Apparently, a couple weeks ago a bill was submitted in Congress that would allow all mothers the ability to take time off to pump breast milk while working, and would offer a tax credit for companies to set up proper facilities for nursing moms.
Now, I probably don't have to tell most of you about both the environmental and health benefits of breast feeding. I think those benefits have been fairly loudly publicized. Still, I was shocked by some of the stats in this New York Times article. The percentage of moms in the top income bracket who breast feed is about 25 points higher than the percentage of moms who breast feed in the bottom income bracket.
There is no reason that wealthier parents should breastfeed more than poorer moms. Breast milk is, among other things, free.
But in fact, wealthier moms do breastfeed more because poorer moms are 1) less likely to take time off for leave 2) more likely to work in jobs where they have no place nor time to pump.
We live in a culture of blame.
When a mom doesn't breast feed, she is blamed for not doing so. She is castigated as selfish and uncaring. When another person drives to work, they are refusing to sacrifice. They don't care about the Earth or they would take the bus. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
And we fail to take account of the socio-economic, legal, and political institutions that influence our behavior. You can't breast feed if you have to work and you aren't allowed time or facilities to pump. You can't take the bus if the bus triples your commute time and lessens your already precious little time with your family and friends.
Yes, we are back to my favorite topic. It's the institutions, stupid! I think I'm going to make tee-shirts.
Personally, I think this act seems like a good step forward, though clearly not enough. I'd love to see more comprehensive legislation for parents in the future including paid parental leave for both mothers AND fathers. But until then, time to pump is a start.
3 weeks ago