Why don’t more women breastfeed, again?

If you had any doubts that breastfeeding in America is a luxury, this story should clear them up for you.

When a new mother returns to Starbucks’ corporate headquarters in Seattle after maternity leave, she learns what is behind the doors mysteriously marked “Lactation Room.”

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 chain’s counters want to do the same, they must barricade themselves in small restrooms intended for customers, counting the minutes left in their breaks.

And Starbucks is generally very well-regarded for its employee benefits. Certainly, the fact that the stores are a lot smaller and serve a lot fewer employees than corporate headquarters has something to do with this. However, it’s not the whole story.

New mothers are told that “breast is best,” and that message is reinforced with guilt. (On the flip side, nursing mothers are also given the message that nursing in public is shameful and they should not “whip out” their breasts in public. They’re also told by idiots like Shmuley Boteach that breastfeeding gets in the way of their relationships with their husbands, because God forbid a breast be used for something other than a man’s pleasure. But I digress.)

Nursing can also be a full-time occupation in itself, meaning that those nursing mothers who have to return to work find themselves facing a dilemma — do they wean the baby off breastmilk and substitute formula — practically a crime in the books of some pro-lactation organizations — or do they try to pump at work so that they can provide breast milk to their babies even when they’re away?

Not surprisingly, while it’s generally not easy for any working mother to balance work and lactation, it’s a whole lot easier for those in more high-powered jobs than it is for factory workers or shop clerks.

But as pressure to breast-feed increases, a two-class system is emerging for working mothers. For those with autonomy in their jobs — generally, well-paid professionals — 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 — including many who work in restaurants, factories, call centers and the military — 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.

It is a particularly literal case of how well-being tends to beget further well-being, and disadvantage tends to create disadvantage — passed down in a mother’s milk, or lack thereof.

Here’s one mother’s story:

“I feel like I had to choose between feeding my baby the best food and earning a living,” said Jennifer Munoz, a former cashier at Resorts Atlantic City Casino who said she faced obstacles that included irregular breaks and a refrigerator behind a locked door. She said she often dumped her milk into the toilet, knowing that if she did not pump every few hours, her milk supply would soon dwindle.

The casino denies discouraging Ms. Munoz from pumping. “We have policies and procedures in place to accommodate the needs of all of our employees,” Brian Cahill, a Resorts spokesman, said.

As I’m sure most of you who work for pay know, just because a company has policies and procedures in place to accommodate the needs of employees does not mean that those employees will be accommodated. For example, when I worked at the Evil Empire, I was by policy entitled to 20 days’ vacation a year. Officially. I worked there two years and used 7 days. Every time I tried to take time off, I was ridiculed by the senior associates (including one who left every night at 6 and took two-week vacations) for being a slacker, received calls from the office to ask stupid questions that could wait until I got back, and forced to reschedule multiple times for non-emergency work situations that “came up.” And this was as a supposedly high-powered lawyer. At least I had a lock on my office door, for when I needed to cry in private.

But, no, nobody “officially” discouraged me from taking time off. Just as I’m sure nobody at the casino “officially” discourages Ms. Munoz from pumping.

Compare Ms. Munoz’s situation with that of women with more autonomous jobs in corporate America:

In corporate America, lactation support can be a highly touted benefit, consisting of free or subsidized breast pumps, access to lactation consultants, and special rooms with telephones and Internet connections for employees who want to work as they pump, and CD players and reading material for those who do not. According to the nonprofit Families and Work Institute, a third of large corporations have lactation rooms.

Even without these perks, professional women can usually afford a few months of maternity leave during which to breast-feed. When they return, they can generally find an office for the two or three 20-minute sessions per workday typically necessary. Even bathrooms — the pumping spots of last resort — are more inviting at an accounting firm than in a fast-food restaurant.

Wealthier women can spend their way out of work-versus-pumping dilemmas, overnighting milk home from business trips and buying $300 pumps that extract milk quickly, along with gizmos that allow them, in what seems like a parody of maternal multitasking, to pump while driving to and from work.

In contrast, said Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on breast-feeding, her patients cannot afford a basic $50 breast pump — an investment, she said, that “could prevent a lifetime of diseases.” The academy urges women to breast-feed exclusively for six months and to continue until the child turns 1.

Not surprisingly, despite successful efforts by public health authorities to encourage breastfeeding among new mothers, many stop doing it when the reality of balancing work and breastfeeding hits them.

Because of this and similar efforts, 73 percent of mothers now breast-feed their newborns, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But after six months, the number falls to 53 percent of college graduates, and 29 percent of mothers whose formal education ended with high school. In a study of Oklahoma mothers who declined to breast-feed, nearly a third named work as the primary reason. Others, like Ms. Moore of Starbucks, find the early days of breast-feeding frustrating, and their impending return to work means they have little incentive to continue.

