It’s no secret that moms are some of the hardest working, most important people in the world. As Abraham Lincoln said, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”
That’s why it’s so incredible and admirable that moms are getting jobs at unprecedented rates, and are considered the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. labor force. According to the CDC, “approximately 70% of employed mothers with children younger than 3 years work full time. One-third of these mothers return to work within 3 months after birth and two-thirds return within 6 months.”
When it comes to breastfeeding, it can actually help a company’s bottom line to help new mothers with their breastfeeding needs. For both hourly and salaried workers, their employers save an average of $3 for every $1 they invest in breastfeeding assistance. This is explained by the fact that healthier babies aren’t as needy and have lower health care expenses. As another result, moms miss fewer workdays when they have healthy babies. A study by the American Journal of Public Health found that breastfed babies contracted only 25% of the common illnesses developed by their formula-fed counterparts.
Though the benefits of allowing new moms to breastfeed in the workplace are numerous, society must first get past the social stigmas surrounding the practice. According to The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, “In American culture, breasts have often been regarded primarily as sexual objects, while their nurturing function has been downplayed. Although focusing on the sexuality of female breasts is common in the mass media, visual images of breastfeeding are rare, and a mother may never have seen a woman breastfeeding.”
It also doesn’t help when public leaders and influencers turn their noses up at the subject. During a 2011 courtroom deposition of Donald Trump, attorney Elizabeth Beck requested a break so that she could breastfeed her newborn baby. Trump lost it.
“He got up, his face got red, he shook his finger at me and he screamed, ‘You’re disgusting, you’re disgusting,’ and he ran out of there,” Beck told CNN.
If women are shamed for performing a natural bodily function that their newborns need to be survive and be healthy, it will be difficult for them to have the confidence to breastfeed in public places, especially at work.
"While Trump was in court, during a lawsuit in Florida, lawyer Elizabeth Beck asked for a break. Trump & his team objected, but Beck pointed out she needed to feed her baby, pulling out a breast pump to prove it. Trump said: 'You're disgusting.'" #InternationalWomensDay https://t.co/SjN4oAbom0— Sierra Club (@SierraClub) March 8, 2018
To make breastfeeding in the workplace common on a state level, the CDC recommends providing educational materials to employers about how supporting their employees who breastfeed benefits employers, establishing a model lactation support program for all state employees, promoting legislation to support worksite lactation programs through mandates or incentives, and creating work site recognition programs to honor employers who support their breastfeeding employees.
But it’s also largely up to the coworkers, friends, and family of these women, the new moms, to encourage them to push for support and ignore detractors when it comes to doing what’s best for the health of their infant. It’s better for mom, baby, and employer, a true win-win-win. Don’t you agree?