Breast-Feeding Takes Giant Leap

Ten years ago, it was essentially inconceivable that a story about working moms who breast-feed would be a a front page national news story. Maybe something buried in a Health or Women's section, hidden behind the words "lactation" or another innocuous descriptor chosen to avoid making men squirm. But here we are, moms: Note the historic date of Friday, Sept. 1, 2006, when the New York Times ran a front page story and home page video on its Web site about how hard it is to breast-feed at work: On the Job, Nursing Mothers Are Finding a 2-Class System. There were even color pictures of one woman's milk baggies in the office freezer next to some black bean enchiladas and two photos of moms pumping at their offices.

The story itself is newsworthy, with the seeds of social advocacy planted in the reporter's words:

"Doctors firmly believe that breast milk is something of a magic elixir for babies, sharply reducing the rate of infection, and quite possibly reducing the risk of allergies, obesity, and chronic disease later in life...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...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."

Wherever you are now -- pumping in your cube, getting in 20 minutes on the computer while your baby takes a nap, or pretending to work while you are reading this blog -- pause for a second. Working moms' long grassroots struggle to gain equality at work has reached a small but noteworthy milestone. Pumping breastmilk while at work -- what was once a joke or a hush-hush secret mission conducted behind closed doors or in a bathroom stall -- is being taken seriously as an important issue facing our country by one of the world's most recognized sources of hard facts.

Keep on pumping, moms. Everywhere you can. Because if we do, more articles will be written and talked about, and one day, workplace protection for breast-feeding moms of all income levels will be commonplace, too.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  September 6, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Moms in the News
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Comments

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Maybe women in the office won't object if I keep some of my frozen sperm in the freezer next to their food.

Posted by: Jon | September 6, 2006 8:29 AM

This is an excellent topic. It's a more important discussion than whether people do or do not want to breast feed. It speaks to the problem of people who want to breast feed and can't, mostly people like everyone I grew up with--blue collar women who usually have to work.

These women could have been my sisters, my friends, or my aunts. I find it really sad that my nephew is 21 years old and things still haven't changed that much. When he was born my sister went back to work 6 weeks later and had to stop breastfeeding due to the inability to pump. She worked in a factory on a line and while I believe that the people she worked with would have covered for her while she pumped, I don't know where she would have pumped, probably in the dirty bathroom amidst cigarette smoke. When I worked in the factory, many women had children, but not many of them breastfed. I don't know what the solution is, but I know that it involves all of us, not just the girls on the line or the ones taking your order at Starbucks. This article has made me sadly unoptimistic about women's rights.

Posted by: scarry | September 6, 2006 8:36 AM

Jon--I'm not sure why you felt the need to be as offensive as you could. Maybe insecurity, maybe you just don't understand why this topic matters to women. But stop and think about what you said.

Breast milk IS food, and it makes sense to have it in a fridge with other food. Sperm is about the act of reproduction. A little bit harder to justify at work, don't you think?

Sometimes it just isn't about YOU, honey. Try to see a different world.

Posted by: working mom | September 6, 2006 8:38 AM

I just finished pumping for my second child - I went a year with both. In both cases, I had to make an effort to establish a place at work for me to breastpump that was private. Nothing hurts pumping more than being nervous or uptight, so both times I was able to find an empty office (not a cube, that just doesn't work). For my first, I was able to use the empty office for the first year, for the second, I was kicked out after 6 months, and spent the remainder of the pumping time in my car. I did go to my manager and to HR and to building management, but there were no empty spaces. And, this is one of the largest companies in the world, so I know I'm not the first to ask.... They suggested the bathroom - to which I replied, would you eat your lunch in there - so why would I pump my son's lunch? :) The car was not ideal, but hey, it worked. Bottom line, I had to ask, I had to look and I had to come up with my solution. Don't be embarrassed to ask, and don't back down if you want to breastpump. And, if you don't or can't breastpump, don't let other make your feel guilty - everyone has their own unique circumstances and you have to do what works best for you.

Posted by: NY, NY | September 6, 2006 8:49 AM

There are bathrooms and then there are bathrooms. I pumped when I worked in a very small office - 4 people. Our bathroom was a handicap accessible one for a single user. We also had a good cleaning company so it was and felt clean. Because of the accessible size I was able to leave a comfortable chair in the room (noone was using a wheelchair at the time). It felt more like a lounge set up.

I have also seen people book the conference room (you may have to be willing to be bumped) but I see that better than your car (not comfortable and not an option if you use public transit) or sitting on a stall.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 8:56 AM

To anon at 8:56am, you had only one bathroom and you took it for 20-30 minutes a few times a day to pump??? I think that's a little rude. What if somebody needed to use it for bathroom purposes?

I've got no problem giving pumping women the time and space to pump. However, I would want a clear policy whereby the time spent by the woman pumping is either made up before and/or after work, during lunch hour, etc. Nobody - not pumping women, smoking men, etc. - should get "free" time from the office.

Posted by: Pump supporter | September 6, 2006 9:03 AM

there were four of us I asked first.

Posted by: to pump supporter | September 6, 2006 9:04 AM

Yea, those pumping machines really should come with a stop watch or something...

Because those smokers really make it a habit to make up their out of the office. Come on.

Posted by: another one to pump supporter | September 6, 2006 9:10 AM

Jon, you got such an early start on your attacks on working women this morning.

I don't understand why people who are hostile toward people trying to earn a living and be the best parents and they can participate in this blog. It appears that they hang out here just to take digs at people and play the victim. It would be nice if I could actually find a discussion among these comments instead of attacks and defenses. I don't want to debate whether some whiners in the office like it when moms pump. I want to talk about how we can find a good work/life balance. But it's clear I won't find it here.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 9:14 AM

To "pump supporter", I suspect you work in HR. Keep your people staring at their monitors at all costs!

Seriously, I generally take work with me to read when I go pump. It's just become part of my day; when I know I have something to read for work I set it aside to do during my pumping time. When's the last time you saw someone who was outside smoking doing work?

Posted by: to pump supporter too | September 6, 2006 9:21 AM

I pumped for a year for my first child, and am about to start back to work part-time (and pumping) for my second. Kudos to all of us who have managed to continue nursing children despite needing or wanting to continue paid employment. Thought I'd just use this space to offer a couple of tips to new pumpers.

1. You don't need to waste time washing the "horns" and other pumping equipment after each session at the office. Just put them in a clean ziplock bag and store the ziplock in a small cooler or insulated lunchbag, along with your pumped milk & ice pack. Any residual milk on the equipment will stay clean and fresh for your next session.

2. Having trouble keeping up your supply? Sneak in an extra pumping session before you leave every morning. When your child wakes up, nurse first, then shower, then pump for just 5 minutes while you eat breakfast. That little extra daily stimulation will boost your supply.

3. If you have a private office where you can pump, buy a hands-free pumping kit so that you can keep right on working while you pump.

Hope these tips help someone. Anyone else have practical tips to share?

Posted by: DC mom | September 6, 2006 9:25 AM

So, are you going to make up the time you wasted reading and posting to this forum on your lunch hour today, or after work? Or will you be coming in early tomorrow?

As long as everyone gets their work done, it's none of your business how or when it gets done or whether someone took a (gasp!) 10 minute break to pump...or smoke... or read a blog online. If the work is NOT getting done, that's for the person's supervisor to address.

So stop being such a jerk!

Posted by: To "Pump Supporter" | September 6, 2006 9:25 AM

I'd just point out not to feed the trolls.

While going into a restroom or unused conference room to pump works for those women in an office environment, what about women in service industries? One of my friends is a waitress, and obviously she has no time or opportunity to pump during her work time.

Posted by: John (not Jon) | September 6, 2006 9:25 AM

For most of us professionals who don't punch a time clock the time pumping is no different than a long lunch or surfing the net (participating in blogs maybe), etc. As long as we get our work done. The issue is more for jobs that have very strict work times. This is were the need for formal scheduled breaks come in (hey Fo3 from yesterday's blog requiring pumping breaks - government policy that might help) and yes if it is longer than the breaks others get you may have to start earlier or work later, but the key is still allowing women to pump.

Posted by: to pump supporter | September 6, 2006 9:28 AM

>>> Maybe women in the office won't object if I keep some of my frozen sperm in the freezer next to their food.>>>

Your comment is very funny. You can't really be seriously comparing breast milk and sperm?! The proper analogy would be if a woman was freezing her eggs in your work fridge, not breast milk. Are you really that paranoid about breast milk? You know you are teetering on crazy, right?

Posted by: To Jon | September 6, 2006 9:40 AM

To Jon You must obviously not know any women or you would not post such a comment.With that attitude you will probably not form any relationships with women in your lifetime.

Posted by: em | September 6, 2006 9:55 AM

Jon obviously doesn't understand what an analogy is - and his negative weird comment isn't worth anyone's time.

There needs to be federal legislation requiring that all employers provide nursing mothers with reasonable breaks to pump, at least during the first year of their baby's life. It's incredibly important for the mother, the baby, and overall public health (an issue that the ignorant and uptight don't understand). There will be opposition from employers, but with a growing body of data showing huge benefits from breastfeeding, full access is inevitable. Employers should step up and own the solution now. The inequalities of the pumping accomodations for professional versus working class women only serve to deepen and continue the health disparities in our society. Are we going to make the next generations of children suffer for that?

Posted by: Kate | September 6, 2006 9:57 AM

Look, there are a bunch of posters here who seem to think that new mothers should get 3 months of paid time off to recover (regardless of annual leave/vacation/sick time/etc.) and think that pumping should supercede working.

Yes, workplaces should make it easier for women to pump. They should have special rooms. They should be given a flexible schedule so they can pump. However, they should NOT be given free time to do it. If their job requires 8 hours of worktime per day, anything that takes away from that should be replace before or after. Just like smokers/bloggers/etc. should have to make up the time.

Posted by: Pump supporter | September 6, 2006 9:58 AM

Breast milk is how babies got their food for thousands of years. NOT breast feeding is a recent anomaly. It's really that simple. Every effort must be made to ensure that babies receive the best, most natural source of nutrition. Even simple animals are allowed to suckle without their mothers being constantly harassed.

We are all contributors to this inhumane, materialistic society that now makes it very difficult for women to interact naturally with their children. Everyone must make sacrifices. If a woman in my office were pumping and perhaps falling a little behind, I would happily help her however I could, including covering for her work if necessary. It's what normal, mature people are supposed to do: take care of each other. When I see so many harsh, petty attitudes, it really makes me cry.

a man

Posted by: bkp | September 6, 2006 10:16 AM

As a manager, I find this person's need to account for every minute of everyone's time to be bordering on neurotic. If an employee is not doing his/her work or if the quality of the work is low, a good manager will soon figure out the situation and deal with the problem. I don't account for every minute of my employees' time... they in turn act like adults and produce high-quality work.

By the way, I am the pumper in our group and I have to get my work done one way or another... I'll probably "pay" for sitting in on this blog by editing some documents after the baby goes to sleep tonight!

Posted by: glad I don't work for "supporter" | September 6, 2006 10:16 AM

And while we are trying to get the time and space for pumping, how about allowing breastpumps to be reimburseable medical expenses? I have a Section 125 medical expense account that I use to get reimbursed for co-pays, deductibles, etc. I can get reimbursed for purchasing contact lens solution but not for a breastpump. Why? Because the IRS considers breast pumps "for the convenience of the mother". (insert eye roll here)

Posted by: Arlington | September 6, 2006 10:22 AM

Thanks to "childless" for not reproducing and for reminding us that it is actually all about YOU.

Posted by: and thanks to "childless"... | September 6, 2006 10:34 AM

Breastfeeding in public is disgusting. I compare it to going to the bathroom in public. Nobody wants to see it and a lot of people are embarrassed by it. Be considerate of your audience, ladies, do it in private. And this pumping business is annoying to co=workers, too. Offices have to set aside a 'lactation room' for YOUR convenience so you don't clog up the bathroom stalls forever. Well, laaa de friggin' da. And breastmilk smells kind of funky. Yuck. As I've always said -- choose your priorities and stop whining. It's all about you, isn't it?

Posted by: Childless by Choice | September 6, 2006 10:35 AM

As I've always said -- choose your priorities and stop whining. It's all about you, isn't it?

Posted by: Childless by Choice | September 6, 2006 10:35 AM

It sounds like you are the whining and making it about you.


Posted by: Another childless | September 6, 2006 10:35 AM

Kate's proposal that "there needs to be federal legislation requiring that all employers provide nursing mothers with reasonable breaks to pump, at least during the first year of their baby's life" is, while ideal, simply not feasible to implement.

All this discussion of women's opportunities or lack thereof to pump breastmilk focuses on two extremes of employment: service jobs and factory work vs. professional jobs. However, it completely ignores an entire class of workers for whom such breaks are an impossibility because of their responsibilities: schoolteachers -- particularly in elementary schools. These people are on duty all the time. And public schools aren't staffed in such a way that someone else can "cover for" a pumping mother.

Kind of ironic, isn't it, that the women educating your youngsters aren't in a position to give their own kids this supposed nutritional "boost."

As to the poster Jon, I think I've figured out what makes guys like him tick. The whole concept of pumping -- which is basically what is done commercially to cows -- desexualizes the breast in a way that makes it undesireable for some men. They want breasts to be arousing, not simply udders, and they find this notion disturbing and, frankly, not much fun.

Yes, it's an infantile, self-absorbed attitude, but it's certainly one that our society does little to counter.

Posted by: pittypat | September 6, 2006 10:36 AM

Um...I think Jon was making what is called a "joke"....bit oversensitive are we? I mean, telling him he will not form any relationships with women in his lifetime on the basis of that one comment is a bit ridiculous.

Posted by: goodgrief | September 6, 2006 10:40 AM

I really can't understand where the hostility comes from with breastfeeding. I breast fed both my children for a year. There was no place in my office to pump, so I went home twice during the day to pump and not once dropped the ball at work. I used my lunchtime as pump time, split 30 minutes each. I did have to put up with a lot of off color jokes about it. There was a sign of the company refrigerator that said, "No human milk allowed." Most of the employees (including women) were grossed out. But I continued.

The day my grandmother died, my son was 2 months old. As my mother was taking care of him for the first year, I brought him to work early to inform my employer of the situation, answer any e-mails that came from overseas over night, and pick up work to take home. Of course a 2-month old is not very cooperative. So when he needed feeding, I shut my door (back when I had one) to breastfeed. Of course my supervisor, burst in the door without knocking wanting to know why I had the door closed! What a jerk!

But I find that it isn't just my office. My sister-in-law is a doctor. The other doctors in the practice made her very uncomfortable about pumping. She did it in her car. If a physician can't tolerate breastfeeding who can?

If you want to do it, be prepared for tears and nasty comments. I have no regrets.

Posted by: justme | September 6, 2006 10:44 AM

I'm currently pumping for my second child (7 mo) and pumped until my first was 9 months. There were 3 of us at work that were pregnant at the same time and planning on pumping when we came back to work. We met with HR and asked that they set aside a room for pumping. I think there was power in numbers and they quickly set up a small room with a table and a mini fridge. I'm now working at home 3 days a week so instead of pumping, I just feed the baby instead.

Yes, I'm very lucky that I work in a technical field where I can do this. Women in low paying jobs get a double whammy, little money AND having to pay for expensive formula.

Posted by: Frederick | September 6, 2006 10:45 AM

Good point pitty pat, I never even thought about teachers. I have a question. I was only able to breast feed for 6 weeks with my daughter because I got sick and before that I had a hard time, so my question is how often do mothers have to pump at work?

Posted by: scarry | September 6, 2006 10:45 AM

I was a SAHM when I was nursing (both times) so I didn't have to do the pumping juggling act. When I did try to pump, for a babystitter for example, it was fairly well a nightmare (lack of pumping experience and supplies,) so I can understand why making the process better known and more acceptable is so important.

One of my favorite bumper stickers (and I hate bumper stickers generally) is, "Affordable health care begins with breastfeeding." Too true, not just physically, digestively, etc., but psycho-spiritually if you will, and emotionally. Its time for us all to take a leap forward in how we relate to our offspring and our common humanity. Breast feeding serves this at its origin, transforming us all. So glad to hear this was covered in the NYT, if only for practical matters, and sure hope we'll hear more on this topic.

As to Jon, I have to concur with the crticisms against your comments. There's no parallel between sperm bank deposits and breastfeeding issues. A little logic would go a long way to bettering your participation in these discussions in the future.

Posted by: Sarah S | September 6, 2006 10:51 AM

"how often do mothers have to pump at work?"

Do you mean how many times a day? My wife pumped 3 times a day when she went back to work after 3 months for each. It tapered down when the kids started eating rice cereal and then other foods. By 11 months, she was able to stop as we had saved a supply in the freezer that would cover their needs for the last month. By then, the kids got cows milk and other foods during the day. She still nursed a bit in the morning and evening. That ended at about 15 months for both.

Posted by: Father of 2 | September 6, 2006 10:51 AM

I pump three times a day at work. That's about the same number of nursings my son would take in a nine to ten hour day.

Posted by: To scarry | September 6, 2006 10:52 AM

As for legislation - the idea could follow the ADA language ie "reasonable accomadation" & whether it interfers with your ability to handle the "primary function".

Creativity goes a long way - for teachers even in elementary school children have art, music, pe that have specialists teaching. Some schedule coordination would allow a pumping session - and you can pump and eat at the same time so there is that lunch break.

I do agree some jobs just won't work - for instance on a road crew, some construction sites, but every effort should be made to help women provide what is best for our future generations.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 10:53 AM

"Creativity goes a long way - for teachers even in elementary school children have art, music, pe that have specialists teaching."

Correction: children USED to have art, music, pe, etc. Nowadays, at least in public school systems, these are considered to be frills.

Yeah, there's lunchtime. A 20-minute break to gobble a sandwich, then out to lunch duty in the schoolyard.

No, pumping for elementary school teachers is pretty much a non-starter. They spend practically every minute of their day being responsible for their students. How do you get two or three pumping sessions in during that kind of a day?

Posted by: pittypat | September 6, 2006 10:54 AM

I pumped at work for about 10 months. I am lucky to have an office and requested a lock. HR initially resisted but, as a manager, I pointed to the constant stream of people in and out of my office (often opening the door w/o knocking). I put a sign up on my door (please do not disturb)and locked it when I was pumping -- the only person who consistently tried to come in while I was pumping was my boss (a mother herself). I initially pumped 4x/day, gradually getting down to 1x/day by month 10 -- and I bought a hands-free device so I could continue to work. I could do everything while I was pumping except see people face to face. After reading that NY Times article, I realize how very good I had it and it bothers me because every mother should have the same opportunity to work and still breastfeed her child should that be her choice.

