Beating the Employment “Booby Trap”

This post is part of the September Carnival of Breastfeeding, and it’s our first time participating, so we would love to hear what you think!  Please scroll down and read the other interesting posts, too.

This month’s theme is working and breastfeeding, since September starts with Labor Day.  We’ve put together a  summary of Best for Babes’ thoughts on working and breastfeeding:

1)       The case of Allen vs. Totes/Isotoner put a spotlight on just how difficult it is to go back to work and pump milk, especially for blue-collar workers.   Allen was fired for taking unauthorized pumping breaks (though unauthorized bathroom and smoking breaks seem to be okay), and the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in favor of the employer on the grounds that it was not pregnancy discrimination.  Salon.com and others pointed out the absurdity of separating lactation from pregnancy.  It would behoove all of us to remember that babies are born extremely developmentally immature, and that breastmilk completes the lining of the digestive tract in a way that no substitute can, so it is important to think of lactation as a later stage of the pregnancy/birth continuum.   I think it would also be useful to point out that asking for pumping breaks is no easy thing in a culture that is squeamish about breastfeeding.   When I was at Merrill Lynch, I don’t know if I would have been comfortable talking to my superior about needing to pump, I would have been far too embarrassed!     We need more mothers like LaNisa Allen to challenge the system; heck, this is one area where lawsuits would come in handy.

juanita family cropped

Mrs. US Beauties 2009 Juanita Ingram

2)      Juanita Ingram, winner of the Mrs. U.S. Beauties 2009 success pageant, shares her story of fighting against humiliation and discrimination for pumping in the workplace.   A corporate attorney, Ms. Ingram put together an airtight case demonstrating cost-savings for her employer and succeeded in persuading them to establish a corporate lactation program.   She is a powerful role model and champion for moms, and we need to hear more stories of mothers that fought smart and paved the way for other working moms.

3)      Some companies have established excellent corporate lactation programs; sadly, some companies are forming shady alliances with companies who have a vested interest in seeing mothers fail at breastfeeding.    Be careful who you trust: Moms need to once again have their wits about them and make sure that their employer is not giving them clever marketing materials which look great on the surface but are carefully constructed with misleading information likely to undermine their breastfeeding success.   Hint:   if there are any formula company logos (or those of their pharmaceutical company parents) on those materials, you are being “booby-trapped!”   The best dressed wolf should not be minding the sheep!

4)       Every October, Working Mother magazine puts out an issue of 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers.  Carnival 09.09 working mother Much to our dismay, manufacturers of infant formula such as Bristol Myers Squibb and Abbott Laboratories have routinely made the top of this list despite aggressive marketing tactics that conspire to prevent all mothers from making truly informed feeding decisions, and actively prevent vulnerable new mothers who want to breastfeed from succeeding.   To improve their corporate image and win loyalty from working moms, these companies work very hard (and pay a lot of money) to get top billing on the Working Mother list, and be seen as a good corporate citizen.   Sorry, but we think that any company that at its very core undermines moms is not a great company for working mothers, period.  Formula-feeding moms (many of whom wanted to breastfeed but were boxed into a corner by the formula-industry created “booby traps“) will make 3 times as many visits to the hospital with baby than breastfeeding moms do, and mom and baby’s pain and suffering (think ear infections, reflux, intestinal infections, allergies, asthmas, some childhood cancers, obesity, diabetes) will be unnecessarily greater, not to mention the huge cost increase.  Formula-feeding is associated with increased health risks for moms too:  heart disease, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and obesity.  Sort of cancels out the nice policies and cushy benefits that won these companies a top spot, no?   I’ll take a company that respects me and my boobs, thank you!

5)      We’ve come across some great resources recently regarding working and breastfeeding, and I am going to list a few here just in case you haven’t seen them yet:

  1. www.workandpump.com excellent!  pumping tips, download employer packet, more
  2. www.workplacenursing.com a consulting service for employers
  3. http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/programs/business-case/ The government’s resource guide for company lactation programs
  4. http://www.breastfeeding.com/workingmom/lactation_program.html

6)      Many magazines and websites provide lists of “must-have” items for working moms.   When you do your shopping, consider patronizing companies that are supporting Best for Babes to bring about a culture shift and remove the “booby traps” to breastfeeding successfully.  We are only working with the crème de la crème, pun intended:    Nipple cream and soothing packs:  www.earthmamaangelbaby.com.   Nursing tanks:   www.glamourmom.com Hands-free pumping support (type and pump at the same time!) www.pumpease.com And for an awesome lean, green pumping machine, try the Hygeia pump:  www.hygeiababy.com .

Please check out these other “Carnival of Breastfeeding” posts on working and breastfeeding (will be updated continuously:

Blacktating:   The 5 biggest mistakes working & pumping moms make

Stork Stories:  My breastpump and I didn’t get along (links to another great post, too:  Ask An LC about pumping)

Breastfeeding Moms Unite: Breastfeeding at My Family Daycare

Marshins:  Taking Your Working Boobs To Work

The Milk Mama:  A Job Where Everyone Breastfeeds

Strocel.com:  Working and Breastfeeding  a Toddler

The Marketing Mama:  Working and Pumping

Momnesia the Book:  Sorry, Facilities Guy

Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog:  Breastfeeding and working is possible, and you can make it work

Chronicles of a Nursing Mom:  Do you really need a pump?

Vanderbilt Wife:  I Think This Officially Makes Me a Mommy Blogger

babyReady:  What About Breastfeeding When I Go Back to Work

Breastfeeding 1-2-3:   Tips for Breastfeeding and Working

Breastfeeding Mums:   Breastfeeding and Working in the UK

MumUnplugged:   This is a Breastfeeding Office

My World Edenwild:  Nursing Mothers Need Workplace Support



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8 Comments | Last revised on 09/28/2009


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