Getting Real with Kira Hazledine
It’s no secret that breastfeeding mothers are not supported in the workplace. Breastfeeding in public, on your own time and on your own agenda, is one hurdle, but what about for working moms? Requesting time to pump from an employer is a legal right, but it’s not always a comfortable conversation. If you weren’t made to feel as if maternity leave was an inconvenience, there’s a whole slew of probing questions and blank stares when it comes to pumping accommodations.
Despite laws in place that supposedly support pumping and breastfeeding mothers, the US is largely lacking in how it supports mothers in general. Paid maternity leave is barely a new concept, and organizations are championed for offering a few weeks when other countries offer a paid year of leave. Mothers in other countries rarely have to fight for the right to pump at work because they have the privilege of staying at home.
Do you know why it’s so frustrating for pumping mothers that have to take unpaid time out of their day to provide milk for babies at home?
Because normal output for a 20 minute pumping session is .5 to 2 ounces.
Do you know how much a breastfed baby should consume in the time a mother is gone? One once per hour.
So if a baby is consuming 8 ounces of milk in a regular work day, not accounting for commute or required overtime, how is a mother supposed to bring home enough milk for their babies?
Unless they have an oversupply, the answer is that most women just don’t. Instead, they pump every available moment at home when they should be bonding with their babies. They wake up at 3am to not only breastfeed a hungry baby, but to pump as well. It’s no wonder working mothers are exhausted.
World Breastfeeding Week is not simply about the ability to breastfeed a child. It’s about creating a culture that is accepting of something that is completely natural and then making accommodations for it. With the lack of health care, child care, and other basic necessities, many women are forced back to work when their babies are only a few weeks old.
So when a breastfeeding mother cries over spilled milk, it’s for damn good reason. They are losing sleep, money, their free time, and more to provide basic nutrition. Formula is not the answer. A better support network is what this country is desperate for, and World Breastfeeding Week highlights how underdeveloped US standards are in comparison to other first world countries.
Mothers deserve more.