Saturday, May 22, 2010

Got Milk? And a Non Apology from MommaBean, Teehee

Alright, so if I had been at ALL consistent about blogging I'd be apologizing for not blogging while I've been away. But, those hearty followers who still know I exist know that I've been lackluster (and that's being nice to myself) with my blog posting lately. But today I saw an interesting article that got my fingers itching to blog... And thus begins Got Milk?

There's an article in Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine (yeah I'd never heard of it either) talking about women pumping milk at work for their babies. As a time-tested veteran of the practice, I had to see what the fuss was all about. The article, titled Lactation: the mother of all office dramas was interesting. Many of you may not be aware that in March, President Obama passed an act requiring employers to provide "breastfeeding employees with "reasonable break time" and a private place — not the ladies' room — to express breast milk during the workday until a child's first birthday." Now, I was lucky. I worked in an office and had my own office. As a manager, I had a veritable cube field outside my office, but I had a door that closed. Since the walls were odd and a window was shared with the office next door, I can't be sure I didn't drive my neighbors crazy with the pump sound, but... The article recounts stories of women having their hours cut and being outright fired for taking breaks that are too long or bringing in nurse's notes stating that they need to pump.

And, therein lies the rub. We want the health benefits that come from breastfeeding, for both Mom and baby. But, few employers want to make much effort. The article also recounts the stories of women who were pumping and had someone walk in on them. It sounds like an urban myth, doesn't it. But, I had it happen to me once. I borrowed the office of a salesman that was out for the day on sales calls, put a note on the door asking people to stay out as I was pumping, and still got walked in on. By the salesman. Who hadn't read the note. He was by far more embarrassed than I was because I was fully covered. I found it rather funny. He had a hard time meeting my eye for a month or more after.

Something I guess people who have never expressed milk for the baby likely don't realize (and certainly the men who tend to make the rules don't) is that it isn't an easy path to take. It requires dedication, willingness, and persistence. I suspect a dash of sheer, downright, orneriness is probably well placed as well (teehee). Getting the milk to come out well requires quiet, calm, restful relaxation. Now, can you imagine a woman perched on the toilet in a public restroom finding those things? Neither can I. Now, imagine them in that same awful position for months on end. As I said, I was lucky. I had a nice, quiet place to pump. I bought clothes that made discreet pumping possible so I wouldn't feel exposed and tools to make it hands-free. I was actually able to go right on working while I pumped the milk every 2-3 hours. And, I was able to continue doing it for the first year after the twins were born. And, it's a gift that I am thankful for every single day. By the end of that year, I couldn't wait to be done. I felt like mooing constantly. But, my kids got the best food they possibly could have.

So, I give my applause to Obama for requiring employers to provide similar conditions. In the US, we take little enough care of our working women. The company I worked for during my year of pumping did not offer paid maternity leave. As a result, 4 weeks after giving birth, I was back in the office. At least this is one protection that is now offered all working women. And, it helps the employer with healthier kids, less time off work for mom, and other benefits.

I do wish that more people in Jordan would catch on to how important breastfeeding is. I'd love to see scores of women with the briefcase-like pump on their way to work. The state of breastfeeding and the misinformation available at even the best hospitals saddens me. It denies those who really can't afford formula another, healthier, better, cheaper option. And, it denies those moms the chance to at least try to reap the personal health and baby-bonding benefits. Wake up, Jordan. Get on the nursing bandwagon. It will do the country good.

Happy Dairy!


At 12:00 PM , Blogger jaraad said...

I don't have kids but your last paragraph shocked me. I always thought that Arab women are aware of the importance of breastfeeding and I thought it is the common practice rather than using formula when compared to women in the west?
I thought by now everyone should know that breastfeeding is healthier and it has other advantages as well such as the bonding issue between the mother and the infant.

At 2:27 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Unfortunately, my experence here doesn't bear that out. There seems to be some sort of social standing attached to formula feeding. Mind you, the US goes through tis as well, aong with other fallacies (like it's easier somehow to cart around formula and bottles, and such).

Oh, and the hospitals seem woefully prepared with nurses giving very bad advice to moms who are interested in breastfeeding :(.

At 10:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Momma Bean, when my son was born I was back to work shortly thereafter as well, but wasn't as lucky as you with the pumping. Oh, I pumped, but I was sent to the ladies room to do it and constantly scolded for taking long breaks. I still remember trying to get all of that set up and all of the sanitizing I had to do. I also remember crying many times while I did it.

The strange thing about my experience is that it was other women who put me in that position and were nasty about the break times. When one of the male managers found out what was going on he gave me the key to a file room that I could lock myself into. I still had to sit on the floor, but it was a big improvement. Unfortunately, that only lasted a short time since the office was remodeled shortly after and that file room was turned into work space. Back to the bathroom for me.

But I made it to my son's 1st birthday.

Jaarad: the majority of women here use formula. This includes stay-at-home moms who have all of the time and leisure in the world to spend breast feeding. In my experience, only the poor who can't afford the formula breast feed.

At 8:40 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Em, that's serious dedication! Sadly, it doesn't necessarily surprise me that women are culprits here too. Unfortunately, part of human nature is that we have trouble not pushing our own values and baggage onto others :(.

At 2:12 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Most of the new mothers I know in Amman stopped nursing or never did it because they found it easier. they first try the formula when they leave the house -because their husbands don't allow them to breastfeed when they go out, even if they cover up- and then they get used to it and gradually their babies start liking the bottle more and more.
It amazes me that some women use the bottle when they have all the strength and time to breastfeed :(!

At 2:16 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Nido, I'm with you. It's a shame that the dads aren't more aware of the benefits of breastfeeding to both mom and baby...

At 11:16 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

A real pity about the state of breatstfeeding in Jordan. It is such a silly waste to buy formula especially in families where every penny counts. It makes me so sad for the children who need that extra boost of ammunition in such a difficult society. I hope the situation changes.

At 1:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


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At 8:42 AM , Anonymous snowwoman said...

Oh dear,oh dear! No maternity leave??? What did you have to do with your children?? Here in Sweden the day-care centers (nurseries) are only for children aged 1 yrs and up. Before that they are supposed to be at home with a parent. "Maternity leave" (for mum or dad), is about 12-13 months in Sweden and you get about 80 % of your salary from the state, not the employer...

At 7:15 PM , Blogger Hareega said...

I have seen many times conservative women in Jordan breastfeeding in public without even covering up, they just let it hang there in public whether it's the street or the hospital or even the public bus!!

Men sometimes forget that one day they were babies who needed milk. They should encourage women to breastfeed their kids.


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