Friday, January 20, 2012

Breast pumps as small appliances.

So it looks like we finally have some legislation in place to require employers to provide a clean, private place for working mothers to express their breast milk per the new healthcare regime as reported in The Huffington Post.  OK, great.   But now what?

One handed manual pumps are often not efficient enough for working mothers.

Yes, now what?

Now we need to keep chipping away at our public acceptance of breastfeeding in general and of the use of breast pumps by mothers who need to express their milk.  And indeed this is truly the brunt of the work that needs to be done if the United States is catch up to stride with the rest of Europe, UK, South America and so on.

Breast pumps are small appliances....

Breast pumps are noisy and can be inconvenient at times, but so are many other modern day devices and appliances in our society...think cars, blenders, toaster ovens, treadmills, ipods.  But breast pumps are as necessary for working mothers who provide their breast milk to their infants while they return to the workforce as cars and buses are to the commuters who use them to get to the workplace. 

Model wearing a hands free pumping bra

Breast pumps are us....

And until you have to use one, you probably don't think much about breast pumps.  Understandable.  As one who used to make my living providing breast pumps and support to new mothers, I can tell you they are a much misunderstood and maligned appliance in our world of small appliances.   (I even contemplated, briefly at one time, naming my business "Breast pumps are Us."  It was a brief moment of insanity, we all have them!  It probably would have induced a letter from the "boys in New Jersey" as we used to term the lawyers who work for Toys R Us.  And actually our friends at Toys R Us sell breast pumps too--they just don't provide support or instruction on how to use them or care for them.  But that's a whole different conversation.)

Medela Symphony Breast Pump

I hear and understand all the objections and belly aching about mandating employers (keep in mind it is only those employing greater than 50 workers) to provide a secluded, clean place for women to pump their milk.  It takes up space in a small, cramped workplace, etc. And, yes, it will factor into the cost of doing business.  Yes, and look how the mandates from the Americans with Disabilities Act have impacted our workplace environment.  They require unrestricted wheelchair access to bathroom, wheelchair ramps and so on.  Yes, they had to force employers to build these things at their own expense. and yes the costs get rolled into the cost of their product or service.  So we need to do the same for new mothers.  We need to respect their need and right to express their milk during the work day.

Stand up and be counted--ASK

Does your employer provide this to its employees?  Ask.  Ask even if you don't need the service, ask even if you are a male and do not have breasts!  Ask, stand up and be counted as one who supports and believes that this is a respectable right for working mothers and their infants.

Bring us one step closer to being a country who accepts and embraces breastfeeding as a positive process that is healthy, beneficial and supported!

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