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40 comments for “Why don’t more women breastfeed, again?

  1. Frumious B
    September 1, 2006 at 11:22 am

    disadvantage tends to create disadvantage — passed down in a mother’s milk, or lack thereof

    That’s right, a high percentage of Harvard rejects were formula fed. Or something. Please.

  2. September 1, 2006 at 11:30 am

    Yup. And they don’t even mention the cost issue. The moms who can least afford it end up spending a fortune on formula and bottles, while the moms who could actually afford formula are able to continue breastfeeding.

  3. Car
    September 1, 2006 at 11:32 am

    It’s a metaphor.

    Yet another in the “so obvious it’s amazing it’s news” stories. I’m glad someone is paying attention. It really pisses me off that so much of the work world is so inflexible as to small things that would make life so much easier for their employees. How much is the bottom line affected if a counter person at McDonald’s has a 20 minute longer shift, allowing for a 20 minute pumping break in the middle, and gets to use the manager’s private office or bathroom to do so?

  4. Siobhan
    September 1, 2006 at 12:48 pm

    How much maternity leave do mothers get in the US?

    In Canada they get a year, so most women who can breast feed do so for the whole time they are off work.

  5. Rhiannon
    September 1, 2006 at 1:02 pm

    6 weeks

  6. bridgetka
    September 1, 2006 at 1:08 pm

    Siobhan: none. It’s up the company you work for whether you can even take time off, let alone whether you get paid for it.

  7. occhiblu
    September 1, 2006 at 1:09 pm

    That’s not necessarily true. Some states mandate maternity leave, though even in extremely liberal Massachussets, the required minimum was one month unpaid. (And presumably that applies only to organizations over a certain size.)

  8. Rhiannon
    September 1, 2006 at 1:14 pm

    yeah I think that company size is 12 or under, that isn’t covered by FMLA. Also in order to be covered by FMLA, you must have worked at the company for 12 months.

  9. rt
    September 1, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    rhiannon, companies with fewer than 50 employees are not covered by FMLA. does anyone know what percentage of ccompanies in the US are under 50 employees?

    you’re right that you have to work for a year before you’re covered. the real kicker is that any leave time (up to 12 weeks per year) is totally unpaid. if you want paid leave time, the company either has to have a policy or short term disability (which, needless to say, only applies to those birthing the baby, not all the parents). and short term disability usually on pays 5-6 weeks, unless there are major complications.

    i think most US parent would kill for canada’s leave time!

  10. Matan
    September 1, 2006 at 2:32 pm

    I think Massachusetts has a bill pending to mandate 12 weeks unpaid, don’t we?

  11. Annie
    September 1, 2006 at 2:34 pm

    I was in the Navy when my first son was born and I struggled to breastfeed him for three weeks before giving up. I knew when I returned to work after my precious six week maternity leave that breastfeeding was not an option; I worked 13 hour days and was often told things like, “That baby didn’t come in your seabag” meaning that the Navy gave me everything I needed and that I didn’t have the right to care about anything else or have any other responsibilities.

    I’ve had two children since then and they were (are in one one case) breastfed. That’s only possible because I don’t work outside of the home. If I were working outside of the home I doubt that I’d be able to breastfeed – in all my years of working I NEVER saw a Lactation Room or was told about any kind of Lactation “benefit”.

    I’m glad that I’ve been able to breastfeed my children – we all know that breastfeeding is healthier. I’m glad that there’s so much support for breastfeeding mothers. That said, I wish we could find that happy medium where mothers aren’t guilted into breastfeeding. If I didn’t experience so much social pressure, I doubt that I would have breastfed any of my kids. I just don’t love it and I frequently wish that I could own my body again.

    And as for the breastfeeding in public issue: Most breastfeeding mothers will only nurse a baby in pubic as a last resort. I don’t like to “whip it out” in pubic, or even in my own home when there are people around who I would be uncomfortable with seeing my breasts. I try to find somewhere private to nurse my baby, not only because I want privacy, but also because there’s less distraction for my son. If I have to resort to nursing him in public it’s because there is nowhere else to do it. And I’ll kindly thank those who are offended by the sight of my breasts to leave us alone so he can eat and I can cover my breasts again.