Posted by: former pumper | September 6, 2006 10:55 AM

On the teacher issue, what about their assistants, if they have any or the PTA volunteers who come in during the day. I would use my lunch break to give a teacher a break to pump.

Posted by: scarry | September 6, 2006 10:57 AM

Scarry,

School teachers generally don't have assistants -- unless they work with special needs kids. But the PTA volunteer idea is a good one. Maybe a school PTA could set up a pool of parents who could be available for class supervision on a rotating basis. Maybe even help out several teacher-mothers at a time by staggering the breaks.

Posted by: pittypat | September 6, 2006 11:01 AM

Maybe I'm just a stupid man, but how much of the benefit of breastmilk/feeding comes from the close bond between parent and child and how much from the actual nutrients?

It seems to me the best options would be:

a.) actual breastfeeding

b.) pumped milk with baby being held while fed.

c.) formula with baby being held while fed.

And the worst possible scenario.

Giving Jr. the bottle and letting him have at it as soon as he can hold it, whether it be breastmilk or formula.

Am I crazy?

Posted by: Mr. EstrogenCentral | September 6, 2006 11:03 AM

To those that encourage moms to continue pumping and be vocal about their needs, I totally agree. I used to be one of those who considered breastfeeding and pumping somewhat gross and mysterious. I had no experience with being around anyone who did it.

Then I had my son, and pumped for him for one year. I found nothing weird about it after my immediate wonder of it all, and just simply felt proud to be able to do it, period. In our culture that puts mothers on a pedestal, isn't breastmilk one of the best gifts (I said *one of the best*, not the only gift) a mother can give her child? I think the tide is turning in this country. Perhaps our children will have a different experience with their perception of breastfeeding, pumping and breastmilk.

To the poster who said breastmilk smells "funky" -- It actually smells and tastes like sweet nectar compared to the heavy, metallic and simply disgusting taste and smell of formula. Perhaps you are confusing the two!

Posted by: Rebecca | September 6, 2006 11:06 AM

I pumped until each of my children was one year old. I'm fortunate to have an office, though I remember one low point in an airport bathroom stall in Miami during an out-of-town trip. That batch got thrown out - I just pumped to relieve the pressure. I can't say that there wasn't some supplementation with formula. It was just too hard to keep up. Especially since I worked full-time during the time my oldest was 4-8 months old.

Regarding time off from work, it seemed to me that pumping 2-3 times a day was made up by working through lunch. Everyone has personal responsiblities they have to take care of during the day, whether it be scheduling doctor's appointments or pumping. You just make up for it in other ways.

Regarding tips - I would always wake my baby up as late as possible before I had to leave at work to get another nursing in to help keep the supply up, and try to fit extra nursings in over the weekend. If you can afford it, it helps to get the high-end, Medela brand pump. Over time, it probably doesn't cost more than formula.

I'm probably one of the minority of people who nursed my children for one year each and do not appreciate women breastfeeding in public. I managed to get by without doing it. Of course, I come from a family where I couldn't do it in front of my Dad or male in-laws. My son had a large appetite, so I spent a large part of the time my family was visiting for his baptism up in my bedroom nursing!

Posted by: Sam | September 6, 2006 11:08 AM

As the mom of an 8 month old, I pump 3x a day at work. My law firm made it very easy for me -- including a free Lactina pump and lactation consultant -- and I can just shut (and lock) my door whenever i need to. Anyone trying to pump at work (or at home) should get one of the harnesses so you have your hands free to do something else while you pump. As for washing your pumping supplies, I have moist towelette things from Medela that are like wash and dries. They clean up the pump equipment and then I wipe down the area in case anything splashed. I bought a little mini fridge to put under my desk so it's all close by and not sitting next to someone's enchiladas! Even as easy as it is for me to pump, my supply is still going down. I can't imagine how tough it is for other women, especially those whose maternity leaves didn't give them enough time to build up a good freezer supply. Companies should listen to the needs of nursing moms -- the help that my company gave me with nursing, coupled with their willingness to let me switch to a part time schedule, actually convinced me to turn down two jobs with the federal government.

Posted by: Amy | September 6, 2006 11:21 AM

I breast feed and pump at the office. But I think women who do so should be considerate of their coworkers -- some of whom might be uncomfortable with seeing breastmilk in the refrigerator. Whether or not you agree with their discomfort and feel they should just "get over it," it is afterall a place of business where what's best for YOUR child is not necessarily paramount (nor should be) on the minds of your colleagues. I've found it's pretty simple to take simple measures to be discreet - for example, placing a grocery bag over the plastic one storing the breastmilk in the freezer. I think the in your face "it's natural therefore I'm entitled to do it whenever, wherever and however I want" attitude of many mothers really rubs non-parents the wrong way.

Posted by: Just saying | September 6, 2006 11:22 AM

I wonder what recommendations breastfeeding advocacy groups have for factory and service workers. Surely people are working on this. A lot of groups, including some state and local government agencies, give awards to employers who are breastfeeding friendly. One group in California had this on their website: "Breastfeeding friendly workplaces have been shown to decrease employee absenteeism by up to 57% due to the health benefits for both mother and baby, while enhancing employee productivity, loyalty, and morale."

Posted by: Tracy | September 6, 2006 11:26 AM


I do wonder if legislation was passed that made it possible for all women who wanted to pump at work to do so, and it is made commonplace, whether the current advocates and promoters of breastfeeding and pumping would promote another practice, like breastfeeding is, as something that smart, educated, thinking, non-abusive mothers do, i.e. the professional and educated classes. Though the stated reason a lot of people breastfeed is that it is best for the child, which might actually be true, it also has a lot to do with signaling. After all, if you breastfeed, it sends a very clear signal who are, a mother, and how you want to be perceived, and one is that you are separate from people who bottlefeed, those who are not smart and educated.

Posted by: d | September 6, 2006 11:28 AM

For the poster who asked about whether the nutrients in breast milk are important - yes. The baby does recieve antibodies from the mom so they are less likely to get sick (less likely sometimes they still get sick) and though formulas are getting better the balance of nutrients, fats protiens etc in breast milk are exactly what a human baby needs (its those eons of evolution or the way God planned it depending on your belief system)

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 11:28 AM

"After all, if you breastfeed, it sends a very clear signal who are, a mother, and how you want to be perceived, and one is that you are separate from people who bottlefeed, those who are not smart and educated."

I was 24 and had just a high school education when my son was born. I decided to breasfeed for practical reasons.
- We were poor and breastmilk was FREE.
- I didn't like the idea of having to mess around with formula, sterilizing bottles, etc.
- Breastmilk was always available.
- I knew it was better for the baby and he would be less likely to get sick (he never got so much as a sniffle until he was weaned)
As it turned out breasfeeding was also good for me. I lost weight like crazy while nursing my son.

One note, I was a stay at home mom during his infancy.

Posted by: To, d | September 6, 2006 11:35 AM

"smart, educated, thinking, non-abusive mothers do, i.e. the professional and educated and educated classes."

Do you have any stats to back that up?

Sounds pretty arrogant......

Posted by: Margo | September 6, 2006 11:36 AM

As a couple of people have pointed out, this is really about the type of job you have. I don't see why employers of hourly workers should spend more money on pumping facilities and then also give that group of women time off to pump--particularly since pumping is a UMC fixation and not that many poor women are interested. I bet the Times got a showcase from La Lache for the article.

If the best you can do is a job at Starbucks once you're a parent, then be happy you've got a job. I doubt very much many of that group can afford all the expensive pumping gear, anyway. A non-problem in search of Leslie to bleed about it.

And to forestall the usual bleats about my experience, I pumped. I pumped in the restroom at work and never really thought much about it--as did the other women who pumped (not many). I did it for about 3 months, because the time my son was six months, I could quickly pump 8 ounces morning and night and 16 ounces got him through the day once he was eating solids.

I was living on a boat at the time, and as I am not the most organized of people, I'd always finish pumping, put the bottle on the counter, get up and find a top. One day, I knocked over the bottle before I found the top. Oh well, no point crying about it. So I just sat down and pumped 8 more. (My daycare provider at the time referred to me in unseemly bovine terms, but I'm sure she was just jealous.)

I mention this because most people assume that anyone unsympathetic to the various wails for better treatment has never experienced the situation in question. Wrong. Some people manage quite nicely because they don't think parenting and breastfeeding and the like are all that terribly difficult once you have a reasonable level of intelligence and flexibility. Poor working women may not have the first and definitely don't have the second. So? It's great they have a job. Don't make them more expensive to hire.

Posted by: Cal | September 6, 2006 11:41 AM

"Do you have any stats to back that up?"

Back up the fact that most breastfeeders in the US are educated women? Do you want stats on the shape of the earth, as well?

Posted by: Cal | September 6, 2006 11:49 AM

Great to see your post again, Cal. This blog just wasn't caustic enough already.

Posted by: Welcome Back Cal | September 6, 2006 11:50 AM

Please back up the fact that most breatfeeders in the U.S. are non-abusive.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 11:53 AM

"Pump supporter" -- you are not, so you should change your "name"

Posted by: to pump supporter | September 6, 2006 11:53 AM

I pumped at work for both my kids, twice a day -- once around lunchtime and once at the end of my day. With my second child, it was less successful b/c I had to be in court a lot. I did not have a lock on either door. I wish I did. With my first child, I was pumping and there was a knock on my office door (which had a "do not disturb" sign on it). "Yes?" I called out, and the fool had the nerve to open the door. It was a female coworker who was in a rush to get me to join her carpool. My back was to her, so I turned my head and calmly and firmly said (without stopping or removing a thing), "I will be with you in a minute." She left and had the good sense to not return.

That office also had windows near the ceiling. One day, something told me to eat lunch first, then pump. Good thing, because workers had been called in to change the ceiling lights, and I saw a guy looking down through my window at me. I waved. Imagine if I had been pumping! I told my woooonderful HR person, who said, "I didn't know you were nursing." No, dimwit, I only do it every day at the same time. She really didn't care.

With my second child, I was pumping at the end of the day. A coworker who had pumped advised me to add "nursing" or "pumping" to my "do not disturb" sign. Yes, some folks were that clueless there. I did, but a cleaning person at the end of the day knocked and then opened the door before I called out to her to stop.

To store the milk, I used a cooler bag that was in one of those infamous formula/breastfeeding success goody bags the hospitals gave me. I put the bag in the fridge. No problem.

Attitudes are everything. I didn't have a perfect work pumping situation (although it could have been worse) largely because of attitude.

Sometimes, you need to fight attitude with attitude. Not with a bad attitude, but with a polite, firm message that you are doing something health-related and necessary, and you want some accommodation. Employers who don't get it when it comes to accommodating needs have a revolving door.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | September 6, 2006 11:55 AM

One more note: To avoid buying a harness so you can pump hands-free, instead, try spending $2 at Target for a roll of 2" wide masking tape. I used that to tape on each "horn" across the top and it worked perfectly (stickiness was not too excessive, but worked just right).

I have to credit DH for this, as I was initially quite doubtful. But it allowed me to read during the pumping time and probably prolonged the time I was willing to pump.

Posted by: Rebecca | September 6, 2006 11:55 AM

This entire discussion could be avoided if breasts weren't regarded as "private parts." I mean, they're just breasts. They aren't used in copulation or reproduction, so I don't understand why they are so sexualized. I don't see anything wrong with a woman breastfeeding in public if she is discreet. I used to work at a restaurant, and rather than removing the child from a family dinner to nurse in a restroom, most women did it right there at the table, using a freshly laundered napkin to cover the baby's head and the offending breast. I was never distracted or disgusted by the sight of a napkin over a woman's shoulder and breast, and it didn't take away from my ability to do my job, or her or the other diners' pleasure. I personally find breastfeeding to be distasteful to watch, but there are lots of other things that are distasteful that are commonly accepted; the sight of babies eating mashed peas out of a jar is equally disgusting, as is an obese person wearing booty shorts. But no one says anything about that. They're just breasts, after all. Everyone has them babies need them for food. I wish we could all just lighten up and if we see something we deem ugly, hey, how about looking at the woman's face when you talk to her? That's really what you ought to be doing anyway.

As for pumping, I have absolutely no experience in this area. I think most moms should be able to improvise, but there were points brought up regarding teachers and servers/bartenders. After being a server/bartender throughout college, I know that often there are hours--sometimes an entire shift--that are so busy that you cannot even use the restroom, let alone spend thirty minutes in there pumping. I can't imagine how hard blue-collar moms have it when they have to pump, but I do know that something has to change. It's just downright cruel to not allow a woman 30 minutes a day to pump for her child, not to mention relieve the pressure that must build up in her breasts.

Posted by: Mona | September 6, 2006 11:56 AM

On pumping at work:

I bought 3 sets of horns because I was sick of using the Medela wipes. I just clean everything at night.

Posted by: another DC mom | September 6, 2006 12:00 PM

Regarding teachers being able to take breaks to pump...

Well, my sister-in-law is a teacher, and she did it for about a year with each of her kids. It is true that it had some challenges. I think she had to sometimes pump in the bathroom or even the coatroom of her classroom while the kids were at recess. I also think the schedule of the day could change a bit so she wouldn't necessarily have the same opportunities each day to pump. But I think between her lunch hour and a planning period and maybe an occasional break while her teaching assistant took over, she managed to make do. But I guess it's like many things, you have to want to do it bad enough to deal with the difficulties. My S-I-L had a fairly supportive principal who tried to accommodate her as best she could so support from the boss can be very important too.

I think Scarry asked how often one needs to pump during the day. I usually pumped 2 or 3 times and then bf as soon as I arrived at daycare.

I personally find nothing wrong with breastfeeding in public (at least most places) but it's fairly easy not to be "in-your-face" about it. Having to always run someplace to hide just so that some potential random person might not be embarassed is in itself an impediment to breastfeeding. Especially since most of the time people can't see what you're doing anyway.

And storing breast milk in the refrigerator at work doesn't need to be a big deal either. I actually stored bottles in an insulated bag that I would put in the refrigerator so for all anyone could tell, it would look like my lunch.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | September 6, 2006 12:01 PM

I would like to see more employers realize that it is in their best interest to make reasonable accomodations to pumping moms. 15 minutes a day and a private room could substantially reduce unexpected absenteeism due to child illness. My baby has been in day care since 3 months and has had no more than the sniffles - I attribute this partly to breastfeeding. Not to mention that we all benefit from having the next generation be as smart and healthy as possible. Children of low-income moms - the moms that are going to have the hardest time pumping and bfeeding - are the most likely to have health care costs subsidized by our tax dollars. Just from fiscal standpoint, I would like them to be as healthy as possible...

I also wish that more doctors, nurses, lactation consultants, and media would educate women that bfing does not have to be an all or nothing thing. For many women, it is possible to bfeed in the am and pm, and perhaps pump once or twice during the day during scheduled breaks (the breaks everyone else gets, for all of you folks obsessed with so-called "equality"), and supplement with formula. Studies suggest that any breastmilk is beneficial, for as long as one can manage, and I think many new moms think that they must give it up entirely when they go back to work.

Posted by: a pumping mom | September 6, 2006 12:02 PM

I have been pumping for over a year for my now 1 1/2 year old son. I have often thought how lucky I am that I have my own office and a fridge under my desk. I also rent a hospital grade pump that I leave on my desk; it's an expensive enterprise, but still cheaper than formula. And best of all I get to continue breastfeeding my son on the days that I am home (I work part time) instead of having to force him to wean far before he is ready.

Keep on pumping moms!

Posted by: Mama Duck | September 6, 2006 12:03 PM

There are two ways to look at it.

People are really just animals. So you have five kids and breastfed them all? Well, my hamster did too, only her kids are a litter. People should forget this whole society and get back to nature. Breasts are totally natural, and we shouldn't be forced to cover them or hide them. We should do as much stuff naturally as possible, like grow our own food with no pesticides, never eat animals (that's like eating us!), use renewable energy like solar power, eschew all the trappings of modern technology, and, of course, breastfeed.

OR

People are "higher" animals because of our brains. We created a society that differentiates from our minds and our bodies. We cover our reproductive organs because we're smart enough to! Dogs pee in the street, not people; we're better! Our technology lets us escape nature and live longer, healthier lives. We have the ability to control nature and should do it to make our lives easier, like have C-sections, vaccinate, have tests done on the baby before it's born to make sure things are fine, freeze food, and, of course, use formula when you have to.


Please don't argue that breastfeeding is "natural" and therefore perfect and good and admirable. You can argue that it's good for the baby, but that's about it. We as humans don't do much that's "natural" anymore, so let's not pretend that breastfeeding is about reconnecting with nature.

That being said, because it's beneficial for the baby, there is no reason not to have pumping rooms and short breaks during the day. I personally find it gross to have breastmilk in the fridge, but there are people who don't like me reheating fish for lunch. I don't bring it in to be polite, but I know that working moms don't have that option.

Posted by: anon because I'm being a smartass | September 6, 2006 12:05 PM

""Pump supporter" -- you are not, so you should change your "name""

Oh, I see. So to support a woman pumping at work, I have to support a woman taking 2 to 3 20-30 minute "breaks" during the work day - possibly doing less work than when not pumping?

Yes, "professionals" can read or write things when pumping so work efficiency isn't lowered. However, what about the person working at Starbucks or McDonalds? They cannot work while pumping. Do they deserve extra paid breaks? Heck no. Do I deserve 2 to 3 20-30 minutes breaks each day to go for a walk?

I'm just saying be "fair". If people expect pumping women to get "free" time off to do it, give the same amount of "free" time to EVERYBODY. But that's crazy.

Posted by: Pump supporter | September 6, 2006 12:05 PM

Thanks for the information on how much you have to pump. I'm hoping that I will have better luck with the next baby than I did with my daughter.

Posted by: scarry | September 6, 2006 12:10 PM

On the regulation issue, it is feasible - I know I've posted this before, but two states (CO and CT) currently have statutes that require employers over a certain size to allow nursing mothers two breaks to pump each day. CT also requires them to provide a private space that is not a bathroom, while CO "recommends" that but doesn't require it. CT's law has been in place for I think two years now, and as far as I know the economy has not come crashing down.

To the person who asked for helpful tips - I mentioned this another time as well, but the little sterilizing wipes made by Medela are great if you don't have time/place to wash the horns etc.

Posted by: Megan | September 6, 2006 12:12 PM

"But I think between her lunch hour and a planning period and maybe an occasional break while her teaching assistant took over, she managed to make do."

Don't know too many public elementary school teachers who have a lunch "hour," a planning period, or a teaching assistant. (And I know a lot of 'em, even though I'm not one, myself).

