Breast-Feeding haves and have-nots

I feel like I had to choose between feeding my baby the best food and earning a living,” said Jennifer Munoz, a former cashier at Resorts Atlantic City Casino.

NYT reports on a new inequality that has been breeding;

“When a new mother returns to Starbucks’ corporate headquarters in Seattle after maternity leave, she learns what is behind the doors mysteriously marked “Lactation Room.”

Whenever she likes, she can slip away from her desk and behind those doors, sit in a plush recliner and behind curtains, and leaf through InStyle magazine as she holds a company-supplied pump to her chest, depositing her breast milk in bottles to be toted home later.

But if the mothers who staff the chain’s counters want to do the same, they must barricade themselves in small restrooms intended for customers, counting the minutes left in their breaks.

“Breast milk is supposed to be the best milk, I read it constantly when I was pregnant,” said Brittany Moore, who works at a Starbucks in Manhattan and feeds her 9-month old daughter formula. “I felt bad, I want the best for my child,” she said. “None of the moms here that I know actually breast-feed.”

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.

But 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. It is usually an inconvenience, and it may be an embarrassing comedy of manners, involving leaky bottles tucked into briefcases and brown paper bags in the office refrigerator. 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, and others to quit after a short time…

In corporate America, lactation support can be a highly touted benefit, consisting of free or subsidized breast pumps, access to lactation consultants, and special rooms with telephones and Internet connections for employees who want to work as they pump, and CD players and reading material for those who do not. According to the nonprofit Families and Work Institute, a third of large corporations have lactation rooms…

…73 percent of mothers now breast-feed their newborns, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But after six months, the number falls to 53 percent of college graduates, and 29 percent of mothers whose formal education ended with high school. In a study of Oklahoma mothers who declined to breast-feed, nearly a third named work as the primary reason…”

Related;
States promote nursing, protect moms
The Case for Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding Legislation in the U.S.
Grey Market in Breast Milk

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This page contains a single entry by Paul published on September 1, 2006 12:58 PM.

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