It is easy to say “all babies should be breastfed” but then ignore the social context that mothers have to work within as they try to breastfeed their babies. This post from the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine does a great job addressing this issue. Here is a taste:
These issues transcend breastfeeding. Why, for example, do we pit “stay at home moms” against “working moms,” rather than demand high-quality, affordable child care, flexible work, and paid maternity leave so that each woman can pursue both market work and caring work, in the proportion she finds most fulfilling? Why do we accept that, if a woman devotes all of her time to caring for her family, she does not earn any social security benefits, whereas if she gets a paying job and sends her children to day care, she and her day care provider earn credits toward financial security in old age? And why do we enact social policies that subsidize child care and require poor mothers to enter the paid work force, rather than support poor mothers to care for their own children?
The United States Breastfeeding Committee has posted FAQ’s about the provisions in the new health care reform legislation for workplace support of breastfeeding mothers. They summarize the provision:
Section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as Health Care Reform), states that employers shall provide breastfeeding employees with “reasonable break time” and a private, non-bathroom place to express breast milk during the workday, up until the child’s first birthday.
Employers are not required to pay for time spent expressing milk, and employers of less than 50 employees shall not be required to provide the breaks if doing so would cause “undue hardship” to their business.
Here’s the link. It includes answers to questions including what the law does (and doesn’t do), when it takes effect, why the law is necessary, and what employers will gain from providing breastfeeding support for their employees.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has created a resource kit, “Ten Steps to Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care Centers Resource Kit”. It can be downloaded for free from the DHS website. It is attractive and seems easy to read. It has a brief summary of how a daycare provider can support breastfeeding for mothers that leave their babies with the provider. There is also information about making a daycare a breastfeeding-friendly employer. There are also references for reading more — including my favorite: a list of breastfeeding-friendly books to read to young children. If this isn’t enough, daycare providers can get CEU’s (continuing education units) from the Wisconsin Department of Families and Children after studying this resource kit.
No – the state is not paying me to advertise this. I just think it looks like a really great resource provided by our government. Isn’t that cool?
Going back to work while their babies are little is the reality for most mothers that I see. And while it is possible to feed a baby by cup or spoon or finger, most care providers really prefer to feed babies with bottles. So I’ve been trying to learn more about what kinds of bottles and bottle feeding methods best support breastfeeding. There isn’t a lot of good information out there. This new website, BreastandBottlefeeding.com, (and their book) is a start in the right direction. I found the book interesting and think it could be helpful to mothers that are trying to find the way to use bottles to maintain their breastfeeding relationship while they need to be away from their babies. I was disappointed at the lack of research-based information and references, though. It’s a thoughtful book but not heavily evidence-based — though that may not be the fault of the authors but just due to a lack of comprehensive research on this topic.
Check out this hiking adventure from Erin Lotz at Outdoor Baby where two moms forget a very important item on their Grand Canyon trip. Here’s a little bit of the intro:
We planned to hike to the river, spend a night, hike along the river, spend another night, and then hike all the way back. I think that was the itinerary. I was to procure three items that would be shared and were considered critical (as opposed to our shared pots and tent which were less critical). I was to bring a breast pump in order for us to “pump and dump” and therefore continue lactating for our breastfed one-year-olds. I was also to bring a coffee press mug for Kristine. Since she would be pumping and dumping, she could indulge in coffee on this trip — something she was looking forward to nearly as much as the hike itself. Finally, I was to bring one of the two dinners. Now remember, packing was somewhat haphazard.
From the United States Breastfeeding Committee:
On June 11, 2009, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (NY) and Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) introduced the Breastfeeding Promotion Act in both houses of Congress, to provide a unified national policy to keep mothers, their children, and their communities healthy. This is the first time the bill has been introduced in the Senate.
The Breastfeeding Promotion Act (H.R. 2819, S. 1244) includes five provisions:
- Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect breastfeeding women from being fired or discriminated against in the workplace.
- Provides tax incentives for businesses that establish private lactation areas in the workplace, or provide breastfeeding equipment or consultation services to their employees.
- Provides for a performance standard to ensure breast pumps are safe and effective.
- Allows breastfeeding equipment and consultation services to be tax deductible for families (amends Internal Revenue Code definition of “medical care”).
- Protects the privacy of breastfeeding mothers by ensuring they have break time and a private place to pump (applies to employers with 50 or more employees, see text of legislation for details).
Something to think about and write to your representatives about. It’s exciting to see breastfeeding become a visible, national health care issue. Having said that, I still think that what breastfeeding mothers and babies really need is good maternity leave policy. Protecting mothers’ ability to pump milk for their babies is a great start but not a true replacement for time together during those first months of life.
Update (7/12/2009): Happy Bambino is now carrying both Hygeia and Pumpin Pals so we’ve got a local source for both products! They also started carrying Ameda pumps. Mothers in the Madison area now have easy access to all the major quality pump options. (Hooray!)
The majority of breastfeeding mothers that I see in the Madison area end up wanting a breastpump — mostly because they’re heading back to work while their babies are still small. Many of the pumps that are available are expensive — and some are expensive, uncomfortable, and ineffective. In the Madison area the only really good pump brand mothers can find easily is Medela. Medela makes very nice pumps and accessories (and supports excellent basic breastfeeding research) but their products aren’t perfect for every woman. Mothers use Medela’s Pump In Style all the time (and generally like it a lot) but it’s pricey — so many people buy used ones despite safety concerns. It would be nice to have more quality options. Competition among pump brands can only be good for mothers!
I’m feeling optimistic about two companies and hoping they’re readily available to Madison mothers soon:
One is the Pumpin’ Pal breastshields. Some mothers have a hard time finding a Medela shield that feels right. Pumpin’ Pal shields are a different shape that seem to accomodate a wide range of nipple sizes. They can be used with Medela pumps.
The other is a new pump manufacturer: Hygeia. The really cool thing that they’re offering is a double electric pump (the EnJoye) that is in the price range of a Pump In Style but is safe for multiple users and has a motor that is guaranteed for three years. Also, a mother can return one of their pumps if it doesn’t work for her — not just if it is mechanically defective. Unfortunately I don’t have hands-on experience with these pumps yet so I can’t be enthusiastic without reservations. But, like I said, I’m feeling hopeful that this will give mothers more options.