Lunch is usually a hastily swallowed sandwich followed by a quick pee and then outdoor duty 'til the lunch period is over.

Planning periods, which classroom teachers used to enjoy when their groups were scheduled for art, music, or pe, no longer have these free chunks of time, as increasingly these subjects are being eliminated from the curriculum as unnecessary.

And, again, teaching assistants are generally available only for special education teachers, who may have several difficult-to-manage kids in their classes.

It would be interesting to hear from some of these women about their experiences with the bf/pumping issue. However, they're all working right now (at jobs that don't allow them to sit at computers like we can!), and by the time they get home, get dinner, get the kids to bed, etc., most are too exhausted to check the mommy blog to see how the other half lives.


Lunch

Posted by: pittypat | September 6, 2006 12:14 PM

There are two of us using this name.

Posted by: To pump supporter | September 6, 2006 12:15 PM

Margo

Here is link to a cdc report which mentions what I was talking about. The report stated that "In all states with income measures, the prevalence of breastfeeding initiation increased with higher income level; women with incomes of <100% FPL and 101%--200% FPL reported lower rates of breastfeeding than women with higher incomes"

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5304a1.htm

And as income is strongly linked to education levels then one could say that educated people breastfeed at higher rates. I don't see how that could be construed as arrogant; it is just the way it is.

Remember, its all about signaling!Breastfeeding is promoted as something that mothers who care about their children's health and welfare, etc. do, and therefore if you are not breastfeeding, and by this definition of good parenting, you don't care about your children's health and welfare. So if you want to define yourself as a professional educated person, breastfeeding is one of the behaviors one could use to signal who you are or want to be.

Posted by: d | September 6, 2006 12:22 PM

There are two of us using this name.

Posted by: To pump supporter | September 6, 2006 12:15 PM

--------------------

Which is why the unimaginative (i.e. those who can't think of a simple name) should not post.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 12:22 PM

There are two of us using this name.

Posted by: To pump supporter | September 6, 2006 12:15 PM

--------------------

Which is why the unimaginative (i.e. those who can't think of a simple name) should not post.

Posted by: | September 6, 2006 12:22 PM

So that should include you too, right? :)

Posted by: Unimaginative | September 6, 2006 12:22 PM

"Which is why the unimaginative (i.e. those who can't think of a simple name) should not post."

This from an anonymous poster - thanks for the laugh

Posted by: To pump supporter | September 6, 2006 12:24 PM

d's report also says "those with <12 years of education, and those with low incomes reported the lowest rates of breastfeeding initiation "

There ya go. Less than 12 years of eduation reported lowest rates of breastfeeding.

Posted by: Pump supporter | September 6, 2006 12:26 PM

Mona, A woman's breast is a reproductive organ. It's only purpose is to feed offspring (it doesn't digest food or pump blood). It is therefore involved in reproduction. We cover our parts between our legs for the same reasons, so that's why women cover their breasts. That's society'r rule, not mine.

It's very confusing to tout the life-or-death importance of breastfeeding and then say that breasts aren't involved in reproduction. Um, huh?

Posted by: Meesh | September 6, 2006 12:32 PM

Wait, we're sitting here on the blog lamenting the situations of mothers in service jobs who can't breastfeed and someone wanted facts to back-up the assertion that mothers of lower SES and education have the lowest instances of breastfeeding?!?!?!

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

Posted by: Meesh | September 6, 2006 12:41 PM

to
"d's report also says "those with <12 years of education, and those with low incomes reported the lowest rates of breastfeeding initiation "

There ya go. Less than 12 years of eduation reported lowest rates of breastfeeding."

Most of the low-income mothers qualify for free formula, which they receive with DOCTORS' recommendations. Do you know anything about the real world?

I was asking about stats concerning the "non-abusive" portion of the statement.

Posted by: Margo | September 6, 2006 12:43 PM

I've been reading this blog for quite a while now. I've noticed that a lot of the posters mention their high levels of education, good jobs that aford them private offices, etc... I just have a highschool education and work in a cubicle. I've always sort of put the higher educated among us on a pedestal, then I started reading this blog that seems to denegrates into insult trading everyday. Can we not make our arguments, present our points of view, even disagree without sinking to insults and namecalling?

Posted by: Melt | September 6, 2006 12:49 PM

*I'm just saying be "fair". If people expect pumping women to get "free" time off to do it, give the same amount of "free" time to EVERYBODY. But that's crazy.**

I agree. Amy Joyce's discussion yesterday had an entry explaining equal opportunity in the workplace being about equal benefits for all employees. Why not a one-hour health break (or 3 20 minute breaks) per day for EVERY employee. some could breastfeed (this for the child's health), others could exercise (for their own health), and the sleep-deprived could nap (also for their own health).

I don't want breastmilk in the employee fridge because there's barely enough room for the employees to put their own lunches? You should bring your own cooler/ice-packs. How would you like it if I went to the grocery store for my family's dinner during lunch time and then stored it in the employees fridge?

A lot of self-important entitled people here. I should be able to work, bf, take breaks, have flexibility, extended maternity leave, not have my career suffer, etc, because I'm smart and educated, and it's best for my baby and for me,me,me.

BF is natural, pumping isn't.

Do what you want for your kids, but be willing to make adjustments and don't expect the workplace and all co-workers to be supportive of your decisions.

Posted by: I have 2 kids myself | September 6, 2006 12:52 PM

And it is possible (doh!) that the women with less education are in the service jobs not friendly to breast feeding. Kind of figures that they would be less likely to do it.

Correlation is not causation folks!

Posted by: Ed. V. BF | September 6, 2006 12:54 PM

I am in the same boat you are. Have you figured out that there are a whole lot of educated people who are no more intelligent than you are? They just had the opportunity to get the formal education. They are also not better people because they have been educated. And they certainly have no more common sense.

Posted by: to melt | September 6, 2006 12:57 PM

Meesh --

From a purely physiological standpoint, breasts are not part of the female reproductive system. That is why women who have had breast surgery or amputation are still perfectly capable of conceiving and bearing children.

Melt --

Yeah, this is pretty funny. I read the blog everyday for entertainment and amusement, and sometimes I'm drawn to post, and sometimes I even get into silly round-robins with other posters. You find out really quickly how easy it is to be sucked into the blogosphere!

No matter how earnestly the responses begin each morning (today being an exception, what with Mister Sperm-Freeze being the first poster), they almost always degenerate into personal commentary and interpersonal bickering.

And, yeah, people do seem to need to show off about something -- how educated they are, how much money they make, what terrific parents they are, how long and effectively they've breastfed, etc., etc.

But, given the daily topics on this blog, I don't know that there are a lot of other ways to go. I mean, how long can any group of people outside of a La Leche meeting go on about breastfeeding? I mean, come on. How interesting is that?

Posted by: pittypat | September 6, 2006 1:03 PM


Margo

As to the abuse question, its not so much about the statistics, its about the perception of who is a good or a bad parent. I recall an uproar about an ad campaign, intended to promote breast feeding which was to have included an ad that equated not breastfeeding to riding a mechanical bull while pregnant. I don't think that it is a big leap that argue that the promoters of breastfeeding, who developed this ad campaign, would view breastfeeding as akin to abuse.

Posted by: d | September 6, 2006 1:05 PM

correct last line of 1:05 post from d to read

"would view not breastfeeding as akin to abuse."

Posted by: d | September 6, 2006 1:08 PM

wow, does anyone really know someone whose primary reason for breastfeeding is "signaling"? ...that's just bizarre.

there always seem to be disputes about treating everyone fairly (e.g., equal amounts of breaks and nonwork time for everyone, or the same tax breaks for breeders and nonbreeders, etc.), but isn't it actually in society's best interest (and probably businesses' too) that we raise healthy children. the short-term sacrifices when it comes to breastfeeding (extra breaks, accommodations, etc.) seem far outweighed by the potential longterm impacts: possibly less sick days the employee takes off to take care of the child later on, less worker turnover/higher employee morale, less tax money spent on formula, the growing of future consumers, and the fact that the recipient of the milk will one day be paying taxes and or pushing one of us around when we're in wheel chairs.

breastfeeding seems like one of those things we should support at all levels of society for those who wish to pursue it.

Posted by: marc | September 6, 2006 1:16 PM

"The female reproductive system is more complex than that of the male. It produces ova (egg cells); nourishes, carries, and protects the developing embryo; and nurses the newborn after birth. The system structures are the ovary, uterine tubes, uterus, vagina, vulva, and mammary glands."

http://www.besthealth.com/besthealth/bodyguide/reftext/html/repr_sys_fin.html#female

Women can also have babies without actually having sex. Just because technology makes it possible to feed kids without breasts doesn't mean that breasts don't play a role in reproduction. That's why animal babies die when their mothers refuse to nurse them (unless another animals feeds them, of course).

Posted by: Meesh | September 6, 2006 1:30 PM

Meesh --

Reproducing life and sustaining life are two different things. My point is, again strictly physiologically, that women do not need breasts to reproduce -- only to sustain. And, as we know, that can be done without breasts, as well.

Posted by: pittypat | September 6, 2006 1:36 PM

Do what you want for your kids, but be willing to make adjustments and don't expect the workplace and all co-workers to be supportive of your decisions."

Absolutely! A job is a JOB. Your work is not the place to expect coddling and lots of special treatment. If you want that, make an effort to find a workplace that is supportive of it. Not everyone is so blessed to work in single offices and have a lot of time to go off and "pump".

Posted by: Get to work | September 6, 2006 1:42 PM

Does it really matter whether or not the breasts are part of the reproductive system? What matters is what is socially acceptable. There are some societies where it is not acceptable for a women to wear shorts. What is acceptable here is very different from what is acceptable in Saudia Arabia. There are nudist colonies. There are topless beaches. The focus should be on making breastfeeding socially acceptable. Being discreet will make it easier. The easiest people to educate are your family and close friends. If your little sister sees you doing it discreetly she will be more willing herself. If your five-yr old sees you do it with the baby he will assume it is normal and will be less freaked out when he is older. I think part of the reason people are uncomfortable is we had a generation where it wasn't that common and even when it was it was a "women's thing"

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 1:46 PM

Why are we wasting our energy on breast feeding when so many larger and more important issues for working mothers exist?

A child is nursed a small proportion of the time a Mom cares for them. What Moms really need is equal pay and better more flexible jobs.

Instead of patting ourselves on the back for crumbs that really don't last very long why not concentrate on the real prize - flexible jobs and equal pay.

We shouldn't settle for this 'feel good' bone being thrown to us.

Posted by: BiggerIssues | September 6, 2006 1:55 PM

I pumped once a day at work. I nursed the last second before I left home (about 7:30 am) and as soon as I picked up my son (about 5:30 pm) and pumped somewhere in the middle, about lunch time. The first few days were hard--pretty painful by about noon, and then by 4:00, but my body adjusted to the new schedule. On Monday-Wed I'd have no problem pumping 10-12 ounces, by Friday it was more like 6-8. (On weekends I would nurse around the clock to stimulate production back up.) I would hand whatever I pumped to the sitter when I picked up my son and she'd give me the empties. He got formula for any feeding after the day's milk ran out.

I did not go back to work full time until he was 3 months old, so my supply was well-established. Pumping only once a day worked well for me because it only took 20 minutes out of the day and I didn't have to wash or sterilize anything during the day--I just took everything home. I could also live with the formula supplement since 90% of the feedings were BF. Once my son started on solids I dropped the pumping/milk drop off and he nursed in the morning, at night, and on weekends and had formula during the day.

This won't work for everyone, I know a lot of people need to nurse or pump much more frequently to keep up their supply. And I've gotten some criticism for the formula supplements (apparently it is "harmful"--when lots of babies get NO breastmilk at all!) But I would encourage people to try to pump and see if you can deal with the hassles, or to see if a combination of nursing and formula will work before you stop BFing completely.

Posted by: Arlmom | September 6, 2006 1:56 PM

Breastfeeding mothers are not abusive? Excuse me? I was breastfed (I don't remember it, thank God -- GAG!) and my mother was one of the most abusive people I've ever met. She would not hesitate to slap the bejeepers out of us in addition to verbal abuse with no provocation. She couldn't stand to be in the same room with her children.
This blog reminds me of a line from "Murphy Brown" -- in one episode after Murphy spawned she went back to her office for a visit. She had to cut short the visit because 'Old Bessie has to get back to the barn.' Direct quote from the show -- don't shoot the messenger.
Here the smokers are entitled to unlimited smoke breaks. The pumping sows are entitled to pumping breaks. We non-smoking non-parents have to actually work for a living. Life is tough, ya know.

Posted by: Childless by Choice | September 6, 2006 1:56 PM

"The focus should be on making breastfeeding socially acceptable."

Why?

Posted by: blinky | September 6, 2006 1:58 PM

Childless by Choice - if your mother was so abusive I hope you are in counseling. Maybe your company could provide this benefit? Your counselor cost vs. my share of the cost for the lactation room. How is that for a trade?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 2:01 PM

I am strongly in favor of breastfeeding, for any woman who can do so, for the benefit of the child and of society as a whole. In my personal opinion, there is nothing wrong with breastfeeding in public or at work. I agree with the people who stated that the breast is "meant for" feeding the baby. I also agree with the people who would prefer not to have tax dollars go towards buying formula, which is a poor substitute for real human milk. If there is some way to make it possible for all mothers, including low-income mothers with inflexible jobs, to breastfeed and to pump milk for their babies, I think we should do so. I like the idea of one person on this board, of giving everyone three 20-minute breaks during their workday - - - that is fair and should not be too much of a burden on employers. And Jon, if you wish to put sperm in the freezer at work I really don't mind, but I wonder what is the purpose for that? Are you planning to thaw it out and implant it later in the day? The breast milk will actually be used, but I would think you'd prefer a more "natural" method of implanting your sperm. Just my opinion.

Posted by: okey dokey | September 6, 2006 2:03 PM

Not to go off-topic, but the counseler cost idea sounds interesting...also would be easier to see my therapist if I got to leave early once a week. Another other ways to balance our personal issues? Really am curious - do anyone else have "needs" they feel should be met?

Posted by: hmmmm | September 6, 2006 2:04 PM

Breastfeeding should be socially acceptable because it is better for the babies, especially their health (less dr visits = lower medical insurance, less missed work days). The more socially acceptable breastfeeding is the more it is likely to be done.

Posted by: to blink | September 6, 2006 2:05 PM

Do all these people who get so grossed out by the thought of human milk in the communal fridge get similarly worked up over cow or goat milk?

Posted by: Brookland | September 6, 2006 2:07 PM

Also, all the pro-breastfeeding rhetoric focuses on the benefits to the baby excessively, IMO. It also has health benefits for the mother, including lower rates of breast and ovarian cancer. It also makes it a heck of a lot easier to take that pregnancy weight off.

Posted by: Brookland | September 6, 2006 2:10 PM

What I find really ammusing are the people posting here who are complaining about pumping moms needing extra breaks, when obviously the complainers as well as the rest of us are spending a good part of our day "blogging".

Posted by: Melt | September 6, 2006 2:11 PM

"However, it completely ignores an entire class of workers for whom such breaks are an impossibility because of their responsibilities: schoolteachers -- particularly in elementary schools. These people are on duty all the time. And public schools aren't staffed in such a way that someone else can 'cover for" a pumping mother.'"

What happened to elementary schools? When I was in elementary school I spent most of the school day with the same teacher but switched to another teacher for gym, art, etc. During lunch and recess it was common for one teacher to "cover for" several teachers.

"Everyone has personal responsiblities they have to take care of during the day, whether it be scheduling doctor's appointments or pumping. You just make up for it in other ways."

Good point. It's awkward when you have to make a phone call that's personal on your end (so some people expect you to call outside office hours) and business on the other (so calling outside office hours might make asking a couple of questions take a few days of phone tag).

"I agree. Amy Joyce's discussion yesterday had an entry explaining equal opportunity in the workplace being about equal benefits for all employees."

Another good point.

Posted by: Maria | September 6, 2006 2:17 PM

to the poster who suggested that non-professionals can't even afford pumping machines so the issue of them having time and place to pump is irrelevant, you are incorrect. Actually, hand pumps are very inexpensive-- I think it was around $30 for the whole set-up for a hand-powered pump (Avent brand). Besides, you can rent the powerful, expensive ones or buy them cheap on Ebay or craigslist (you can buy used without any fear for contamination-- although the producers of course don't want people to know that!) In any case, as an earlier poster mentioned even buying a brand new power pump is cheaper than buying formula so it should work economically for people to pump-- that is assuming the employer will let them!

Posted by: Capitol Hill | September 6, 2006 2:17 PM

A real "giant leap" in breast feeding would be to find a way for men to breastfeed.

Of course, those that did would be even more ostracized than the women who choose to.

Posted by: Me | September 6, 2006 2:19 PM

"Do all these people who get so grossed out by the thought of human milk in the communal fridge get similarly worked up over cow or goat milk?"

I'm not grossed out by it. Then again, I'm not one of those moochers who eats and drinks coworkers' stuff out of the communal fridge and might drink someone else's human milk in it...

Posted by: Maria | September 6, 2006 2:19 PM

I really liked the suggestion about 1 hour of health time per day ;) That would accomadate smokers, mothers, and people who want to work out. Of course that would probably just extend your working shift by an extra hour, but it would be nice :)

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 2:20 PM

"A real 'giant leap' in breast feeding would be to find a way for men to breastfeed."

Good one! Ever hear the old saying about how, if men were the ones giving birth, every family would have only one kid?

Posted by: pittypat | September 6, 2006 2:21 PM

I think the controversy here is that when people make a choice (and having a family is a choice), and then expect to get compensation from employers and coworkers for having made that choice.

As far as I am concerned, I support bf'ing, but I also don't see that it is the employer or coworkers jobs to make that choice a luxury and give some employees more "benefits" than others. The request for special rooms and time off for bf'ing is just elitism, IMHO. You've made the decision, *YOU* make the sacrifices that are necessary to make that choice work.

This doesn't mean that I am unsympathetic. I think that people need to accept that bf'ing is a part of life and get over it. If it happens in public, as long as it is discrete, it isn't anyone else's business. I think that in an office environment that time/breaks should be allowed as long as the mother makes up the time. This is the same as any person taking off time for a smoking break (and in our office, people taking smoking breaks are expected to make up the time), a break to run to the post office, or any other time off. No one monitors it, but you are an adult and expected to act like it.

