Just Bloomed co-founder Anne shares why she feels that parental leave is the key to successful breastfeeding.
We're deep into summer, and I'm a mom who is lucky enough to spend extra time with my kids during these months. As a social worker in schools, I get to break from my regular daily routine for several weeks. And this year I was so ready for a more relaxed routine. It turns out that having three kids ages three and under makes just getting to work is a lot of work. The constant cycle of packing lunches, unpacking lunches, meal planning, laundry...all just to go to work. Crazy!
But now we get to "relax" (is it really possible to relax with 3 toddlers? No.) and go with the flow for a few weeks. I am always grateful to have these summer months off, especially now that I have the girls. I was thinking about this time last year (what I can remember of it in my sleep-deprived haze) and remembering how great it felt to be done pumping and just be able to go back to nursing on demand for the summer. And that made me feel lucky. How many moms don't get to make it to their breastfeeding goal, whatever it may be, because they have to work? Just plain nursing can be difficult to master let alone pumping.
It reminded me of an article about parental leave and breastfeeding that I came across recently. According to the research, if this country offered parental leave then many more mothers would be able to successfully breastfeed. Amazingly, only 12 percent of U.S. companies offer paid maternity leave! And the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby's life. "According to one estimate, if 80 percent of mothers breastfed for six months, the U.S. could save $10.5 billion a year in health care costs through reduced incidence of pediatric diseases for breastfed infants during the first year of life."
Those statistics are meaningful, but I keep thinking about emotionally how much better off mothers would feel also. I mean, I've talked to a lot of moms who did not make their breastfeeding goal because they had to go back to work. Many of them still feel upset about that. That's awful. If we were a country that was truly supportive of families then we would make these policy changes to support whole families. So, while I am grateful that I happen to have a ten-month job that allowed me to meet my breastfeeding goals, it shouldn't be about the job you have. Every woman should be able to have the opportunity to meet her goal regardless of employment.
Something to think about while I'm "relaxing" with my toddlers.