Why is discriminating against breastfeeding still a thing?
Despite the fact that breastfeeding is the most natural form of feeding an infant there is, the general public can’t seem to muster up support.
BANISHED TO THE BATHROOM
While the Affordable Care Act included a provision in 2010 that requires employers to provide a lactation room for moms until their child is a year old, businesses are still struggling to follow suit.
Kayla Tang, a public health nurse for Seattle and King County, was asked to pump behind a shoji screen that was set up for privacy. With a crack in the screen that allowed air to blow through and people to see, the option was not a good one. Aside from it failing to meet the standard of it being “shielded from view and free from coworkers,” it isn’t conducive to milk let-down, which requires the mother to be relaxed.
“The vasculature shrinks; it constricts,” Tang told Kuou.org. “It’s not conducive to letdown or good milk flow. You want to be relaxed. Physiologically, it’s not conducive to a good amount of milk coming out.”
The result? Tang is pumping at her desk and allowing her mostly-female co-workers who work in the same space to shout a warning to any unsuspecting approachers.
Taking it a step further was the Washington DC, Dulles International Airport in which an employee refused to allow Liz Meagher Cooper into the club area to privately pump.
Instead, she was advised to use a family bathroom, in which there was no outlet to plug in the pump, or the “Pet Relief Area,” a location for animals to relieve themselves between flights.
Apparently this airline wanted to give swanky attention to the canines on their flights, but couldn’t be bothered to help a young mother find a private area to express milk for her child.
“There was a red fire hydrant in there for dogs to relieve themselves. That’s obviously not where I’m going to pump my breast milk for my baby,” Cooper told CBS Boston.
Cooper opted to pump in the public terminal, something that shouldn’t have to happen in 2015. Thankfully, many airports do have private areas, such as Mamava’s lactation pods, for women to pump.
Sometimes it isn’t just an uncomfortable situation employees are faced with, it’s a harassment situation.
Adrianne Russo, a young mother and hospital security supervisor in New Jersey, is suing the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital for refusing to allow her to pump in her private office. Russo alleges that she was harassed by her supervisor and then, upon complaining to human resources, was told that she must use the designated lactation room two buildings away to express milk.
“This is an example of the many challenges women still face in the workforce,” said Alison Gary, who organized a demonstration in front of the hospital in support of Russo. “This shouldn’t happen especially in a hospital setting.”
All of these situations show the lack of support given to breastfeeding mothers in a public and business setting. While the laws have changed, clearly something needs to change to ensure employers and businesses are abiding by them respectfully.