If your office has someplace private that you can use (like a conference room, an unused office or lounge), that's great. If your office doesn't provide a location for you to feed, make some allowances. I know one woman who used to bring in a bedsheet and would pin it up over her cubicle entrance when she would pump. I know a few mothers who wear bf'ing blouses that have an opening for the breasts and a outer layers which hangs down like a shawl covering the front. You can put the baby underneath the outer layer and the baby can feed and you can't see the breasts or the feeding. Wear a blouse like that for pumping. Or make/buy a poncho to pump under. You can get one of those cheap bifold screens to set up in the lounge/office with a window by the door, etc to conceal yourself when you are pumping. If your coworkers don't like the milk in the communal freezer, hide it in a lunch bag (nylon ones cost about $6 at chez Target and look like anyone else's lunch) or get one of those plug in coolers that you can keep under your desk (they only cost about $30...less than your pump costs); you can get one that has both an AC plug and a car-lighter plug to take the frozen milk home and keep it cool on the way. Make the situation work without demanding more from employers and coworkers.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | September 6, 2006 2:21 PM

"It also makes it a heck of a lot easier to take that pregnancy weight off."

This is not necessarily true. For many women, the body holds on to extra fat stores during the time they are breastfeeding. And some women who formula feed (like me) lose the weight almost instantly (I think it took me 3 weeks to get to pre-pregnancy weight and 6 to get into my old clothes) even when using formula.

Posted by: Jolie | September 6, 2006 2:23 PM

I rode my motorcycle with my new girlfriend on the back to Burke Lake Park. As we dismounted in front of the ice cream store, I noticed what looked to be a 15 or maybe 16 year old girl sitting on a boulder licking an ice cream cone. Strikingly beautiful, she appeared as if she hadn't a worry in the world. her blouse was unbuttoned all the way down, completely exposing her right breast. Latched on to her left nipple was a tiny but considerably plump and very, very happy baby.

My girlfriend started the conversation with the young mother by asking her the baby's name. further along in the conversation, we found out that mom was from Sweden and was visiting family. then my girlfriend asked the mom permision to hold the baby. Then it was my turn. I felt awkward, and I could feel myself blushing. The young mother, though about 10 years my junior seemed cool as a cucumber as she dried herself off and buttoned up her blouse. It was the first time I ever help a baby as an adult, and I was already 24 years old.

There is something incredibly beautiful and peaceful I find from witnessing a mother breastfeed her baby. It's one of those elements about women that make them magic.

And the girlfriend on the back of my motorcycle? Well, I married her.

Posted by: Father of 4 | September 6, 2006 2:23 PM

"A real 'giant leap' in breast feeding would be to find a way for men to breastfeed."

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?click_id=117&art_id=ct20021030223759931B6231781&set_id=1

Sri Lankan widower breastfeeds his babies

October 30 2002 at 10:38PM

Colombo - A 38-year-old Sri Lankan man, whose wife had died three months ago, appears to have the ability to breastfeed his two infant daughters, doctors said on Wednesday.

The man, from the central town of Walapone, lost his wife during childbirth.

"My eldest daughter refused to be fed with powdered milk liquid in the feeding bottle.

"I was so moved one evening and to stop her crying I offered my breast. I then realised that I was capable of breastfeeding her," the man admitted.

Dr Kamal Jayasinghe, deputy director of a Sri Lankan government hospital, was quoted as saying it was possible for men to produce milk if the prolactine hormone became hyperactive. - Sapa-AFP

Posted by: Maria | September 6, 2006 2:25 PM

One thing I haven't seen addressed here and just out of curiosity since I haven't breast fed in over 18 years. I nursed my son for 7 months, had plenty of milk, no problem. But, I was never able to pump successfully. No matter how full I was, I couldn't get the let down reflex while pumping. Tried everything, went out and bought an expensive electric breastpump. Still no luck. I could never get more than a dribble. Luckily I wasn't working, because I was tied to the baby constantly. Has anyone else had this problem?

Posted by: Melt | September 6, 2006 2:27 PM

>>> wow, does anyone really know someone whose primary reason for breastfeeding is "signaling"? ...that's just bizarre. >>>

This type of discussion is very prevalent among academic-types, like women's studies professors and sociology professors etc. I heard it ad-nauseam while in graduate school. Basically, women who use terms like *signaling* do things only to make a statement to other stupid, less educated, Prole-types. But what they fail to understand is that no one cares.

Posted by: to marc | September 6, 2006 2:33 PM

For dadwannabe: Saying that a special room for pumping/breastfeeding is a luxury is in the same category as saying that handicapped accessible cubicles, elevators with braille, etc are "luxuries". The whole point of the NYT article is that a private place should NOT be a luxury. I don't think any women are asking to be excused from work with pay to pump, but flex scheduling or even clocking out for some pumping time can be very helpful. Also, healthy women and children should be considered a social (not private) responsibility. For the mother, breast feeding lessens likelihood of excessive bleeding after childbirth and breast cancer later. For the baby, it builds the immune system, decreases likelihood of allergies, decreases risk of obesity. Since we all pay when others are sick, it really benefits us all to help prevent health problems.

Also, kudos to my federal agency: There's a special room for breastfeeding and/or pumping (esp. important for those of us without private offices) AND the employees who proposed it and got it set up won an award!

Posted by: breastfeeding alumna | September 6, 2006 2:37 PM

So we should be striving to make breastfeeding more socially acceptable and do it discreetly in public and pump in the office, but apparently "no one cares" if you set the example... so what's the point? You all are some contrary people today.

Posted by: Meesh | September 6, 2006 2:41 PM

I'm finding this discussion of fairness and equity in the workplace to be ironic. Many of you are saying that bf-ing and bp-ing women in the workplace shouldn't get an extra hour of free time each day over and above what other employees get.

As one person said, "equal opportunity in the workplace being about equal benefits for all employees."

But weren't some of you the same ones taking me to task awhile back over equity in tuition benefits? I seem to recall being shouted down over the question of child-free people having to subsidize the enomously expensive educations of our coworkers' kids out of the benefits pool we all have to share. (And I wasn't even advocating against regular tuition remission.)

Wasn't it George Orwell who said that we're all equal, but some of us are more equal than others?

Posted by: pittypat | September 6, 2006 2:42 PM

Father of 4, I've noticed that you like to slip a little sexual innuendo into most of your posts. I suspect you are an exhibitionist who gets a little thrill out of that sort of thing. Frankly, I find you a little sick.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 2:43 PM

---
"A real 'giant leap' in breast feeding would be to find a way for men to breastfeed."

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?click_id=117&art_id=ct20021030223759931B6231781&set_id=1

Sri Lankan widower breastfeeds his babies

---

Ok, a real giant leap would be to find away for men to breastfeed without killing off the mother or starving the baby.

Perhaps some pill that would induce it in men?

Posted by: Me | September 6, 2006 2:47 PM

DadWannaBe, those are some great suggestions. It's true that while we can all afford to be a bit more flexible and sensitive to the needs of others, at some point personal responsibility has to take over, and mothers can't expect their companies to hold their hands all the way. You've pointed out some great ways to bridge the gap between what some mothers can't do (nurse during the day) and what some companies aren't willing to do.

Meesh, you've made a very good point. While by that definition, breasts are indeed a reproductive organ, they are still not copulatory and are not deserving of their hyper-sexualized status. One could argue that breasts are meant to attract a mate, and are therefore considered copulatory, but facial features, legs, buttocks, and body type all serve that purpose as well. Breasts are not a necessary anatomical appendage for copulation or reproduction, or even sustenance, so I think it's safe to say that the sexual taboo placed upon them is a bit overdone. And to argue that breasts serve to sustain offspring simply drives home my point that there's nothing wrong with tasteful, discreet breastfeeding in public, as they are not inherently sexual in nature.

Posted by: Mona | September 6, 2006 2:50 PM

Thanks, Pittypat: I have been paying taxes for the entire 41 years of my working life and about 50% of those taxes go toward public schools. Not to mention the families on welfare I'm supporting through my tax dollars. Food stamps, the WIC program at the grocery store, Section 8 housing, and who knows what other bennies the unemployed get out of my pocket. I may be childless by choice but I'm supporting a boatload of people with my taxes.

Posted by: Childless by Choice | September 6, 2006 2:50 PM

There is absolutely nothing gross about breast milk. It taste much better than cow's milk, even when it's warm.

Posted by: Father of 4 | September 6, 2006 2:51 PM

I think your comparison of breastfeeding mothers and handicapped people is a little off. Breastfeeding mothers have the choices of not having a kid, not being at work, and not breastfeeding. Handicapped people do not have any choice not to be handicapped. For them, every second of their work is affected by their handicap. However, breastfeeding only impacts a woman's day a few times.

It's not discrimination (IMO) to not allow women to breastfeed at work, but it is discrimination to not hire handicapped people.

However, I think it would be in the employer's best interest to provide rooms and time for breastfeeding mothers because (a) it doesn't cost much in the long run (a spare room and a few minutes a day that could be made up another time for a year) and (b) it would improve morale and keep women in the work force. There are only good reasons to encourage pumping at work.

Posted by: to breastfeeding alumna | September 6, 2006 2:51 PM

To breastfeeding alumna:

I don't agree. Not having handicapped facilities or work spaces prevents handicapped people from participating in the workplace. A handicapped person cannot work without these facilities. Hence they are necessities. Not having a space to pump or breastfeed in your workplace makes it more difficult but not impossible to participate in the workplace. They are not equivalent at all. If you had to live with any sort of physical impairment you would realize how unfair it is to try to compare not being able to work for a living due to a physical limitation vs not having the luxury of pumping in private. Try getting around in a wheelchair for a whole day or covering up your ears or eyes for a whole day and tell me if the difficulties of not having handicapped facilities is even close to not having a private location to pump. As I said, I think allowances should be made to allow pumping, just that employers and coworkers shouldn't have to bear the sacrifice unless they choose to do so as a benefit. That privacy is a luxury. Closer to having a gym facility in the office as a luxury/benefit. Yes, by encouraging employees to bf/pump or exercise will improve health in the long run and decrease medical costs, etc, but it should be a decision that the employer makes as a benefit to its employees and not mandated.

I applaud those workplaces that do provide facilities such as private rooms for mothers. I just don't think that workplaces should be shamed into providing them or requiring that these are necessities for supporting bf'ing mothers. Saying that workplaces without these are not family friendly is not fair. All I am saying is that as the person who made the choice to have a family, the sacrifice to make it work should be yours and not your employers or coworkers.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | September 6, 2006 2:52 PM

If it is your choice to be childless, why are you complaining about taxes? We all pay taxes for things we don't personally agree with... sorry that's part of living in America, which has pretty low taxes anyway.

Posted by: To Childless by Choice | September 6, 2006 2:56 PM

pure poetry, fo4. thanks -

glad so many people get why bf-ing is such a big deal on so many levels -- in terms of health, legal protection, combining work and motherhood, and acceptance of motherhood.

i've been verbally attacked (by another mom) while breastfeeding and i've had to breastfeed in some pretty weird places. think things are getting better...

also helped me a lot when another mom explained that for a lot of women it is possible to bf only 1-2x per day (morning and night for instance) so that the baby can get some benefits without mom having to pump all the time. gotta be creative -- and easy on yourself -- in order to be a happy mom.

Posted by: leslie | September 6, 2006 2:57 PM

Comparing handicapped individuals and breast feeding mothers is ABSURD. Like it or not breast feeding is a choice, being handicap is not. As the daughter of a handicapped woman, I find this is belitting to the struggles of handicapped people in our society.

Posted by: stop and think | September 6, 2006 2:57 PM

To Marc

You wrote, " Basically, women who use terms like *signaling* do things only to make a statement to other stupid, less educated, Prole-types. But what they fail to understand is that no one cares."

So what is the statement that I am trying to make?

Posted by: d | September 6, 2006 2:59 PM

Dadwanabe- you said exactly what I was thinking.

Of course women should be able to breastfeed or breastpump anywhere they choose. However, choosing to have a baby means choosing what that life entails, and choosing to work AND have a baby means making it work within BOTH worlds- you can't tell the baby to stop needing its milk and you can't tell the workplace to stop needing its stuff done or make special accommdations for your own personal time choices.

This column is about BALANCING- not about going all one way or the other.

Posted by: Liz- also choose to be childless | September 6, 2006 3:01 PM

"Breastfeeding mothers have the choices of not having a kid, not being at work, and not breastfeeding."

Not everyone can afford to not work for a living, not even if they're female and married with children. I also heard that sometimes having a kid isn't optional (birth control failure, lack of access to abortion, can't give up a baby for adoption because the spouse wants to keep the baby, etc.).

Posted by: Maria | September 6, 2006 3:01 PM

Not being able to pump while at work would be like not being allowed to pee all day. It's just not realistic! We all get bathroom breaks with varying degrees of formality; pumping breaks should be similar.

Posted by: Amy | September 6, 2006 3:01 PM

Whoa, there, Childless by Choice.

I'm merely making a reference to an intense discussion from a couple weeks back. Read some of my other posts, and you'll find that I'm completely in favor of all the social welfare programs you mention and also in favor of my taxes going to public schools.

My objection in all this is when MC and UMC folks get more resources simply because they have children they want to send to really expensive schools.

So, 'fraid I'm not part of your bandwagon, CbC. Those social programs are soooo important because they help the truly poor.

Posted by: pittypat | September 6, 2006 3:02 PM

What some of you are not putting together are the facts about breastmilk making your baby healthier - and a healthy baby not needing their parents to take off work when they are sick! Bingo! So - the 20-30 minutes a day we spend pumping directly translates into not having to take days off for a sick baby! My children, (BF for 18 & 16 months) were rarely sick their first year of life becuase of my breastfeeding. Another girl in the office who didn't breastfeed was out everyother week with her son for as long as she worked there. In the beginning it was baby stuff, and later it was all sorts of ear-tube problems. Not saying this was becuase she didn't breastfeed - but the other bf mom and I had much healthier kids than her. Oh yeah - and she was a smoker - which last time I checked was a LIFETIME habit, while we are probably pumping for a maximum of 9 months! So - quit comparing apples to oranges. Focus on the apples and see all the good sides to it.

That being said, I've heard that one of the RN Associations allows you to bring your baby to the office for the first 6 months of life to promote breastfeeding. I only wish the medical association where I worked was so accomodating, instead, they insisted that people without offices pump in a bathroom, and - the COO once said to me "aren't you done with all that?" when my girl was only 5 months old.

Posted by: Germaine | September 6, 2006 3:05 PM

Amy,

You said, "We all get bathroom breaks with varying degrees of formality; pumping breaks should be similar."

Do you routinely take 20-30 minutes for each of your bathroom breaks? That's a lot of time to pee!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 3:05 PM

"Not saying this was becuase she didn't breastfeed - but the other bf mom and I had much healthier kids than her."

Yes, you are. That's exactly what you're saying. Why deny it?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 3:08 PM

>>>So what is the statement that I am trying to make?>>>

Well d, you are making the statement below:

"So if you want to define yourself as a professional educated person, breastfeeding is one of the behaviors one could use to signal who you are or want to be."

You feel the need to clearly define yourself in the eyes of others and hopefully they are on message and can judge you the way you so desire.

Posted by: To d | September 6, 2006 3:08 PM

You can't choose not to pee. You can choose not to breastfeed - not the same thing at all. If you choose to bf and work, then pump on lunchtime.

Posted by: to Amy | September 6, 2006 3:08 PM

"Not saying this was becuase she didn't breastfeed - but the other bf mom and I had much healthier kids than her."

I had one kid who never got sick and one who caught everything - and I fed them both the same way.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 3:10 PM

I didn't want to say that she was also a smoker - but there. Maybe the smoking was what made her kid sick and not the lack of breastmilk.

Also - I'm not an MD and I don't have total knowledge of his medical background.

Posted by: Germaine | September 6, 2006 3:15 PM

Maybe people should only pee on their lunch break.

Posted by: scarry | September 6, 2006 3:23 PM

One of my difficulties with this site is that it is long on complaints and short on practical solutions.

To really bring about change, what's needed is some practical ways employees can make a business case for, say, a private room for breast-feeding. This is a real challenge for small businesses that have limited space or organizations where there aren't very many new moms.

On a personal level, I think a private, non-conference room with a door would be fine as long as other employees could use it too. I frequently get migraines and sometimes end up huddled in a bathroom stall at work, waiting for the pain reliever to kick in. A quiet room where I could sit with an ice pack at these times would be great. I'd gladly make room for a pumping mom.

But again, migraines or breast feeding probably aren't equivalent to a business case. Would that it were it so.

Posted by: Headache | September 6, 2006 3:26 PM

"My children, (BF for 18 & 16 months) were rarely sick their first year of life becuase of my breastfeeding. Another girl in the office who didn't breastfeed was out everyother week with her son for as long as she worked there. In the beginning it was baby stuff, and later it was all sorts of ear-tube problems. Not saying this was becuase she didn't breastfeed - but the other bf mom and I had much healthier kids than her. Oh yeah - and she was a smoker - "

Okay, you already admit that maybe the smoking mother had something to do with the health problems of the child, so isn't it also possible you would have had a healthier baby regardless of what/how you fed it? How are you positive it was the breastfeeding that made them healthier?

I was breastfed and I have seasonal allergies (and unfortunately, I am allergic to things in EVERY season so I am on allergy pills year round) as well as a shellfish allergy. My brother has a little spring hay fever and thats it, and was fed formula.

Posted by: Jolie | September 6, 2006 3:30 PM

Oh yeah. And I got german measles while being breastfed, in spite of my mom having it as a kid.

Posted by: Jolie | September 6, 2006 3:31 PM

"You can't choose not to pee. You can choose not to breastfeed - not the same thing at all."

Yes, but the point is that as a society, we are better off if more moms choose to BF, and to do that, they need to be able to pump. I personally find all the whining about breastfeeding mothers getting the "luxury" of a private room to pump in to be absurd and unsympathetic. Getting more women to breastfeed is a PUBLIC health issue, not just an individual choice. Providing a private space is a pretty small concession in most situations. The fact that it is not possible in all situations is does not mean it shouldn't be done wherever it is possible.

Posted by: Megan | September 6, 2006 3:34 PM

OK, you're right breasfeeding is bad.

Posted by: To Jolie | September 6, 2006 3:48 PM

Is the issue about space, time, productivity or all three?

I'm not sensitive about the space issue at all- get over your body issues and plop out the breast to milk it.

I'm somewhat sensitive about the time issue- all workplaces need to be more balances for the "human element" and allow for breaks and interruptions. This isn't just a breastfeeding or mother issue, it's an adult who has a personal life issue.

When it comes to productivity- I feel the same about time issues. That's what balance is about.

But again, I'm not at all sensitive about someone saying she needs a special private area JUST to breastfeed. The "quiet room" for breaks that could be available to ANYONE is a great idea, but creating special rooms just for breastfeeders goes over the line for me.

