It's World Breastfeeding Week and this got us thinking about how breastfeeding is equal parts wonderful and difficult for too many women today.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has long recommended that women breastfeed children to age one, a goal a lot of women find nearly impossible. With a typical paid maternity leave (if there is any paid leave at all) of just 12 weeks, many women end up back in the workplace far sooner than the one-year mark. And those moms often struggle with time constraints, policies that discourage breastfeeding, and finding clean, private spaces to pump breast milk. (Although that last one is true for nursing women in general.)
In 2012, McDonald's was famously investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2012 when a new mom was forced to clock out and reduce her hours in order to walk to a library to pump breast milk. (McDonald's did respond to the investigation by paying back the employee's lost wages and restoring her hours, but still.)
The good news is the tide may be changing, thanks to the hard work of breastfeeding advocates. With every sad story of a mom being shamed that goes viral, more people realize how important breastfeeding really is. One concrete example: the companies listening and making it easier for moms to feed their babies.
Our hat is off to these three large companies, which have instituted pro-breastfeeding policies for their employees or customers and are setting a great example for others in the process.
It's been a big week for Netflix employees, which announced that its offering employees a full year of paid maternity or paternity leave. This will undoubtedly make it easier for new moms to reach the recommendation of breastfeeding babies until age one. "This new policy, combined with our unlimited time off, allows employees to be supported during the changes in their lives and return to work more focused and dedicated," Tawni Cranz, Netflix’s Chief Talent Officer, said on the company's blog.
Moms who are nursing and traveling on business often have to 'pump and dump,' or throw out their breast milk because it is too complicated and expensive to ship or carry home. Not anymore, says IBM. The tech giant will launch a novel program in September that will provide moms with everything they need to ship their breast milk home while they are traveling for work.
According to the Washington Post, the new program will start with an app that will allow women to enter the travel location and choose how many temperature-controlled packages she will need to ship her breast milk home. IBM will deliver pre-addressed packages to the hotel's front desk, ready for the employee to use.
Target’s breastfeeding policy, recently posted on Facebook by Breastfeeding Mama Talk, has been getting kudos. The company supports breastfeeding “in any area” of their stores and states that, “If you see a woman breastfeeding in our stores, do not approach her. If she approaches you and asks for a location to breastfeed, offer the fitting room (do not offer the restroom as an option).” That's a vast improvement over 2011, when breastfeeding women staged a 'nurse in' to protest the fact that a breastfeeding mom in Texas was asked to cover up in the store.
Helping to alleviate the worries of nursing moms is definitely a worthy cause more businesses should get behind.