Making breastfeeding more possible

It’s a goal we should all support, whether or not we as individual women choose to do it. It increases the range of viable options available to mothers.

The surgeon general is issuing a call Thursday to eliminate obstacles to breast-feeding – and working moms may see the first steps: The new health care law requires that many employers start offering “reasonable” break times to pump milk and a private place to do it. No, the company bathroom no longer counts.

Of course, what’s *really* needed is much longer maternity leave than Americans get. But this is better than nothing. And also better than the more traditional governmental strategy of haranguing and blaming mothers who don’t breastfeed. (Thanks, Jender-Parents!)

4 thoughts on “Making breastfeeding more possible

  1. Unfortunately they haven’t picked up yet on the “OOPS, sorry, no longer exclusive for 6 months after all”!!!!!! Let’s hope that filters through at some point……;)

    Here is what I always wonder: I was recently travelling in some parts of Southern Africa (no, NOT on “my Gap YAH” – I feel really harrassed by that sketch), and one of the most noticable things there was (1) the prevalence of small children hanging of their mothers, siblings, or father’s (yes! a few!) back, and (2) the constant public breastfeeding: breast getting whipped out on buses, trains, the market, literally EVERYWHERE, with no shame at all. And kids often tied to the mother in such a way that she can feed and walk/use her hands/etc (these are obviously older kids who have the nack of holding on whilst moving and groping around in their mothers’ clothes to find the thing without assistance;)

    Noone bats an eyelid at all of this, and that is not due to any kind of gender separation: I have seen it happen over and over (in packed buses for example), in very close proximity to men.

    SOOO: why do I NEVER see a breast in public in Britain? For surely one way of encouraging breastfeeding is to make nursery rooms easily available at work for expressing or nursing if the child can be taken in (and I warmly welcome any positive move in that direction). But why not (also) take another route: make it possible feed the child in the middle of your boardroom meeting, and keep on chairing the session? Of course there are many jobs for which this is unpractical, but there are also many for which it is not – a little bit of cultural change in that direction might do us a wealth of good…..

    Ok, must stop being radical now.

  2. I agree that it would be good to see more breastfeeding *at work*. I’m a recently tenured professor with a new baby, and I nurse my baby at work events all the time. I bring the baby to department meetings, to talks, to a graduate seminar I sit in on. The baby sleeps most of the time, but when he doesn’t, I hold him, walk around with him, or nurse him.
    Now, I don’t actually pull out my breast. I wear a nursing cover or cover us up with a baby blanket. But to anyone who bothers to think about it, it’s clear I’m nursing him. Interestingly, lots of people have no idea I ever nurse at these events, even though they’ve been in the room with me many times.
    Still, the women at these events do tend to realize I’m nursing my baby, so I think it does have the desired effects of modeling (a) that you can bring your baby anywhere, and (b) that you can nurse your baby anywhere.
    In my case, I have to admit I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to bring my baby anywhere if another colleague of mine, a few years ago, had not set the example by bringing her baby everywhere (and nursing). Now I’m very happy to be setting that example myself!
    I should also acknowledge that this has been made easy in my case by the family-friendly attitudes of my colleagues. In particular, some of the male full professors in the department are so baby-positive that they’ve made it easy.
    I didn’t make it to the Eastern APA in Boston this year, but I was planning to go and bring my baby to some sessions. I realized that I have never noticed a baby at an APA session. This is kind of crazy, I think. (Have there been babies I haven’t noticed??)
    Well, my baby and I will be at Pacific APA sessions this spring . . .

  3. I always feel so jealous when I read stories like yours! There’s no way anyone would have failed to notice constantly-screaming Jender-Son. (And therefore no way I could ever consider bringing him to work.)

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