Moms are speaking out in the media to make their voices heard on infant feeding choices. Recent news articles have generated responses in editorials, blogs, forums, and web sites.
- Bailey, Maria (blog): Why Can’t We All Get Along? BlueSuitMom.com. October 2006. Available at blog.bluesuitmom.com
I remember how sad I felt the day another mom stopped in a mall to criticize me for bottle feeding my daughter. There I innocently sat 6 months pregnant with my son while feeding my 3 month old daughter who I had adopted. I looked at her and explained that my daughter was adopted even though it was none of her business. And I'll never forget when she replied, "that's no excuse, you could have stimulated your breast milk." As she walked away I remember thinking that this woman had no idea what my family life required of me or how I didn't want to differentiate my two babies once my second was born. It was my choice and she didn't like it.
- Rabin, Roni: Breast-Feed or Else. New York Times. June 2006. Available at www.nytimes.com
Moreover, urging women to breast-feed exclusively is a tall order in a country where more than 60 percent of mothers of very young children work, federal law requires large companies to provide only 12 weeks unpaid maternity leave and lactation leave is unheard of. Only a third of large companies provide a private, secure area where women can express breast milk during the workday, and only 7 percent offer on-site or near-site child care, according to a 2005 national study of employers by the nonprofit Families and Work Institute.
- Leibovich, Lori: Breast Bullies: Salon.com. June 2006. Available at www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/2006/06/14/breastfeeding_debate/index.html
Now, the federal government is getting into the guilt game. According to an article in Tuesday's New York Times under the headline "Breast-Feed or Else," the Department of Health and Human Services is sponsoring a public health campaign designed to inform the nation's new mothers not only that breast-feeding is best but that failing to do so could actually harm their babies. One television ad mentioned in the Times shows a pregnant woman clutching her belly as she is thrown off a mechanical bull, as the voice-over intones: "You wouldn't take risks before your baby's born. Why start after?"
- Kantor, Jodi: On the Job, Nursing Mothers Are Finding a 2-Class System. New York Times. September 2006. Available at www.nytimes.com
But as pressure to breast-feed increases, a two-class system is emerging for working mothers. For those with autonomy in their jobs – generally, well-paid professionals – breast-feeding, and the pumping it requires, is a matter of choice. It is usually an inconvenience, and it may be an embarrassing comedy of manners, involving leaky bottles tucked into briefcases and brown paper bags in the office refrigerator. But for lower-income mothers – including many who work in restaurants, factories, call centers and the military – pumping at work is close to impossible, causing many women to decline to breast-feed at all, and others to quit after a short time.
- Heslam, Jessica: Mass. Moms Cry Over Spilt Milk. Boston Herald. December 2005. Available at www.bostonherald.com Subscription Required.
Because beginning soon, hospitals will no longer be allowed to give free infant formula to mothers taking new babies home. Regulators want to promote breast-feeding, even if it means making Massachusetts the first state to ban the popular freebie. “I think it’s ridiculous,” fumed Christine Kingdon of Brookline, mother of a 3-year-old and twin 12-day-old boys. “It’s a personal choice. (Breast feeding) doesn’t work for everyone.”
Moms all over the country are weighing in on issues related to infant feeding. One such mom from Massachusetts recently launched a web site that offers a blog and forum for moms to exchange ideas on current infant feeding issues. Please visit www.momsfeedingfreedom.com to interact with other moms, share your story, and find out what you can do to play an active role in shaping current infant feeding issues in your area.Bluesuitmom.com is a resource for working mothers who are balancing career, marriage, and children. It features information ranging from tips on preparing a maternity leave plan to planning family meals. For more information, visit www.bluesuitmom.com.