Posted by: Liz | September 6, 2006 3:52 PM

Well Liz, I understand your need for a room too, everyone could use a break, but how many people do you think want to take their break with a pumping mother.

Posted by: scarry | September 6, 2006 3:54 PM

"The "quiet room" for breaks that could be available to ANYONE is a great idea, but creating special rooms just for breastfeeders goes over the line for me."

Why? Does it have a negative impact on your work? I personally think the room probably doesn't need to be just for breastfeeding, though a mother who is pumping should be able to be in there by herself (that's the whole point), but what's your beef with it?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 3:57 PM

Not to brag, but my wife can pump, type on her computer and talk to me on the phone all at the same time. No productivity concerns here!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | September 6, 2006 3:58 PM

And we've determined as a society that greater exercise is healthier for all employees and the long-term benefits to companies is that when people exercise better, they are healthier and health costs come down. People are out sick less and fewer people take short or long term disability.

A gym in the office space would benefit all employees instead of just the ones who choose to have a family, but people don't push that as much as they push a private room to pump.

Again, you made the choice to have a family. You made the choice to bf. You make the sacrifices and accomodations. You should thank any employer who *DOES* provide such accomodations, but you shouldn't complain about employers who don't. You should make whatever compromises you need to make your life-style decisions work and not impose on either employer or coworkers to support your choices unless they do so.

I reiterate, I applaud those employers who do provide such accomodations but I don't think it is valid to criticize employers who don't.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | September 6, 2006 3:59 PM

To scarry:

Who cares? It's a break room for quiet, alone break time. They don't want to be around a breastfeeder, they can go to the social breakroom, to the front door with the smokers, or to the person in the next cube who isn't breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding/pumping SHOULD be allowed anywhere IMO.

Posted by: Liz | September 6, 2006 4:00 PM

Childless By Choice...

Therapy. It does a body good. ;)

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 4:03 PM

So, babies of working moms should be fed artificial formula rather than breastmilk from their own species so that working moms don't get an extra break to pump (as if it's fun and/or relaxing to do this in an office?) and take too much time away from productive work? That's just nuts. Discouraging breastfeeding harms the babies, harms the mothers, increases medical expenses and time away from work to care for a sick child, increases the likelihood that illness will spread to other children, and ignores the benefits that breastfeeding has been found to have which decrease the overall healthcare costs to society including lower rates of adult diseases such as diabetes and even less likelihood of children needing orthodontia. All because it's not "fair" if a pumping mom takes 15 or 20 minutes two or three times a day to pump.

Other comments - many insurance companies will cover the cost of a pump, particularly if there is a family history of allergies or diabetes. A pediatrician can write a prescription for a breastpump in many cases.

Breastfeeding produces prolactin, a hormone which causes a nursing mother to relax, and which can decrese stress and correspondingly reduce the risk of some types of abusive behavior.

I'm sickened and disappointed by the comments about breastmilk or breastfeeding being "gross." Feeding a baby milk from a cow isn't gross but a nursing mother is? Breastfeeding is natural and necessary and breastfeeding in public should be encouraged, not discouraged. Now, seeing a big hairy belly flopping over a pair of shorts - that's gross. Perhaps we can ban that instead. There seems to be an underlying sense that pumping is something to be ashamed of - that mom should feel bad if someone walks in while she's pumping. We need a change in perspective. It's not rude to sit in a room with a closed door pumping but it *is* rude for someone to open that door or walk in immediately after knocking.

I pumped for 6 months but after that we found that nursing in the morning and evenings was enough for mom and baby. I took my cold pack and had a fridge but I did keep the milk in an opaque container (better for the milk actually). I didn't have hands free but was able to work and pump because work is pretty much typing or reading. People who walked in while I was pumping tended to do so only once. I only surprised one window washer (but my chair was easy to turn around so I did keep on pumping). I found that people were generally supportive of pumping - even judges and opposing counsel - and never had a bad experience where I live now (out West where things are generally more family friendly). I did have a couple of incidents with public nursing comments with my first baby but that was in the South and that's another story.

Posted by: SS | September 6, 2006 4:04 PM

Why? Does it have a negative impact on your work? I personally think the room probably doesn't need to be just for breastfeeding, though a mother who is pumping should be able to be in there by herself (that's the whole point), but what's your beef with it?
***
Why should they be able to be in private? I think telling a woman that she can breastfeed anywhere is the way to go- if SHE has issues with other people, those are HER issues to deal with.

I'm not completely insensitive- so again, a small quiet break room that anyone can use is a great COMPROMISE. Expecting others to stay out of it just because the breastfeeder is self-conscious is over the line IMO.

Posted by: Liz | September 6, 2006 4:04 PM

Liz

I have no problem with breatfeeding/pumping at work, but I don't think I would want to do it in front of people I don't know. That was my point.

Posted by: scarry | September 6, 2006 4:09 PM

scarry- I can understand your feelings about that, but I don't think other people or employers should have to do anything special because of them.

Just as I don't think people should tell breasfeeders where they can and can't breastfeed because of their own feelings.

Posted by: Liz | September 6, 2006 4:11 PM

"Again, you made the choice to have a family"

YEs, I did. And that is no reason why I do not deserve societal support in making other choices which are good for me, my baby, and society. We support and subsidize many, many things that are individual choices. When you buy a home, you get a tax break. That's an individual choice, and it's one that we have decided to promote as a society because of the belief that home ownership contributes to other social goods.

Breastfeeding is a choice that contributes to other social goods, and it is totally legitimate to ask for support for it.

Liz, I appreciate your perspective that breastfeeding and pumping should be done wherever and whenever. I have never shied from breastfeeding in public, but pumping is a lot harder to do without exposing yourself in a way that makes even me blush. Not impossible, but much more challenging, which is why a private space goes a long way, though like others, I would have no problem with it being a space that is used for other purposes as well.

Posted by: Megan | September 6, 2006 4:23 PM

Megan--from your last post, it seems that we are thinking along the same lines. Despite the one line you cited from my last posting, I am supportive of bf being acceptible and public.

My comments from above point out ways that I think that bf/bp mothers can make accomodations work. A break room that can be shared by all employees can go a long way. Bringing in a small bifold screen that you can set up around one chair in a corner of the break room to give yourself a little privacy, or a poncho to cover your top as you are pumping or one of the bf'ing tops are all ways that the room can be shared and you can have some aspect of privacy. I think that a separate room that one person can use and lock others out of is a luxury and nice when one can have it, but shouldn't be a knock against an employer who can't or doesn't provide it.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | September 6, 2006 4:27 PM

Megan,

Homeownership is good for the economy. That's why the government gives tax breaks for it.

You, your baby, and your breast do not, in fact, contribute to the economy.

Do you see the difference?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 4:32 PM

How does a baby NOT contribute to the economy? They cost in excess of $200k to raise - and - guess what - you get a tax break for having a kid too!

Lets imagine no more children born in this country - where would we be in 40 years? Who exactly would be working to pay your Social Security? All you childless people - hurray for you. I'm not sure why every posting on here always comes down to an "My ideas/lifestyle/choices/decisions are better than yours" argument.

Posted by: Say What | September 6, 2006 4:33 PM

Megan- but would you be ok with someone come in and said they just got horrible news and needed 10 minutes to sit and get themselves together? How would we prioritize?

It is the persons choice to breastfeed and spend a large chunk of their day in a public workplace and that does mean dealing with some of the consequences and finding a balance.

It's also completely unreasonable for the rest of the workplace to never have a woman in the office choose to breastfeed as well and should accept the reality of seeing it and being an adult about it.

Posted by: Liz | September 6, 2006 4:33 PM

"A break room that can be shared by all employees can go a long way. Bringing in a small bifold screen that you can set up around one chair in a corner of the break room to give yourself a little privacy, or a poncho to cover your top as you are pumping or one of the bf'ing tops are all ways that the room can be shared and you can have some aspect of privacy."

This is so funny I just had to stop and reply. I am picturing a new mother hunched over in a chair behind a makeshift screen, draped in a poncho, and trying not to make eye contact with people like you, who want to, wink wink, hang out with pumping moms just to, ya know, relaaaax.

Creepy!

I'd take a bathroom stall any day.

Women need a room to pump because having to worry about sick freaks getting off on her pumping is one heck of a disincentive to nurse, not to mention, it could make letdown pretty challenging.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 4:35 PM

DadWannaBe, I appreciate your post, but I fundamentally disagree with you. You are saying that the woman should bear the entire burden of pumping at work, and I disagree. I think it is a knock against employers who are not willing to give a woman a private space to pump, though as I said, I don't think it has to be exclusively used for that purpose - allowing her to use a conference room or a private break room is fine, so long as she has it to herself a couple times a day. It's great that you have suggestions of ways women can make do, but I don't think they shoudl have to. The idea of pumping behind a screen or under a poncho would be extremely uncomfortable to me, and I'm not generally shy. Being uncomfortable and nervous while pumping inhibits production. That's why a private space is so important to most women. My hat is off to those who make it work with all those ways, but I don't think most women should have to.

Posted by: Megan | September 6, 2006 4:38 PM

Megan- but would you be ok with someone come in and said they just got horrible news and needed 10 minutes to sit and get themselves together? How would we prioritize?

Liz, no, I would not. If I was in the middle of pumping, I would expect them to wait. If they were in the middle of recuperating, I would expect to wait. Not unlike a single stall bathroom, just comfortable and clean.


"Megan,

Homeownership is good for the economy. That's why the government gives tax breaks for it.

You, your baby, and your breast do not, in fact, contribute to the economy.

Do you see the difference?"

Actually, not breastfeeding increases health care costs (see below). Increasing the rate of breastfeeding is also good for the economy.

The Economic Benefits of Breastfeeding: A Review and Analysis by Jon Weimer. ERS Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Report No. 13. 20 pp, March 2001.

"A minimum of $3.6 billion would be saved if breastfeeding were increased from current levels (64 percent in-hospital, 29 percent at 6 months) to those recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General (75 and 50 percent). This figure is likely an underestimation of the total savings because it represents cost savings from the treatment of only three childhood illnesses: otitis media, gastroenteritis, and necrotizing enterocolitis. This report reviews breastfeeding trends and previous studies that assessed the economic benefits of breastfeeding."

Health Care Costs of Formula-feeding in the First Year of Life by Thomas M. Ball, MD, MPH and Anne L. Wright, PhD, published in Pediatrics Vol. 103 No. 4 April 1999, pp. 870-876.

"In the first year of life, after adjusting for confounders, there were 2033 excess office visits, 212 excess days of hospitalization, and 609 excess prescriptions for these three illnesses per 1000 never-breastfed infants compared with 1000 infants exclusively breastfed for at least 3 months. These additional health care services cost the managed care health system between $331 and $475 per never-breastfed infant during the first year of life... In addition to having more illnesses, formula-fed infants cost the health care system money. Health care plans will likely realize substantial savings, as well as providing improved care, by supporting and promoting exclusive breastfeeding."


Posted by: Megan | September 6, 2006 4:39 PM

"You, your baby, and your breast do not, in fact, contribute to the economy."

I think that's debatable. A decrease in infant sickness (and therefore employee absenteeism), fostering a feeling of accomodation and flexibility in the workplance (which decreases employee turnover) and other numerous benefits that have been posted above are positive for the economy of that mother's employer at the very least.

Posted by: SF | September 6, 2006 4:40 PM

I think breastfeeding will become more accepted -- heck, even welcome -- in the workplace if breastfeeding mothers are strikingly beautiful, unbutton their blouses down to their waist and feed the little ones right there -- all while licking an ice cream cone.

You think?;>

Seriously, I think the problem is the idea of women bearing their breasts anywhere outside of home. And also a baby sucking on the breast. It seems to conjure up some sexual imagery or connotations for some folks.

So take a clue from fo4's anecdote and just make BF an overtly sexual experience in a male-dominated workplace! Will it bring about more acceptance? Try it and let me know what happens!

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | September 6, 2006 4:41 PM

My company provides a private pumping room and pays for a separate refrigerator and breastpump rental fees.

It's just good business. Women are a large part of the workforce and if they all packed up and went home, our firm for one would be SOL.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 4:43 PM

Wow, Megan. You don't want too much, do you?

You say that, "allowing" a woman to use a conference room or a private break room is fine, so long as she has it to herself a couple times a day."

How many employers do you know of that will dedicate private space to one, individual person for an hour a day to accommodate her personal choices?

That's an absurd accommodation to expect any employer to make.

I sure

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 4:44 PM

Whoops, that should have said, Liz, yes, I would be ok with it, I would just expect them to wait a few minutes if I was in the middle and I would wait if they were in the middle. Sorry.

Posted by: Megan | September 6, 2006 4:45 PM

"How many employers do you know of that will dedicate private space to one, individual person for an hour a day to accommodate her personal choices?"

What, is the conference room in your office really busy all day long? It's impossible to set it aside for three 15 minute portions during the day? That doesn't sound like a lot to me.


Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 4:49 PM

"How many employers do you know of that will dedicate private space to one, individual person for an hour a day to accommodate her personal choices?"

There are two ways to answer this question.

1.) Most of the good companies do and more and more are realizing it makes good financial sense. Lots of companies put in break rooms, gyms, on-site cafes/cafeterias, etc. This is a lot of real estate (i.e., sunk revenue) spent on supporting the *personal choices* and workplace happiness of employees. Happy employees are good employees. Happy employees don't leave. Two things that go a long way toward making up for the small cost of the item.

The total costs to most larger companies of one employee are well over $100K. The rule of thumb is 1-2 times base salary. This is a cost of providing an office, a computer, benefits, electricity, sanitation, paper, electronics, administrative overhead, not to mention the real estate.

These things are called benefits people. I don't see you volunteering to lose your comfy chair or downgrade your laptop or lose your Coke machine or get rid of your coffee service or any other benefits most of us who work for companies take for granted just because it's not absolutely necessary to perform your day-to-day job.

So why have it?

TO KEEP YOU!! To make you happy! To make you tell other people how wonderful life is at ________.

I can't tell you how much play we've gotten from our nursing room. Do you think we have a nursing room because the senior VPs in the company sat around one day talking about how "breast is best?" Methinks no. But they like the national ranking in Working Mother magazine, the awards, and so on, and they like communicating to their increasingly female workforce that they support us.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 4:54 PM

^
oops... meant to eliminate the "there are two ways to answer this question" sentence. The 2nd one was too snarky even for me. ;)

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 4:56 PM

"How many employers do you know of that will dedicate private space to one, individual person for an hour a day to accommodate her personal choices?

That's an absurd accommodation to expect any employer to make."

I respectfully disagree. As with the anonymous poster, every office I've ever worked in had a conference room that sat empty for the majority of the day. There may be vacant offices, store rooms or other rarely used spaces with doors that close that can accomodate a comfy chair and can be closed off for 15 minute stretches. As someone else said, a little creativity goes a long way. Yes, I'm sure there are places where this really isn't possible, but that fact doesn't let every employer who could do it but chooses not to off the hook.

Posted by: Megan | September 6, 2006 4:58 PM

suggesting a woman pump behind a sheet in a public space is hardly sympathetic or supportive. how do you think you would feel standing behind a sheet in the breakroom with your pants down? a little exposed perhaps?

Posted by: HA! | September 6, 2006 5:17 PM

Megan: Oh sure, come up with the mature solution why don't you! First come, first serve and don't overuse the room. Hmph, that's just insane logic.

Creepy post: No one cares about your breasts that much.

OMO2: ROFL

Posted by: Liz | September 6, 2006 5:18 PM

HA! - If I had chosen to have a genital piercing which required me to air myself out for 15 minutes twice a day AND chose to work in a public workplace for a majority of time during the day...yes I'd feel exposed, but no I'd never make anyone feel bad about not catering to me, nor expect any sort of special accommodations.

Let's face it, we'll also have the problem of the workplace as, the more it become person friendly, the less time people will spend actually IN their personal lives. There will just be more pressure to be at work because it's so much more convenient. There's debates on personal/worklife constantly.

Posted by: Liz | September 6, 2006 5:22 PM

Come on people, breastfeeding is not the same kind of choice as picking out a pair of shoes.

Once the choice has been made (and there are many reputable entities such as WHO and AAP that indicate it is a huge public health issue), it takes accommodation, and it is a societal good that is worthy of public support. This is a choice that becomes a physical need, like going to the bathroom. Many moms cannot keep up their supply without regular pumping. Further, just because the option of supplementing with formula is available does not mean anyone should be pressured to make that choice, at least not any more than anyone should be pressured to breasfeed. It is a year or so out of a mother's work life per child. I do not know a single mom who has a child for the sole purpose of getting out of 20 minutes of work 3 time a day for nine months to a year so that she can (oh joy) pump.

Also, putting it in the office fridge is not an intrusion, it does not take up a lot of space and it can be placed in a paper bag. This is a silly argument.

Posted by: AU Park Mom | September 6, 2006 5:22 PM

Megan,

I disagree so many ways. I work for a government agency and we have one conference room to be shared for 2 floors of employees.

Maybe in lawyer land it is a different story, but when you work hourly, you are expected to work every hour with reasonable breaks (We are allowed 2 15 minute breaks per day plus a 45-minute lunch and 30 minutes of that is unpaid). And yes, people do sometimes talk a little or stretch a little or take a personal phone call, but not 20 minutes at a time 3 times per day.

I took a quick peek at federal employment demographics. In 2004 there were approximately 250,000 women under age 41. If only 10% were pumping 1 hour per day at a rate of pay of $20.00/hour (probably low), then that would be $500,000 per day of taxpayer money being spent while pumping. That will not fly with John/Jane taxpayer.

We do have the ability to flex, and the pumpers could do that, but then they complain that they have to work later and will have daycare problems.

Also, when you work for a federal agency, there can be offices all over the country. Trying to coordinate conference calls when there are different time zones involved is hard enough without someone having to be able to go to a room to pump.

I am not anti-breastfeeding, but the workworld should not have to bend over backwards to accommodate some of the workforce.

Think of tax returns, social security claims, medicare claims, va health records, etc. Most of these jobs do not have enough workers as it is without some being allowed up to one hour of taxpayer funded work time away from the work. I sure wouldn't want to be the patient of the nurse in the VA hospital who takes time to pump when there is no money in the budget for adequate staff to cover her absence.

Posted by: mj | September 6, 2006 5:29 PM

Funny how people who don't want to see bf in public and think the moms should do it privately and told to get over it

but

bf moms think that they should have a private room for pumping.