  12. September 1, 2006 at 5:29 pm

    my take on reading this was that it further confirms my (unsupported by data) suspicion that breastfeeding is largely a middle-class luxury, and not something that is readily practicable for many or most working class women.

    and i also suspect that this may tie into many of the health claims that are made about breast feeding. now i have no doubt that breast milk is better for a baby than formula, especially when it comes to passing on antibodies &c.

    however, when it comes to the claims that breastfeeding prevents things like childhood obesity or diabetes, because children who are exclusively breastfed as babies are less likely to develop these conditions, well, i wonder if the studies are adjusted for differences in social class.

    since it’s been so well documented that obesity (for example) is directly tied to social class, due to institutional barriers that are in place that make it difficult for working class and poor people to have access to healthy food choices, excercise, &c, and there are also institutional barriers in place that make it difficult for working class mothers to breastfeed, i wonder if we’re looking at correlations and not causation here.

    disclaimer: i’m a middle-class professional woman currently on 6-month maternity leave who tried to exclusively breastfeed and was unable to provide enough milk, so now supplements with formula. so i guess i have a vested interest in believing that i’m not d&mning my child to a lifetime of health problems, simply because my body is cursed with a low milk supply.

  13. Norah
    September 1, 2006 at 5:35 pm

    I think Massachusetts has a bill pending to mandate 12 weeks unpaid, don’t we?

    Actually, I read recently that Mass. is considering a paid maternity leave similar to California’s law. Only a percentage of your salary, of course, but better than nothing.

    I swear, this is the most back-assward country in the Western world when it comes to families. Actual families, that is; not just the lip-service of the religious Right variety.

  14. Frumious B.
    September 1, 2006 at 6:15 pm


    You are not putting your child at risk for a lifetime of health problems by feeding it formula. Babies definately benefit from the Ig antibodies in breastmilk until they start making their own, but beyond that, the data are too confounded to conclude that formula fed babies will grow up to be asthmatic morons.

    This is just the kind of situation that pisses me off about breastfeeding proponents. I, personally, am thankful that we have an alternative to breastmilk for women like trishka. Breastfeeding should be an option, no more. If women do not take that option, for whatever personal reasons which are nobody else’s business, they should not be browbeaten with bad data.

  15. Car
    September 1, 2006 at 9:06 pm

    But the point of the article was that it is NOT an option for a large number (probably the majority) of women. Breastfeeding is only an option when women have the chance to pump at work, or get paid time off. FLMA or not, most women can’t afford to go three months without a paycheck. Even for the more middle-class women who hae all that cushy pump time, it takes several weeks in contact with the baby to get a good supply and routine established so pumping can be successful.

  16. Argent
    September 1, 2006 at 9:09 pm

    Totally off topic sorry, but I can’t find the info anywhere. Is Pandagon.net down? I’m in Australia and haven’t been able to access the site for over 2 days now.

  17. Alexandra Lynch
    September 1, 2006 at 11:28 pm

    There’s not a lot of institutional support for breastfeeding, at least in the American rural midwest. I got packets of free formula in the hospital, but no lactation consultants came to teach me what to do, or help me figure out why I couldn’t nurse.

    After I weaned my last child, I discovered that I had inverted nipples, and that was the problem. Oh. Nice to know NOW.

  18. September 2, 2006 at 1:26 am

    For me I was so determined to breastfeed because breastmilk is free! And formula is like 20-40 dollars every few days!

    But reading about the posh lactation rooms made me jealous. Free breast pumps! Must be nice. I could only afford the little handpump which takes an hour and gives me carpal tunnel.

  19. September 2, 2006 at 2:43 pm

    I’m glad Starbuck’s offers the free electric pump to women at their corporate HQ. Though the women there are more likely to be able to afford their own automatic pump, of course, as opposed to the women behind the counters. Heck, the stores would be better off letting the baristas use the machine, as they’re a lot faster and more efficient than hand pumping. Funny how we allocate resources in our country, funneling them first of all to the people who could get them in other ways and where they’re less needed…

  20. Older
    September 2, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    Argent, it hasn’t been down, but it’s been funky.

  21. September 2, 2006 at 6:15 pm

    And honestly, pumps are not always all that great, even hospital-grade ones. There are visual, audio, and smell cues that your baby gives out that help you “let down” and it often means you produce better with your baby there than with a pump.

    The best solution would be getting businesses to develop partnership with daycare center chains to have them on-site, so moms could nurse and see their kids once or twice a day. It would cut down on employee absenteeism, would allow parents to come back to work sooner, and would be entirely feasible for many businesses to do especially if they were given tax breaks and other encouragement. I suspect many parents would be more than willing to pay for all or part of a daycare if it was in the same building as their work, and could even use those wonderful health saving plans to offset some of the cost.

    But no wait: that’s Communist! Or something.

  22. Argent
    September 2, 2006 at 7:17 pm

    Thanks Older.

  23. September 2, 2006 at 9:29 pm

    My God, I hope these pumping rooms isn’t how Starbucks procures its dairy products! “Soylent Green is people!”

  24. September 3, 2006 at 7:00 am

    You will never catch me at Starbucks again. Quote socialist thought and I will poke holes in all your theorys. But try to make a woman a second class citizen because she is properly caring for her child and I see red. Keep pointing out these issues.

