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Breastfeeding Challenges for Working Moms

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To state the obvious…The New York Times is reporting that breastfeeding is easier for “professional” working moms, than it is for “working class” moms. In this front page story, the Times highlights the differences at Starbucks. At the corporate offices in Seattle, moms have a special lactation room and company-supplied pumps. Women who work in the Starbucks coffee shops, on the other hand, have to pump in the same bathroom that customers use.
Is this really news? Or is the Times finally telling a story that needs to be told? Health care professionals tell us that breast milk is the “gold standard” for infant nutrition, but our working culture makes breastfeeding a big challenge.
Moms who work in restaurants, department stores and factories have to jump through hoops to find a place and time to pump. Even under the best of circumstances, moms who have a private office, designated lactation room or conference room, find that they have to explain to their bosses, colleagues and clients that they are unavailable at certains times of the day because they need to pump. Let’s face it, breastfeeding is simply much easier for moms who are able to stay home with their babies. They don’t have to worry about pumping often enough during the day to maintain their milk supply.
According to the New York Times article, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is about to launch a campaign called “The Business Case for Breastfeeding.” This will emphasize findings that breastfeeding reduces absenteeism and pediatrician bills. But is an ad campaign really going to change anything for women in this country? Maybe, maybe not. At a minimum, it can’t hurt. Even if one company finds a way to make it easier for breastfeeding moms, then it’s a start. For the forseeable future, be prepared to fight your own battles.
So what’s your experience? How supportive is your office?

One Response to “Breastfeeding Challenges for Working Moms”

I work at a hospital in the information systems department. We have an employee lactation room. My supervisors were very supportive when I had to go pump. I also took that time to check on my customers who were on the same floor. Double duty! =)

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