A couple of months ago, a mother was kicked out of a museum in New York for breastfeeding, a perfectly legal act in that state. For some reason, mothers continue to suffer discrimination and humiliation for breastfeeding, even though doctors recommend breastfeeding for all infants.
The medical profession and the government agree that breastfeeding is best for mothers and children. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services leads a National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign to promote breastfeeding, and notes on their website that, "The longer a mom and baby breastfeeds, the greater the benefits are for both mom and baby." (Want to reduce health care costs? Here is one opportunity.) Yet for many mothers it is nearly impossible to live up to the demands of work and baby. And most mothers must work to help support their families.
Just telling mothers that they should breastfeed their babies is not enough. We need to make it possible for them to actually do it. This is an opportunity for both businesses and our government. Representative Carolyn Maloney's Breastfeeding Promotion Act (H.R. 3799) would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to protect breastfeeding by new mothers by providing tax credits to employers who provide a place to breastfeed and/or provide breast pumps. This makes it a lot easier for women who want to give their babies breastmilk and keep their jobs.
As you may know, 82% of American women become mothers by the time they are forty-four years old, so this issue -- though invisible to most of us -- is in fact critically important to a large portion of our nation. To read the bill, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:H.R.2236.
Unfortunately this act is currently stalled in Congress, and isn't going to move forward without increased citizen pressure. MomsRising.org members are asking their Representatives to co-sponsor HR 3799. You can join us by clicking here. MomsRising.org members have successfully raised awareness about the need to protect the rights of breastfeeding mothers in the past and are working to do it again. Let's support mothers who are nurturing and caring for the next generation of Americans.
This post was co-written by Joan Blades and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner.
A Peaceful Revolution is a weekly blog about work/life satisfaction done in collaboration with MomsRising.org. Read a post by a leading thinker in the field every week.