Monday, May 14, 2007

Breastfeeding at Work (and in public)

If you saw the recent omnipresent photograph of Maggie Gyllenhaal's breast taken while she breastfed (I'm not going to link to it), you can probably conclude that we're not really okay with breastfeeding in the United States. And surprise! Women don't breastfeed enough. And surprise! A class system exists to breastfeeding (or pumping) at work (wealthy women have more opportunities to do it).

The hypocrisy of our attitudes toward The Breasts are typified by Victoria's Secret, who asked a woman to leave for breastfeeding. I don't really have to point out the irony, do I? Breasts for pleasure for men? Okay. Breasts for their biological purpose? Not okay.

Britain, unfortunately, shares some of our attitudes about breastfeeding. However, a new law being considered in Britain would give women the "right" to breastfeed in public, as well as time for breaks at work:

Alison Baum, co-ordinator of the Breastfeeding Manifesto, said: “By
ensuring that employers provide appropriate work schedules and places to allow
women to continue breastfeeding, women could breastfeed for longer.

“Employers who are breast-feeding-friendly benefit in the long run
because the babies of those mothers will end up having fewer bugs and suffering
less illness. The parents will, therefore, have fewer absences.”

If companies had on-site crãches, women would take a break to breastfeed
their child but, more commonly, they would express milk and store it for their
baby to drink later.

Read the rest of Women May Get Right to Breastfeed in Public. Then try not to cry at the absurity of what women need the "right" to do.