Posted by: mj | September 6, 2006 5:33 PM

mj, have you ever pumped or seen a woman do it? it doesn't soudn like it or you'd understand the difference

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 5:37 PM

"wow, does anyone really know someone whose primary reason for breastfeeding is 'signaling'? ...that's just bizarre."

I think it's more that if you choose to not breastfeed, you are "signaling" to your doctor, family, friends and peers that you apparently "don't care about your baby's health." That in turn can create an IMMENSE amount of peer pressure to breastfeed when a woman does not want to for whatever reason. That's probably why some women lie about breastfeeding when they are asked about it by busybodies. I have a reason for not breastfeeding: it would probably be considered a pathetic excuse by some self-righteous LLL members, but it's a pretty darn important one to me.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 5:42 PM

"I have been paying taxes for the entire 41 years of my working life and about 50% of those taxes go toward public schools." If only! At least at the federal level, over 50% of the discretionary budget is for military expenses.

Re a bi-fold screen or sheet in a break room: LOL! I used to talk to my sister on the phone when she was pumping during lunch breaks in an unused office, and her electric pump sounded like a photocopier in the background. Can't imagine having that thing going in the lunchroom. That said, she got lots of customer calls done since they'd have no way of knowing what the machine sound was. If only they knew!

Posted by: DC | September 6, 2006 5:43 PM

Megan said
Yes, but the point is that as a society, we are better off if more moms choose to BF, and to do that, they need to be able to pump.

No, you do not need to be able to pump in order to BF. I did BF my children and never used a pump. If you are not available to the child, then you do need to pump to keep the milk coming in.

Megan, you are obviously a big advocate of bf. That is your choice. Working may or not be a choice. It requires balance to be able to work and BF and if an employer is accommodating, that is great, BUT, it should not be a requirement. Employee benefits should be provided to all, not just a segment of employees. That is what we fought for in the 60's and 70's.

I chose to wean my children before returning to work because I didn't want to pump. If you feel so strongly about bf for a long time then you should be willing to use your own time, not paid work time.

Posted by: mj | September 6, 2006 5:46 PM

mj:

First of all, yes, I am an advocate, and I have never pumped or bf'ed on paid time. I am capable of advocating for people who do not have the same luxuries I have, and I don't think a baby should suffer because his or her mother works.

I also have never said that the pumping time should not be made up. I noted that in CT, the regulation requires extra breaks, and it hasn't destroyed the economy, but I don't necessarily think that is essential.

A private space, however, makes a huge difference. It sounds like the conference room in your office is busy. I sincerely doubt that it is impossible to accomodate breastfeeding mothers in ever other federal office in the country. A little flexibility goes a long way. And I have not just worked in "lawyer land," I have worked in a variety of fields. Heck, I used to work on a railroad and I can even think of a room on the grounds that was rarely used that could be set aside for 15 minutes three times a day.

Posted by: Megan | September 6, 2006 5:52 PM

"'The 'quiet room' for breaks that could be available to ANYONE is a great idea, but creating special rooms just for breastfeeders goes over the line for me.'

"Why? Does it have a negative impact on your work?"

It could have a negative impact on the work environment when one group gets unequally extra perks for equal work, whether it's a special room just for breastfeeders or a special raise just for newlywed men.

Posted by: Maria | September 6, 2006 5:56 PM

Speaking of semi-private spaces at workplaces, has anyone else here seen those bathrooms with lobbies?

At MIT, some of the ladies' rooms in older buildings have a space with an armchair or even a sofa and the actual toilets and sinks in a room behind that. I guess it was intended for breastfeeding, but could probably also work if you need to leave a louder cubicle for a while because of a migraine or whatever. Migraines or whatever could also justify including this kind of space in both women's bathrooms and men's bathrooms.

Posted by: Maria | September 6, 2006 6:00 PM

Megan,

I also work for a federal agency. We have in this department alone about 300 staff. We have 3 conference rooms that are available, one of which has one wall full glass. All offices have glass surrounding the doors so that those of us in cubicle-land can get the sunlight through those windows. The offices are all shared by 2-4 people unless they are supervisory or higher (they are supposed to have walls and doors so that if they need to talk with staff, they have privacy for personnel issues or issues where they are dealing with agency-proprietary information). There is a waiting list for offices with doors. If we even had 3% of our staff that were bf'ing mothers, that would be 9-10 people. 3 times per day, 20 minutes each (wouldn't want to rush them if they need a couple extra minutes) is 9-10 hours. If we provided a room, that would be one conference room essentially booked all day for the various staff. We have a calendar for scheduling meetings in our conference room. There is rarely more than one or two hours in the day that they are not in use. We have staff who have been moved out into "temporary trailers" outside the building due to lack of office space. We've had some of the larger conference rooms converted to cubicle areas to house 5-6 staff. Where are we supposed to find the space to accomodate a few workers?

And this is not uncommon in federal gov't land. Things are worse in my wife's agency. They had a buildling downtown close down and her offices are now packed to the gills with all of the displaced employees. Virtually all conference rooms are being used as temporary office space. And there wasn't much space other than cubicles that were set-aside.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | September 6, 2006 6:07 PM

ok, DadWannaBe and mj, you win, it's impossible for federal workers to pump in private. But it is not impossible in the entire workforce, and there are many many employers who just aren't willing to make the accomodation when they could, with a modicum of effort. And those employers should, in my opinion, and I think less well of them because they don't. That's my point. I'm not going to spend anymore time arguing about every individual's office on this board.

Posted by: Megan | September 6, 2006 6:16 PM

AAAAAAAAcccccccccckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

NO, NO, NO

PLEASE DO NOT put your breast milk in the office refridgerator.

That IS disgusting. You want a kid, take care of your kid, stay home with your kid.

From: a female.

AAAAAcccccckk.... NO, please NOT the office fridge.... eeeewwww

Posted by: SnottyNozeBratt | September 6, 2006 6:17 PM

Dadwannabe,

I think we are agreeing that BF is OK, but not on work time. I would like to exercise as I am overweight and it is a health issue. There is a fitness center at my agency, but it is full and they are not accepting new members. Also, even though the space has been provided, there is a membership fee - it is an available benefit, not a free benefit, and it is available for every employee (space allowing)not just a certain segment. And the members use it before and after work, during lunch, or take leave/flex for other times of the day.

I also agree with bigger issues who sees other problems affecting many more people. BF may be a health issue, but so is lack of affordable/accessible health care and day care.

Posted by: mj | September 6, 2006 6:25 PM

You, either, Jon! eeewww!

Posted by: SnottyNozeBratt | September 6, 2006 6:28 PM

it's not about winning, it's about being fair in the workplace. Many businesses, not just federal would have a problem providing those accommodations if they are already at space capacity.

Another thing that I wonder, and I am really not trying to be snarky. Unless a mother follows strict eating habits, is breast milk really always better? What about sugar, fats, caffeine, medications, carb vs protein in the diet etc? My baby got gas the first time I ate brown mustard on a sandwich. And I know that I wouldn't be giving up my coffee.

Middle and lower income familes can't always afford and don't always have access to the best food choices. Formula may really be a better choice for those families, both nutritionally and economically (WIC).

Posted by: mj | September 6, 2006 6:30 PM

Ehm, I think y'all have kinda bypassed a MONSTER of a point here.

If a woman has her kid in the office, her time on task is already taking a major hit just from the distraction of the baby even being there. Now, this being the case, if her productivity with THAT situation in place is acceptable, an extra 20-30 minutes (provided she's willing to put a bit of extra time on the end of the day, or earlier in the morning to cover it, or cut some time off the lunch hour) is kinda small potatoes.

Now, on the average, provided she's discrete (Oh hell, I'll be the one to say it, if the girls look good, PLEASE feel free to be indiscrete), then what the heck? Let her have at it. If she's doing the job, putting her time in like the rest of us working schlubs, who cares?

Posted by: James Buchanan | September 6, 2006 6:36 PM

mj, the quality of breastmilk is consistent regardless of the mother's diet. The mother has to be extremely malnourished in order to effect the composition of the milk. Flavors and substances from specific foods can also pass through, but it does not change the overall composition.

Check out this link for more info:
http://www.kellymom.com/nutrition/mom/mom-diet.html

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 6:36 PM

Organized labor did a lot in the past that benefits today's workers.

BF moms should go on strike for better working conditions. When the companies realize that they need the workers, then they will make concessions. Co-workers who believe in the cause will walk the picket lines with you.

Of course, that's assuming that there aren't enough workers in the wings who will gladly cross the picket lines to take your jobs without BF concessions. ;-)


I wonder if Intel provided pumping rooms? I'm sure a lot of the soon-to-be ex-employees would give up the benefit in order to keep their jobs.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 6:41 PM

to James Buchannan

I have never worked anywhere that you were allowed to bring a child to work.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 6:43 PM

mj, are you incapable of understanding the difference between being an alcoholic and not eating well or are you just being obnoxious?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 6:45 PM

If she's doing the job, putting her time in like the rest of us working schlubs, who cares?

I care because she is not putting in her time like the rest of the working schlubs. Maybe on salary it doesn't matter, but you better believe it matters on hourly positions.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 6:45 PM

So it wouldn't matter if the mom is an alcoholic as long as she isn't malnourished, or taking drugs whether legal or illegal?

If that's true, why did I even bother to try to eat right while nursing??

Posted by: mj | September 6, 2006 6:47 PM

My office has, at least not on a consistent basis, but from time to time we've had a few employee's kids stop by for a bit on school holidays to help their parents out with filing, or just hanging out because of a babysitting fall through. I even had a friend's daughter hang out in the afternoon in an empty cubicle next to mine while she waited for me to give her a lift home because of a scheduling screw up.

These have been older kids, though, no infants to date.

Posted by: James Buchanan | September 6, 2006 6:48 PM

Wow. The trolls are out in force, over here. I guess nothing brings out the immaturity in some folks like - ZOMG, BREASTS! Geez, grow up, people! You're in the workplace, can you act like adults? "Kids" are the ones moms are nursing, not the people in the cube down the hall. If you can't cope with mammaries, then maybe you can just be glad we nursing moms take far fewer days off to take care of sick kids, meaning far less work for you to have to cover for, when we're out.

When I pumped, I kept my milk bottles in a soft cooler in the fridge. Given the grossness of some of the "adult" food left in there, sometimes I wonder why I dared store it there.

The squabbling amongst those of us who either have the luxury to pump, have a fridge at work, or the vast resources to pay for formula misses a big point. We have the sick days to take care of our kids, we're not fired when stay home once too often, kid too sick to take to daycare.

When we work minimum, not living, wage, heaven forbid we need hypoallergenic formula. At ~$30-/can, that adds up far faster than adult food budgets, easily $150-/week. But once you switch to formula, there's no turning back. No wonder, when I used to work at People's Drug, Nutramigen was the first merchandise to walk straight out the door after a delivery, security tags beeping all the while. When you harrass a nursing mom to stop pumping, are you prepared to pay even just her formula bills for the next several months?

The problems of not being given the option to pump extend far into people's lives, well past what you can see at work. You who are grossed out by those baggies really should be glad that's the worst of your issues.

Posted by: long since moved to solid food | September 6, 2006 7:04 PM

If that's true, why did I even bother to try to eat right while nursing??

Posted by: mj | September 6, 2006 06:47 PM

because you didn't look up the answer yourself when you were nursing.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 7:09 PM

I suspect there may be some new and future moms reading this who may be concerned about how hard pumping seems to be for many.

Please keep in mind that nursing or bottle isn't an either/or choice (let's be realistic and respectful - telling worried new moms that a single bottle ruins their child forever just isn't helpful).

If pumping isn't for you, then don't pump. Nurse in the morning, nurse in the evening, once before bed, and maybe once in the middle of the night if you aren't lucky enough to get a good sleeper. Send formula to daycare and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

If that is too much effort, how about just nurse before bed and in the morning? Again, congratulate yourself on a job well done.

Yes, you may need some help getting your body onto a schedule like that, and yes, it will take some effort to maintain your supply, but it is an effective way to give your baby most of the benefits of breastfeeding without aiming for the impossible (Yes, for some, pumping is impossible)

This blog is called "on balance," right?

Oh yeah:
Hand pumps: don't even think about it if you have any carpal tunnel issues from the pregnancy or elsewhere.

Posted by: me | September 6, 2006 7:10 PM

I am a contractor for a US Govt agency and we have a lactation room - a place where all bfing employees and contractors can come and pump. It is great. I have pumped there on occasion and I have to say that while I hate pumping in front of most people, pumping in front of other pumping moms is pretty cool.

It is ONE room. One room for over 1000 employees. There is a fridge and a lot of plugs and some sofas. Other places I have worked have turned small supply closets into pumping rooms.

The equation is like this:

Pumping rooms and accomodation for pumping = decrease # of sick days for mom and increased dedication of mom to company (i.e. she is less likely to QUIT her job because she finds combining motherhood and working too hard).

Anecdotally, I have found that a company's approach to pumping mirrors their approach to work/family balance. If they are going to be jerks about pumping breaks, they are likely going to be jerks about sick kids, PTA meetings, and the like. And more and more women vote with their feet.

The challenge comes when women don't have a choice about work - but again, I think the more employers realize that they gain more than they lose by giving working moms breaks to pump (or nurse the baby if someone brings the baby by).

And we as a society gain loads more by having more bf'd babies.

Posted by: workingmomof2 | September 6, 2006 7:14 PM


I pumped 1 year for my first and maybe 18 months for my second. I pumped mornings at home, after a morning nursing; then lunchtime and midafternoon in my private locked office at work. I bought extra horns and bottles, so I didn't need to take time to clean them at work, just in the dishwasher at home; also I found that I could keep the bottles (recombined into 1 bottle per feeding) in the cooler compartment of my pump with 3 icepacks and everything fit and stayed perfectly cold til evening (unthawed icepacks --- this was 5-9 years ago, so probably pump designs have changed).

Contributing more to the useful tips:

1) A poster mentioned pumping right after baby's morning feed. If you're planning ahead, it's really great to get in this habit as soon as your milk comes in, when you're still engorged. It builds up a cache of breastmilk to use while teaching baby to accept a bottle and while first returning to work, and it means that your production never comes down to just what your baby needs, but stays a little greater.

2) This is also probably a plan-ahead tip, a little harder to implement once you and baby have established habits. Some babies of working moms adopt a pattern of reverse cycle nursing, where they do the bulk of their nursing during the night. This is not nearly so bad as it sounds --- nursing while lying down is a skill to learn asap because it gives you a lot more rest in the recovery weeks. Once babies grow a little, latching on becomes very easy and less position-dependent, so latching on while lying down often becomes easy. Eventually, at about 2-3 months, babies stop soiling after every nursing, and start going through the night without needing a diaper change, even if they nurse often. So, if you co-sleep, you no longer have to get up for each nursing. Night nursing instead becomes very easy --- the baby wakes and latches on, then mom and baby fall back asleep while baby continues to nurse. The sleep disruption to mom and nursling is about equivalent to when you wake up chilly and adjust your covers, semiconsciousness for a few moments but back to sleep immediately (for many moms, anyway). Though if you insist on continuing to alternate sides between nursings, you do have to get up and switch sides of the bed --- I gave this up instead and just ended up with imbalanced production and more sleep. Anyway, there are some huge advantages to cosleeping/reverse cycle nursing if it works for you. The baby gets much of its intake at night, while nursing, and just takes what it must during your workday, which means you have less demand to meet by pumping (good because babies usually get milk more efficiently than a pump). Second, your prolactin levels are naturally high during the night/early morning, so you're taking advantage of your best production time . . . also proximity to the baby all night long, and nursing, itself stimulates prolactin production, so I at least always woke up feeling so calm and baby-besotted and overabundant in supply, while afternoon pumpings instead gave increasingly dwindling returns . . .

This worked really well for me both times. I did go to conferences where I pumped and shipped days' worth of breastmilk, and I can verify that my production was 2/3 nighttime and early morning, breastmilk was just so available then, and so hard to come by during the workday . . . after their first week both babies got no formula, I was able to pump enough for them (with my second's allergies to dairy and soy this was important to me, maintaining a safe and complete food source for her).

I think the babies do the reverse cycle nursing (it's not like *I* was waking them up and urging them to nurse) because they love nursing more than bottles, love the nursing experience snuggled next to mom . . . When I was at conferences, my dd woke up hungry in the night the first night and dh prepared and gave her a bottle of warmed breastmilk. She didn't wake up again in the night til I got home, just slugged down huge bedtime and morning bottles ---the bottle wasn't worth waking up and waiting for . . .

3) Of course I'm sure everyone knows about fennel and fenugreek teas for boosting supply :-) . . .

Posted by: KB | September 6, 2006 7:28 PM

Workingmomof2, thanks for sharing such a positive story. I hadn't thought about what it would be like to pump with other pumping mothers, sounds like it works pretty well there. Cool!

Posted by: Megan | September 6, 2006 7:30 PM

Thank you KB:

Reverse cycling:
Only works if you cosleep so that you can nurse and sleep at the same time. Yes, you really can do that safely once the baby isn't a newborn.

("Cosleep or crib" is another topic that brings the judgemental side out of everyone - you won't ruin or save your child either way so choose the option that gives you the most sleep. You will be a better parent and produce more milk - again, it is about balance)

Posted by: me | September 6, 2006 7:53 PM

Geez. Will you people please learn the difference between "discreet" and "discrete"?

Posted by: pittypat | September 6, 2006 8:03 PM

"

Check out this link for more info:
http://www.kellymom.com/..."/drinkthekoolaid.html

GAWD not kellymom! Talk about a fringe LLL supporter. Why oh why does everyone who is trying to impose their BF views on others quote this site as if this woman actually has a degree or something (she doesn't ... go check). Half the time, I expect to see her write: "... and if you cut an artery and are bleeding to death in the kitchen, still be sure to have the child attached to your boob as you call 911, since breast is best and we wouldn't want to deny your child nutrition now would we?"

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 9:00 PM

"Keep on pumping, moms. Everywhere you can. Because if we do, more articles will be written and talked about, and one day, workplace protection for breast-feeding moms of all income levels will be commonplace, too"

And, no mention whatsoever about babies being more healthy.

But, still. Taboo subjects are still taboo after hundreds of articles and discussions. Why is that?

Posted by: cc | September 6, 2006 9:07 PM

" But here we are, moms: Note the historic date of Friday, Sept. 1, 2006, when the New York Times ran a front page story and home page video on its Web site about how hard it is to breast-feed at work"


since half the adults in the US have breasts and certainly have considered breast-feeding their offspring, I doubt this is really "national news".

It's much more likely a sign of the depths that one American media outlet has dropped to in pursuit of ratings. After all, the NYT has a healthy load of competition in NYC.

