This NYT article on the economic implications of breastfeeding is worth a look.
When a new mother returns to Starbucksâ€™ corporate headquarters in Seattle after maternity leave, she learns what is behind the doors mysteriously marked â€œLactation Room.â€
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 chainâ€™s counters want to do the same, they must barricade themselves in small restrooms intended for customers, counting the minutes left in their breaks.
â€œBreast milk is supposed to be the best milk, I read it constantly when I was pregnant,â€ said Brittany Moore, who works at a Starbucks in Manhattan and feeds her 9-month old daughter formula. â€œI felt bad, I want the best for my child,â€ she said. â€œNone of the moms here that I know actually breast-feed.â€
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 â€” generally, well-paid professionals â€” 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 â€” including many who work in restaurants, factories, call centers and the military â€” 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.
Do you think though, that if breastfeeding wasn’t such a taboo thing (requiring these posh “lactating rooms”), that women of all situations would have an easier time of it?