Nursing Is Natural
My son just turned five months last week and I can say without fail that the hardest part of having a baby is nursing.
The process was challenging when I was on maternity leave, but when I went back to work, it got even harder. Finding time in my work day to pump and rushing out the door at the end of the day to feed him is stressful. But I expected that.
What I didn’t expect was how hard we make it for moms to nurse.
80% of babies when they are born start to breast feed. Pregnant women in the US and across the world are encouraged to breast feed their child for up to one year. But the minute we deliver our child and march towards the goal of nursing for whatever period we choose, we receive little to no support. We are made to feel ashamed. We are asked to pump in dirty bathrooms and windowless rooms. When we travel, whether it’s on a 747 or an Amtrak, we stress about how and where we will pump or feed.
We do not design offices, airports, cities, or public spaces with the recognition that if we as a society want women to continue to breast feed because of the health benefits to the next generation, we must support them. That means ending bans against public breast feeding, creating comfortable environments at work, and recognizing that a woman feeding her child is natural, that it’s normal.
It means requiring all employers to provide a sanitary place to pump (not a bathroom) and pumping breaks for nursing employees. Under the law, companies with 50 employees or less are not required to do this at all (I am proud to say at Girls Who Code we do!).
Changing these practices begins with normalizing breast feeding. It begins with including photos or images of women breast feeding, because for so many women it’s a part of daily life. I am so proud of the New York Times for including a photo of me breast feeding Shaan in my #SundayRoutine, for adding to the movement to #normalizebreastfeeding.