Put some breasts on the cover, masked with a babys' lips. That ought to get some attention. I'm sure that both Playboy and Penthouse will be doing a thorough in-depth investigation of the topic, shortly.

That ought to make it socially acceptable to pump and/or breastfeed at work.

Posted by: cc | September 6, 2006 9:16 PM

well, if Cal has breast fed, she must be a she. Now we know!! Even if she is the most unkind individual I have ever encountered.

Posted by: experienced mom | September 6, 2006 9:19 PM

THanks for the helpful post, KB--actual ideas that may help people. I think a lot of folks going into it fearful that it will be hard--which it is at first--and then bail. I know I almost did. But things like recognizing you can just bring the baby to bed with you at the 1 am feeding and then pretty much sleep through the 4 am feeding so that you actually get some rest (without having to characterize your self as a radical "family bed" person or worry because people say "your baby might die if you roll over') might help some new moms develop a BF approach that works for them. It's not all or none (for most people, at least).

Posted by: Arlmom | September 6, 2006 9:23 PM

("since half the adults in the US have breasts and certainly have considered breast-feeding their offspring, I doubt this is really "national news". "

Maybe only half the adults in the US have considered breast-feeding their offspring, but almost all have breasts (minus those who have or have had to have them removed). Men also get "breast" cancer, not "chest" cancer.

Posted by: To cc | September 6, 2006 9:25 PM

...the moral of the day is that womens' topics are inherently sexist and we are supposedly living in an enlightened, non-sexist country, where one does not talk about their bodily functions or personal problems as if they are discussing the weather. This entire blog is about the problems that women have in professional society, for being women. Two strikes right there.

It's like men walking around talking about how they need to have regular sex (with highly-attractive, submissive and energetic women, naturally) to perform well at their jobs, and the negative consequences of not getting enough sex. Yes, this is a real problem, yes, it has major consequences. No, it's not something that we talk about, much less in polite society. Or on a mainstream media site.

Listen to how whiny and needy that sounds. Now understand how working men see working mothers. Always asking for more exceptions for the same pay. No man would walk into his bosses office and complain that he isn't getting home early enough to greet his daughter when she gets home from school, or that he hasn't had time and privacy to prepare fresh body fluids for his son's lunch that day. And that, perhaps, this is something that might be discussed at the next group meeting.

Good grief.

Posted by: cc | September 6, 2006 9:26 PM

My kids are teenagers. kellymom wasn't around then. I am not trying to be obnoxious any more than you are by saying that nothing makes formula feeding better except malnutrition.

My experience has been that if pumping is too difficult then the women stop pumping - they don't quit their jobs.

Megan - "and I don't think a baby should suffer because his or her mother works."

That is really very condescending to mothers to imply that a baby suffers because they aren't BF.

Posted by: mj | September 6, 2006 9:29 PM

"Working moms' long grassroots struggle to gain equality at work has reached a small but noteworthy milestone."

...gaaah...yes, because as we all know, men have been breast-pumping and breast-feeding on the job, for hundreds of years! Even at their desks, or while driving those big-rigs, men across America take breast-feeding at work for granted!

Why do you think power-tools were invented, so men could breast-feed with one hand and split rocks and drive nails with the other! (of course, *real* men can do this without using power tools...)

Stupid silly sexist men trying to deny women the equal right to breast-feed at work should be ashamed of themselves, and its high time this subject came out in the light of day :)


Posted by: cc | September 6, 2006 9:34 PM

"(i.e. she is less likely to QUIT her job because she finds combining motherhood and working too hard)."


...certainly a wonderful reason to come home and tell your husband that you quit your job, there were inadequate pumping/feeding facilities at work!

I'm sure that was the case for at least 25% of the female resignations from that firm :)

God, I'm sure that the directors of that company could hardly get to sleep at night, thinking of all the female employees who might walk into work one day and say, "that's it! I'm fed up with trying to breastfeed in this place, me and my tender swollen boobs have suffered long enough! We're outta here!"

Just think about the nightmares they must have had, it must have been awful!

Posted by: cc | September 6, 2006 9:36 PM

there are those who bristle when told that it is best for the baby for the mother to be home and not at work. there are arguments that a happy mother is best for the family. then why do these same working mothers feel so compelled to tell others that they must bf and pump and it is vital to the baby. are they more right than the SAH who think all moms should stay at home. I never heard motherhood described as causing bone-crushing tiredness from anyone other than a bf mom who also pumps. Does that make for a happy mom any more than being a sah when you want to work? too many contradictions throughout this blog.

All workers need policies that allow them to attend to their personal lives, whether it be elderly parents, sick spouses, children, daycare, personal interests, etc. I believe in flextime, work from home (where practical), teleconferencing to cut down on travel, personal leave policies - for ALL employees. No one group (other than disabled employees) should receive special accommodation. If the employer wants to provide space and opportunity for BF on the employees own time and not company time, I don't really care. I just don't want to get paid for 8 hours of work daily when my coworker gets paid 8 hours but works 7 and pumps 1. Unequal pay, unequal work, special privelege.

Posted by: mj | September 6, 2006 10:02 PM

Just out of curiousity, would all you people be as critical and unsupportive of a person's decision to be a vegetarian? Would you be saying, what is the big deal there is no refridgerator and there is only meat served at the company cafeteria at the location that is 30 miles from the nearest restaurant, just eat some meat, it gives the person the energy they need to thrive, so what if they have made a personal choice not to eat meat (nutritional, moral, whatever). Would you be calling a vegearian selfish?

To a parent that has made a choice not to formula feed, it is not as if they can just order take out for the baby and pay for the equivalent of breastmilk somewhere else. The whole point is that there is one source, it is for a finite amount of time, and it is a sensitive mechanism that causes painful physical symptoms to the mother if it is not supported regularly.

For the record, I am not saying it endangers a child's life to be fed formula, only that it is as valid a choice for a mother to choose to give her child only or as much breastmilk as possible. It is a not a frivolous choice. Some commenters write as if mother's should know that formula is just as good as breastmilk and mother's are being selfish for wanting to feed their babies breastmlk. They are wrong, when the choice is pumping or formula feeding, formula feeding is a lot easier, but it is not equivalent.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 10:23 PM

"I just don't want to get paid for 8 hours of work daily when my coworker gets paid 8 hours but works 7 and pumps 1. Unequal pay, unequal work, special privelege."

Do you get paid hourly, or do you get paid to get your job done? I am a manager of a wide variety of professional employees at a federal agency. Some will never be particularly productive, and some will be extremely productive no matter what is going on in their lives, and some have productivity that changes over time. I do not consider pumping to be an impediment to an employee's productivity. I do see people who are very concerned about how their workloads compare to others stalling out in their careers because they focus on things other than just doing a good job.

I waste a lot of time at work, but I am also extremely productive and good at certain things which are critical to my job, which is why I have it. Pumping did not affect my productivity, I read the Post online while I pumped (not this blog, it did not exist). I have known many women who pumped in my agency, to my knowledge it did not affect their productivity one iota. Having a new baby may have affected it, but it was not the pumping.

I understand that the article was about people in industries (service industry, factories, etc.) that do not provide the flexibility to pump that professinal situations do. My experience working hourly jobs a long time ago was that people in those jobs actually get more regular breaks that any professional job I have ever had (I am not a smoker). If an adequate space could be provided, adding 5 minutes to a worker's 2 regular 15 minute breaks and using the lunch break would probably go a long way toward allowing a mom sufficient time to pump without shirking her duties.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 10:45 PM

"Megan - "and I don't think a baby should suffer because his or her mother works."

That is really very condescending to mothers to imply that a baby suffers because they aren't BF."


Posted by: mj | September 6, 2006 09:29 PM

So sorry, mj. Should have said, A baby should not be deprived of the multiple, well established benefits of breastfeeding just because his or her mother works.

Posted by: Megan | September 6, 2006 11:38 PM

Are we still talking about breastfeeding? I can't speak for all schools, just the five that I am familiar with. These are K-8, private, public, elementary, middle and high school. So there is a range. Anecdotal, however.

Teachers usually get a break. I don't know of a single female teacher who couldn't breastfeed is she wanted to, at least at the aforementioned five schools. There are days, of course, when things happen, and it is harder than usual. But I would like to inform the listening public that once you leave fifth grade out in public school land, there is no recess. Can you believe it? And they are griping about the obesity problem. Lord, the kids can't play outside in their own neighborhood because of whatever (seriously, even in my quiet corner of suburbia there aren't many kids outside! ) and just when their bodies start changing they take away recess! No wonder it's hard to get middle school teachers. The kids are bouncing off the walls after lunch!) Schools aren't quite like they were in the 70's and 80's. Teachers routinely drink water at their desks, use the bathroom more than once a day, blah blah blah.

I think Jay Matthews should start a blog for teachers. I am sure that would make this look like a Sunday service with the Pope!

Posted by: parttimer | September 7, 2006 1:02 AM

And I am posting at 1 a.m. because I can't sleep.

While I am here, I would like to inquire about the practice of 'wet nursing', in which the mother of hungry baby lets another lactating woman feed her child. I personally know of two accounts in this century. It has fallen out of favor now, but it used to be common. I wonder if the kids who had a wet nurse were confused. I think I can sleep now.

Posted by: parttimer | September 7, 2006 1:07 AM

So I googled wet nursing and got some interesting info. Apparently some people do it because of breast implants. I knew a woman who gave her friend's baby some of her own stored milk from a bottle, but it was just once. We were all a little off balance with it. That is odd, actually. I let my kid drink milk from a cow that has who knows what hormones, etc. added to it, yet feel like a line has been crossed when two close friends share breast milk? REALLY going back to bed now.

Posted by: parttimer | September 7, 2006 1:19 AM

Do you get paid hourly, or do you get paid to get your job done?

Yes I do work hourly and the job is never done. We do not have projects with deadlines, we process claims and there is not enough staff for all the work - there never has been. I know of areas in our agency with down time (the thinkers), but the claims processers(doers) never have down time. I believe that the FTE (fulltime employee) allocation is not high enough for us to ever catch up on the backlogs. The powers to be are afraid that we might actually run out of work and be paid precious tax dollars for downtime.

Again, I don't care if people BF - just do it on your own time and not company time.

Posted by: mj | September 7, 2006 6:35 AM

Hard to believe it is the same government when there are so many different rules.

*Pumping did not affect my productivity, I read the Post online while I pumped*

A claims processer is not allowed to be on the internet unless it is break or lunch time. And the break and lunch times are established times, not whenever you take it.

So what do you consider professional employees? Our computer programmers and analysts are GS-12 and GS-13 and are hourly. They are not salaried. Most get time and 1/2 pay for overtime work (there is a cap but if their hourly rate is high enough to be capped, then they get straight hourly time for each hour of overtime they work). In either case, they are not salaried employees and are being paid to work for 8 hours. When there is downtime, they are expected to spend their time reviewing or reading materials (though this doesn't actually happen most of the time there is down time).

The managers of the claims processers are GS 12/13 - the managers of the programmers/analysts are GS 14/15. I believe that the managers are generally considered professional and the programmers/analysts are considered technical and the claims processers are generally considered peons.

Posted by: mj | September 7, 2006 6:51 AM

So it wouldn't matter if the mom is an alcoholic as long as she isn't malnourished, or taking drugs whether legal or illegal?

If that's true, why did I even bother to try to eat right while nursing??

Posted by: mj | September 6, 2006 06:47 PM

Well, actually, my understanding is that unless your nutritional habits are extreme, the baby is going to get what it needs regardless. But it might be at your expense. So eating right actually has more to do with the mother getting her adequate nutrition for being well, having energy, etc.

In this whole breastfeeding/formula feeding debate, I find the defensiveness people have somewhat odd. I can accept as an objective truth (based on all the scientific studies) that breastmilk is better for baby than formula. That said, I still didn't breastfeed much past maternity leave with my first although I did go longer, but not a year, with my second. People will formula feed their child for all sorts of reasons and that's okay but I don't understand why people feel this need to say it's just as good as breastfeeding when, objectively, it is not. The thing is there are all sorts of outside factors informing whether a woman wants to/is able to continue breastfeeding for the long term, i.e. work situation, her own health issues, family situation, daycare situation, etc. But can we accept no objective truths just because they're in conflict with what we are actually doing? Really, everything is NOT relative.

By the way, I work for a federal agency that has a lactation program. Many of the buildings have lactation rooms and they are very used. You have to sign up and have scheduled times for when you pump. As for a place for others to be if they have a migraine, etc. There is at least one other place, a separate room off a bathroom, in my building that does have chairs and space for someone to go sit or whatever.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | September 7, 2006 9:50 AM

cc, "equality" does not mean "we get what men have." It means that we get what we need because men get what they need.

"Equality" in healthcare does not mean that we get prostate exams. It means that we get the same quality care as men for our bodies and special needs.

Posted by: Meesh | September 7, 2006 9:53 AM

Why do we have public education? Because we as a society are better off when the workforce is well educated. Why do we have public safetey laws, e.g. seat belt and helmet laws? or public health investments like vaccination and health screening programs? Because we as a society are better off when we can maximize the health of the workforce and their families. Why do we have labor laws like the 40 hr. work week and anti-child labor laws? Because we as a society want to maximize long run economic productivity while protecting workers' rights.

Why is it so hard to grasp that supporting working families (including breast feeding mothers) is beneficial to us all? An article in the NYT a couple of weeks ago quoted the large financial firms kvetching about losing highly trained female managers when they have a baby-- that equals a big human capital investment lost. If firms want to retain human capital they've worked so hard to develop, they might consider making it easier for working moms to continue contributing at work while still pumping/breastfeeding/taking kids to dr. appts/whatever. This all or nothing "quit if you don't like it" attitude is foolish and short-sighted when one considers that women make up nearly half of the workforce.

If it's so economically and socially beneficial, why aren't more firms doing it? Maybe because the managers are as foolish and short-sighted as some of today's posters-- remember, there were/are plenty of managers who argued against anti-discrimination laws, the ADA, and environmental protection laws, even though all of those things benefit society in the long run. Unfortunately, in this society, too many people assume that the business point of view is the optimal point of view-- but businesses focus on maximizing profits this quarter, not on supporting the social investments that will allow all of society to improve economically over the long haul.

People are what fuels the economy-- educated, healthy, happy workers are better for everyone, and that includes happy breastfeeding moms and (eventually) their kids.

Oh, and to the guy who said, "a man would never whine to his boss about being able to be home when his daughter gets home from school"... well, actually, more men are waking up and realizing they want to be more involved parents. And men are speaking up about it, more and more.

Posted by: JKR | September 7, 2006 2:42 PM

When I went for my 6-week post-natal obstetrician visit, the nurse was annoyed that I wanted to nurse my baby in the exam room. after keeping me waiting over 1.5 hours after my appointment time. And this was supposed to be the best ob group in the county. What a jerk.

Posted by: m | September 7, 2006 4:47 PM

You should tell the doctor. Many times they don't know how their staff is behaving.

Posted by: to m | September 7, 2006 6:38 PM

Meesh said "cc, "equality" does not mean "we get what men have." It means that we get what we need because men get what they need.

"Equality" in healthcare does not mean that we get prostate exams. It means that we get the same quality care as men for our bodies and special needs."

Equality in healthcare means (to me at least), that all workers have a health insurance benefit so that they can have the specific exams that they need individually. Providing special rooms and TIME for nursing is a nice bonus, but not an equal benefit. Providing the room is ok by me, but not the time. I think this should fall under personal time. Give all employees the benefit of personal time and mothers who choose to nurse can do it on lunch, make up the work time, or use there Personal time off benefits (in 1/2 hour increments if need be). Or let this fall under the FMLA umbrella.

Again, for salaried positions it may be different, but not for hourly.

There are indeed a lot of working women who nurse, but in the entire national workforce, they really are a small percentage of the workers.

People like Megan think that this is akin to depriving children of the best eating. It is the mother's/father's choice to do what they feel is best. If the workplace doesn't make it easy to bf, then do what you have to (nurse at lunch, in bathrooms or whatever countless other women have done) OR find another place to work OR stop working OR stop nursing.

As someone said much earlier in the blog, there are BIGGER issues that affect larger numbers of workers that should be addressed before requiring concessions for nursing mothers. How about health care for all, prorated benefits for parttime workers (many companies intentionally keep positions at part time to avoid providing benefits), flextime, job sharing and any other benefit that would be a benefit to all workers?
king at

Posted by: mj | September 7, 2006 10:14 PM

People like Megan think that this is akin to depriving children of the best eating.

MJ, that's exactly what it is. It's not just Megan, it's every major health organization. Doesn't mean the parent is a bad parent, but it is what it is. Eating pizza for dinner is not as good as eating grilled chicken breast and vegetables. Formula is not as good as breastmilk. Done and done. Get over it, you'll be more credible if you do.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 7, 2006 11:21 PM

the workplace not making the concessions is not depriving the child - the mother who doesn't do the alternative (lunchtime, leavetime, etc) is depriving the child. Don't make the workplace responsible for the mother's choices.

Posted by: mj | September 7, 2006 11:42 PM

"I let my kid drink milk from a cow that has who knows what hormones, etc. added to it, yet feel like a line has been crossed when two close friends share breast milk?"

That milk from a cow has been pasteurized and processed into relative safety. Has your friend's milk been pasteurized? Are you sure your friend doesn't take medication that might harm your baby? Are you sure her milk has been properly refrigerated? Are you 100% positive that neither she nor her husband has HIV? Are you sure your friend didn't have any alcohol before pumping? Are you sure your friend hasn't consumed anything that your child is allergic to or that might cause heartburn in your baby?

These are typically the type of things you don't need to worry about with a cow ;)

Posted by: To parttimer | September 8, 2006 1:18 PM

To the Meesh and anyone else who thinks human milk in the fridge is "disgusting":

Do you mutter in disgust every time you see a container of cow's milk in the office refrigerator? That cow's milk was PUMPED, PUMPED, I tell you, from a cow. A machine was attached to the cow's nipple that extracted it from the cow's mammary gland.

So, why is human breast milk disgusting, but cow breast milk is not?

