>Alright, so if I had been at ALL consistent about blogging I’d be apologizing for not blogging while I’ve been away. But, those hearty followers who still know I exist know that I’ve been lackluster (and that’s being nice to myself) with my blog posting lately. But today I saw an interesting article that got my fingers itching to blog… And thus begins Got Milk?
There’s an article in Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine (yeah I’d never heard of it either) talking about women pumping milk at work for their babies. As a time-tested veteran of the practice, I had to see what the fuss was all about. The article, titled Lactation: the mother of all office dramas was interesting. Many of you may not be aware that in March, President Obama passed an act requiring employers to provide “breastfeeding employees with “reasonable break time” and a private place — not the ladies’ room — to express breast milk during the workday until a child’s first birthday.” Now, I was lucky. I worked in an office and had my own office. As a manager, I had a veritable cube field outside my office, but I had a door that closed. Since the walls were odd and a window was shared with the office next door, I can’t be sure I didn’t drive my neighbors crazy with the pump sound, but… The article recounts stories of women having their hours cut and being outright fired for taking breaks that are too long or bringing in nurse’s notes stating that they need to pump.
And, therein lies the rub. We want the health benefits that come from breastfeeding, for both Mom and baby. But, few employers want to make much effort. The article also recounts the stories of women who were pumping and had someone walk in on them. It sounds like an urban myth, doesn’t it. But, I had it happen to me once. I borrowed the office of a salesman that was out for the day on sales calls, put a note on the door asking people to stay out as I was pumping, and still got walked in on. By the salesman. Who hadn’t read the note. He was by far more embarrassed than I was because I was fully covered. I found it rather funny. He had a hard time meeting my eye for a month or more after.
Something I guess people who have never expressed milk for the baby likely don’t realize (and certainly the men who tend to make the rules don’t) is that it isn’t an easy path to take. It requires dedication, willingness, and persistence. I suspect a dash of sheer, downright, orneriness is probably well placed as well (teehee). Getting the milk to come out well requires quiet, calm, restful relaxation. Now, can you imagine a woman perched on the toilet in a public restroom finding those things? Neither can I. Now, imagine them in that same awful position for months on end. As I said, I was lucky. I had a nice, quiet place to pump. I bought clothes that made discreet pumping possible so I wouldn’t feel exposed and tools to make it hands-free. I was actually able to go right on working while I pumped the milk every 2-3 hours. And, I was able to continue doing it for the first year after the twins were born. And, it’s a gift that I am thankful for every single day. By the end of that year, I couldn’t wait to be done. I felt like mooing constantly. But, my kids got the best food they possibly could have.
So, I give my applause to Obama for requiring employers to provide similar conditions. In the US, we take little enough care of our working women. The company I worked for during my year of pumping did not offer paid maternity leave. As a result, 4 weeks after giving birth, I was back in the office. At least this is one protection that is now offered all working women. And, it helps the employer with healthier kids, less time off work for mom, and other benefits.
I do wish that more people in Jordan would catch on to how important breastfeeding is. I’d love to see scores of women with the briefcase-like pump on their way to work. The state of breastfeeding and the misinformation available at even the best hospitals saddens me. It denies those who really can’t afford formula another, healthier, better, cheaper option. And, it denies those moms the chance to at least try to reap the personal health and baby-bonding benefits. Wake up, Jordan. Get on the nursing bandwagon. It will do the country good.