final stages of manufacturing prototyping. And since launching thenicheative.com just last month, the Ehlingers have received a flood of inquiries and positive feedback.

"It brings me so much joy," Coreen says, "knowing that this new concept has the great potential to impact breastfeeding statistics in such a positive way."

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