Posted by: MrsC | September 8, 2006 2:19 PM

These are typically the type of things you don't need to worry about with a cow ;)

No but you have to worry about pesticides and growth hormones. I'm with ya on the HIV thing though.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2006 3:21 PM

"Do you mutter in disgust every time you see a container of cow's milk in the office refrigerator? That cow's milk was PUMPED, PUMPED, I tell you, from a cow. A machine was attached to the cow's nipple that extracted it from the cow's mammary gland.
So, why is human breast milk disgusting, but cow breast milk is not?
Posted by: MrsC | September 8, 2006 02:19 PM"
I'm not saying it's disgusting, but I think putting it in a bag is appropriate. In response to your more general questions, basically, the cow isn't sitting in the cube next to mine.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2006 5:34 PM

The invention of portable breast pumps has made it possible for nursing mothers to spend extended periods of time away from their children. Whether that's a good or bad thing is probably in the eye of the beholder.
All those childfree types who grumble about mothers taking off early or leaving the office to tend to their young should be thrilled at the idea of breast pumps and lactation rooms. They mean the mothers will not have the physical need to leave the workplace as early or as often.
The children, though, may feel a little less thrilled about their mothers' extended absences.
(For the record, I'm one of those women for whom breast pumps did not work. Luckily, I have been able to telecommute.)

Posted by: anon mom | September 10, 2006 7:22 PM

"cc, "equality" does not mean "we get what men have." It means that we get what we need because men get what they need."

...ay, there's the rub. What do women "need'. And why.

ps you should get what you need, because you need it. And men certainly do not get what they "need" at work. We don't even get what we deserve as good employees.

We get what our bosses think that we need, plus what they want to give us, and whatever else we can snatch for ourselves and get away with it.

So let's not confuse the issue here.


Posted by: cc | September 12, 2006 2:53 PM

""Equality" in healthcare does not mean that we get prostate exams. It means that we get the same quality care as men for our bodies and special needs."

My "special needs" aside, I don't get prostate exams at work.

I make an appointment to go see a doctor. And I get my exam at the doctors' office.

Hint.

Nor do I walk around at work discussing either my pending prostate exam, or the results of my previous ones.

Nor do I demand a special room be set aside at my workplace, for group discussions of prostate exams.

You women are trying to argue that your personal life has a place at work. It doesn't.

You want to, unnecessarily, pump yourselves to produce milk for your children, fine. Do it at home, or at the gym, or somewhere other than in your work area.

Though technically it's none of my business where you do it as long as you don't do it in my face, and if you want to take "personal time" to do it, fine, that's something that you negotiate with your supervisor, but to *demand* a time and place for pumping is just a little much. Though I have no problem with you storing milk in a common refridgerator...who cares what food you put in it, as long as its' well-labeled...

but face it, if you are supposed to be at work for x hours or between the hours of A to B and you need to take time off to pump, I'd have to seriously consider the need to pump with the need to keep your job and the ability to find another one. The classic mistake that women make is to try to have their cake and eat it too.

That's not "equality".

That's selfishness.

That's what you want to avoid. Then men want to help you, not laugh as you stumble along.

Posted by: cc | September 12, 2006 3:01 PM

...on a very important parallel point, if breast-feeding is so important that it is no longer a matter of choice but a matter of good nutrition and infant care, then it is detrimental to the child to NOT breast-feed.

How much of this is personal opinion and how much of it is medically supported?

Because this could be a real issue. You'd have mothers being accused of child neglect by not breast-feeding their children, for example.

Then again, because it is such a personal issue, why is it *always* more healthy for a child to be breast-fed, and what factors come into this decision...and again, why can't children be formula-fed in a healthy manner that is equal to or greater, or at least insignificantly less good, than breast feeding?

...is coca-cola harmful to children?

if so why do we allow them to drink it?

If not, then why make a big deal out of making your children drink juice instead of coca-cola?

If it is a question of *degree*, what legs do you have to stand on?

Posted by: cc | September 12, 2006 3:06 PM

...on the other hand...who cares?

If you need to set aside time to pump and find a place to pump, then just do it in a reasonable way...is that impossible?

Posted by: cc | September 12, 2006 3:07 PM

ok to answer my own question, here is why.

The top 10 concerns of the mothers of young children tend to be

1-their children
2-themselves
3-their children
4-themselves
5-their children
6-themselves
7-their children
8-themselves
9-their children
10-themselves.

When Reality interferes with this obsession, they tend to complain vociferously.

Men who hear this complaining respond in a natural manner, by responding in a knee-jerk fashion. Knowing better than to actually look logically or critically at the issue. The noise either goes up or down, with no rhyme or reason, it's that simple.

And thus we arrive at the status quo.

Posted by: cc | September 12, 2006 3:15 PM

Well - I can't let this end with CC's rants.

First off - who lets their children drink coca-cola? Certainly not anyone who knows better. Its' milk and water only at my house with the occasional glass of juice on special occasions.

Secondly, to everyone who posted comments about how "I was breastfed and sick and my sibling was formula fed and healthy" well - ok. But maybe you would have been even sicker if you hadn't had that breastmilk. And maybe your sibling would be smarter if he had had breastmilk. (Not my opinion - this is scientifically proven that BF babies have a few more points in the IQ dept as a result).

Lastly, it is a medical/scientific fact that "Breast is best". It may not be convenient to you, but it is. If you are trying to say otherwise it is only to make yourself feel better. I'd love to hear someone come up with an actual scientific reason for BF not being the best thing. It's better for the baby, it's better for the mom. It shrinks your uterus faster after birth, helps you lose weight, is cheaper and easier than bottle feeding, promotes closeness with your baby (I'm not saying you aren't close to your bottle fed baby!!) - nothing negative about it! In fact, I'd be pumping today just for the weight loss benefits except I gave my pump to my S-I-L!

And - I am tired of hearing the excuse from people that they "just couldn't do it" - or that they didn't have enough milk. Seriously - it's biology - you make as much as is needed, your body is not going to let a baby starve. If you don't want to do it - then be a grown up and just say it. "I didn't want to breastfeed" or 'it wasn't convenient for me". Arrg - nothing I hate more than listening to the excuses people come up with for not BFing.

What we need are national laws protecting a woman's right to BF. That way we can feed our babies when they want, regardless of where we are. And, for people who are trying to pump while working, we need support. In my old office people would just use the offices of people who were out, or use a single stall bathroom. We really don't need much room, and it is to your benefit. Kids are sick less, moms are out less, workers benefit. It's only for 9 months people - we're not doing it forever!

Posted by: G | September 13, 2006 12:34 PM

CC is a little confused about certain medical realities.
Breastfeeding mothers must release milk from their breasts periodically through the day. If they don't, there will be leakage, pain, possible infection and an all-around unpleasant situation for everybody, including co-workers and bosses. That "need" is a physical imperative. Breast milk must be removed from the breast every few hours, not in 8-hour or 10-hour intervals.
The choices are: 1. have the women leave the premises to nurse, pump or express, 2. have them stay on the premises to nurse, pump or express. If you want them to stay on the premises, then you should be overjoyed at the invention of portable breast pumps and the relatively new practice of providing private sites for pumping.
Prostate exams and breastfeeding are not comparable.
It's true that men of a certain age should have prostate exams. But not every few hours.
As for mothers making their children their No. 1 priority, is that wrong? What should be their No. 1 priority instead?
Children need their mothers (and fathers), probably even more than supposedly adult co-workers need to be shielded from shielded from concepts that make them feel squeamish.

Posted by: anon mon | September 13, 2006 7:16 PM

" probably even more than supposedly adult co-workers need to be shielded from shielded from concepts that make them feel squeamish."

I am prepared to live by that if you are.

Posted by: cc | September 14, 2006 1:32 PM

"Breastfeeding mothers must release milk from their breasts periodically through the day. If they don't, there will be leakage, pain, possible infection and an all-around unpleasant situation for everybody, including co-workers and bosses. That "need" is a physical imperative."

again, this brings the whole concept of a working mother breast-feeding her children into serious consideration.

What you're saying is that they must pump two, maybe 3 times a day, every day, the whole time the child is breast-feeding, and even after they stop, for a while.

Ask the question of yourself. How much consideration should be given to a breastfeeding mother at the workplace, and how much consideration should mothers give to the fact that they are at work, not at home in the privacy of their own homes with their hungry newborns?

Posted by: cc | September 14, 2006 1:35 PM

"I'd love to hear someone come up with an actual scientific reason for BF not being the best thing"

simple, it's called "weighing the pros and cons".

Just like everything we do in life. We have to balance what is "best" for us with what is compatible with the society we live in.

And thus we arrive at the entire set of rebalancing jobs that must be performed when women want to work with men, in large numbers.

It is like the death penalty debate. We assume that killing people is bad. Yet, we find it necessary to kill people anyway. The question becomes in what situations is it a good idea, the ethics are flexible, the absolutes dissolve in the realities of daily existence.

It is why women will rarely have children with men who cannot or will not support them and their children. And that's another can of worms, but still.

We all must deal with it.

And I'm sorry if that is considered "ranting" on my part...but I understand that it is easier to dismiss what I say, then to consider it logically...especiallywhen it runs counter to your own beliefs.

Posted by: cc | September 14, 2006 1:54 PM

and ultimately this issue is only a big issue for those who have problems finding a place and time to pump, at their current job.

If the group mind can't help to resolve that problem for you, what are you going to do? Persist in breastfeeding anyway?

Or take your employer to court?

Posted by: cc | September 14, 2006 1:55 PM

"What we need are national laws protecting a woman's right to BF. That way we can feed our babies when they want, regardless of where we are."

...having a "right" does not mean that you are legally empowered to exercise that right at will. (in fact we're not really sure what it means)

And forgive me for looking doubtfully on the chance of that becoming part of the Constitution.

Posted by: cc | September 14, 2006 1:57 PM

...anyway I could go on in this manner, I'm sure, but, really, folks...it helps to think logically, for yourself. And your children :)

Posted by: cc | September 14, 2006 1:58 PM

"Prostate exams and breastfeeding are not comparable.
It's true that men of a certain age should have prostate exams. But not every few hours."

they're not even the same thing!

Still. When we do have them, we do not pull a curtain at work and have a prostate exam.

We *could* do that.

But a few things prevent us from doing it. One, a sense of modesty. Second, some sensitivity for the feelings of our coworkers. Third, when we want privacy, we don't try to get it by asking our coworkers to pretend that we are not having a prostate exam in our office.

That sort of thing.

You know, I'm very sure that some insurance companies would love to send a doctor around to a company once a year and give every male over 40 a prostate exam, all at once. Just to make sure they're checked.

Do you think they'd just do it in their cubicles?

Aren't you mature enough to handle the concept of 500 men having prostate exams at work while you are trying to do your job, without overreacting?


Posted by: cc | September 14, 2006 2:03 PM

"First off - who lets their children drink coca-cola? Certainly not anyone who knows better. Its' milk and water only at my house with the occasional glass of juice on special occasions."

...the point is that you do not do what is best for your children all the time, so why worry about what happens when you do not, and why try to use "what is best for my children" as an excuse to do whatever you want to do for yourself or your children?

Besides, are you a medical expert, are all your decisions truly "the best" for your children?

What if in the small scale it's the best, but not good in an overall sense?

What about when what is good for you and your children becomes bad for me and mine?

You can't put yourself and your children first all the time. Nobody can. Not even as a group.

Not only is that self-centered, it's antisocial.

Posted by: cc | September 14, 2006 2:09 PM

ok

I'm getting that old feeling...at some point you just have to let people deal with their own problems, as best they can...half of their problem is that they are creating problems for themselves, by being stupid.

time to go do something else.

Posted by: cc | September 14, 2006 2:10 PM

"nothing negative about it!"

Good summary.

Everything has something negative about it. And the positives can often be accomplished in other ways.

Jesus, if there was nothing negative about breast-feeding, don't you think that women would be lining up all over the US to breast-feed and men would support it 100%?

Women would be having babies just so they could breast-feed! Just imagine, even if they couldn't they'd be pumping for any unfortunate mother who couldn't.

The mind reels...

Anway. Good luck with this, all of you...I can see it's a major issue...I hope that you find your answers.

Posted by: cc | September 14, 2006 2:16 PM

...very interesting reading, by the way. Very illuminating.

I appreciate the contributions of everyone who has posted in this thread.

Posted by: cc | September 14, 2006 2:22 PM

seriously, the *facts* of the issue, very interesting, even some interesting and enlightening opinions. Though, some opinions were just nonsense, and some beliefs, false.

Overall a good exercise, though. Maybe it'll help smooth things along, somewhere.

Posted by: cc | September 14, 2006 4:53 PM

...also highlighting the difference between opinion and medical fact...

Posted by: cc | September 14, 2006 4:54 PM

...then, speaking of boobies, we have George Allen and Jim Webb...

Posted by: cc | September 14, 2006 5:06 PM

And don't forget the biggest one of all. cc himself.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2006 5:23 PM

"And don't forget the biggest one of all. cc himself."

well, if you have nothing better to talk about, I can't be that much of a boob :)

cheers

Posted by: cc | September 15, 2006 5:04 PM

cc, you seem to have a lot of time on your hands to write and write and write to a blog about motherhood, a curious interest considering that you are not a mother.
Why not use some of that time in a more constructive fashion to learn some basic medical facts?
Some subjects to ponder:
-- Babies do not remain babies forever. They grow.
-- Nutritional needs change -- gradually -- as infants become toddlers, toddlers become preschoolers and so forth. Infants start life getting nutrition from breastmilk and/or formula alone. At about six months, most are introduced to solids. Over time, as children grow, their diets diversify. And over time, as children grow, breastfeeding mothers nurse less frequently and eventually, not at all. It's a process called "weaning."
-- Prostate exams don't directly provide nutrition for dependent children. Medical procedures roughly equivalent to prostate exams might be breast exams or cervical exams or colon exams or even skin exams. These exams, though important tools to detect cancer, have little in common with breastfeeding, which is not an exam or a procedure that detects anything whatsoever.

Posted by: think about it | September 15, 2006 7:58 PM

First, let me compliment you on your grasp of the obvious.

Remember, most if not all of us started out as babies, too, and we weren't eating steak and eggs until we were at least 5, I think.

I'm sure that we all know, as well, that babies are not fed during a prostate exam, nor do such exams provide nutrition to developing children...directly...so why would I bring that up?

It is to point out that it is a biological necessity on the order of breastfeeding, one that we men do not take care of in our offices, or at work. Sure, we do not have to have them every 3 hours, all during the day...I hate to think of how many people reading this forum are unsure of this, or feel that this needs to be mentioned...but even having them just once a year, we retire to a private space with a medical doctor. Women should realize that their need to pump and/or breastfeed does not justify their thrusting their pumping and breastfeeding upon their coworkers. It's that simple. Just the same as if they were in public. It's just like an obscene bumpersticker. Sure you can live with it, but who really wants to see that? Is it necessary for people to talk on the phone on the subway? No. But they do it anyway, as rude as that might be. Hopefully if they do it, they do it in a quiet, respectful manner, mindful of the people who are around them, sharing the space.

Should breastfeeding women be exempt from workplace social considerations due to their desire to provide fresh breastmilk for their children?

Again, the issue is who is being self-centered, the mothers or their coworkers?

Well, since it is a WORKplace not a feeding area, I would suspect that the mothers are being self-centered. Just a thought.

The other day I read that having a beer a day is good for your health. Shall we now have our daily beer at work? And if so, where, exactly? In our cubicles? Should we exercise at our desks, to the point where we are doing our 30 minute aerobics or weightlifting routine at our desks, during worktime? Should I run in place or skip rope in the middle of my workgroup, while my coworkers are running around trying to do their jobs?

No.

It's simply not appropriate behavior for work. Even if it is necessary, or very healthful.

And let me add the obvious here...you're assuming that even then the only people around are your coworkers. What if your boss is giving an office tour to a group of investors, or collaborators from another company? Does he need to coordinate this with your breastfeeding? Or would you just assume that maybe it isn't a good idea to do that at work? What if you're off in private doing your thing somewhere and he needs to call you in for a meeting, should you just tell him to wait because you're breastfeeding?

No, forget that last one. You want to breastfeed, why not do it at work? I can't think of one good reason why not.

Posted by: cc | September 19, 2006 4:54 PM

ps

think about your post before you hit the "submit" button

Posted by: cc | September 19, 2006 4:57 PM

...last but not least you don't need to breastfeed your children. It's simply not required.

It's an issue of choice, 99%, and an issue of it being better for them, 1%.

I'm just throwing those numbers out there. Because I don't really know the benefit from feeding children breastmilk instead of any formula on the market, or the benefit from breastfeeding, literally, instead of bottle-feeding...I'm just guessing that since most of the adults in the US were *bottlefed* even formula-fed as children, it doesn't have a huge debilitiating effect.

So, we see many problems with breastfeeding or pumping at work and few known benefits, and even those are of dubious merit, yet, still, women want to demand their "breastfeeding rights"...then wonder why men don't take them seriously.

Of course it is because we are sexist.

At one point we had a young secretary who breast-fed and who would pump at work after she got back from maternity leave, she would do it in her office over lunch behind a locked door. As far back as I can remember, she is the only woman I have ever worked with who has breast-fed, not to mention pumped at work. As far as I know. And most of the women I work with have had babies in the past 10 years, except the more senior who already had children.

To me it is not a big deal...as long as they don't want to do it in my office-space...and, certainly, as long as we aren't giving a tour, or they are supposed to be in a group-meeting. But we have people that come through our office area all the time, from other divisions and from other parts of the corporation. A woman walking around with a bottle would be as unprofessional as a man walking around with a pair of gym shoes in his hand. But guess what? They don't need to walk around with them in their *hands*. Or change into them in public areas.

Just find a good time and a good place to do it, is it that big a deal? If you can't, then reconsider your priorities.

...the alternative is that women begin to bring their babies to work every day and breast-feed while they are sitting at their desks, telling their male coworkers to "grow up and get over it". And I am sure there's at least one company out there where this happens. Find a place like that to work and be happy.

Posted by: cc | September 19, 2006 5:18 PM

still, on a scale of obnoxiousness I would rate a breastfeeding woman somewhere around 2 with one of those goofballs using a nextel pager-phone in speaker mode a solid 8, and the guy who drives through my neighborhood in his souped-up Camaro with racing pipes a 9...then the kids that ride those stupid little mopeds and pocket-motorcycles which apparently have no mufflers at all, even higher.

I hate to say what a '10" would be because that would mean nothing is more annoying, which is not true. There's always something more annoying.

My issues with it would be appropriateness and modesty, along with respect for ones' coworkers. Other than that it is a mother feeding her child, how much of my business is that? Not too much.

Like anything else if it is done in a civil manner it's ok. At work it has to be done in a manner consistent with the main function of the workplace.

The problem is when people lose track of how much these two things matter. And there are a lot of self-centered people in the world...and, unfortunately, that means that we have to overcompensate to maintain a tolerable environment. It's not so much a matter of "what", it's a matter of "when" and "where".

Hard to make rules like that, though. And so we have what we have.

Posted by: cc | September 21, 2006 12:14 PM

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