    And by the way the Navy statement of not being issued in your seabag is old and not funny any more. But the positive side is that the military is FORCED to obey its superiors. If you can get breast feeding through congress as a military right it will be enforced as such. Keep making these prudes pay for their shortsightedness.

  25. September 3, 2006 at 12:06 pm

    Obviously breast feeding is preferable to formula. But to somehow imply that the next generation of poor people is going to become further disadvantaged because they were bottle fed? That seems a bit out there. It’s not as though breastfeeding will give your child a 150 IQ automatically, or that if you don’t breast feed it will have an IQ of 70. And frankly, the idea that people in executive type jobs get more benefits and are treated better than poor people at shitty jobs is not news.

  26. September 3, 2006 at 1:15 pm

    Obviously breast feeding is preferable to formula. But to somehow imply that the next generation of poor people is going to become further disadvantaged because they were bottle fed?

    Huh? That’s not the point. Starbucks, among other companies, tries to get PR mileage out of supposedly being a great place to work, and having forward-thinking policies (like providing workers with places to pump breastmilk, or on-site childcare, on-site workout facilities, etc.). They bank on the idea their customers will have brand-loyalty based in part on how “great” a company it is (look! they’re so environmentally positive! they’re so feminist!—whatever). These companies aren’t so keen on their customers realizing that the veneer of corporate benevolence is pretty damn thin.

    Anyway, it’s not that formula is bad for babies; it clearly isn’t. Breastmilk has advantages over formula, but not to the extent that you’re going to be able to pick out who was breastfed and who was formula fed in grade school. No—the biggest benefit of breastmilk over formula for working women is the cost. Sixty dollars a month breastpump rental is significantly cheaper than formula. Considering the amount of “self-help” diatribes handed out to women, why do we look aside when barriers are placed in the way of women’s attempts to engage in self-help—-for example, by choosing to save money by breastfeeding?

    Starbucks has done a lot of image-tweaking (fair-trade rainforest coffee, anyone?) in order to get more dollars out of certain demographics—the kind of people who might otherwise shun corporate chains. Shedding light on their not-so-pro breastfeeding attitude when it comes to the baristas rather than the corporate desk jockeys might change the company policy, and make a real difference in the lives of the women who aren’t in corporate offices.

  27. September 3, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    What, though, should Starbucks retail chains be doing? Reasonably doing, in this world where there isn’t great maternity leave and there isn’t room in most locations to put in a small pumping room. Yes, they can work out breaks for nursing women, and they can rent them pumps, and they can give them space in the many fridges to store milk. (And they should do these as a matter of course, or at least the first and last of them.) Would that be sufficient, even without a dedicated space?

  28. kate
    September 3, 2006 at 9:45 pm

    Frankly, I could see a whole lot of people getting ballistic if they knew their baristas handling their latte were just in the restroom handling her breastmilk. I’ve worked in food service and it is indeed an employ akin to modern class servitude.

    Why is everyone so surprised that the working world, especially the lower end of the working spectrum makes no allowance for breastfeeding or family leave? C’mon people! By and large on the lower working spectrum, women are still considered a ‘liability’ and their associated ‘issues’ such as pregnancy or family care as a costly inconvenience.

    Hell, I’ve heard often that women come with the baggage of family medical leave, pregnancy, pms and sexual harrassment lawsuits. These people are supposed to give a damn about a woman who wants to breast feed? You’ve got to be kidding me.

  29. kate
    September 3, 2006 at 9:53 pm

    I take that back, many areas of the service industry enjoy the ability to exploit the over burdened and distracted lives of lower income women by placing them on near part time employment at the cash register.

  30. Norah
    September 4, 2006 at 12:16 am

    Frankly, I could see a whole lot of people getting ballistic if they knew their baristas handling their latte were just in the restroom handling her breastmilk.

    Really? What, do they think the baristas can hold their pee for eight hours too?

  31. September 4, 2006 at 9:53 am

    Really? What, do they think the baristas can hold their pee for eight hours too?

    I think they possibly do. Some people don’t consider the person on the other side of the counter as anything other than a machine to serve their wants.

  32. Katie
    September 4, 2006 at 10:40 am

    Nick Kiddle–Having worked in both retail and food service, I know that you are absolutely right.

    I used to work at the fine jewelry counter of a chain department store. Some days, I would work 8-10 hour shifts without anyone else to relieve me, since we had a fairly small staff, and it was difficult to find anyone else to work if someone called in sick. But I was still not allowed to eat or drink in my department, I couldn’t sit down, and if I wanted to pee, I had to call a manager to watch my department for me, even though security had a camera trained on it all of the time, and the entry to the counter area was locked. If a manager was busy and I had to go, it was too bad. The managers were also not trained to wait on customers in my area (our company basically leased space in the department store, so even the managers knew little to nothing about the department and they had not been bonded, so they really weren’t supposed to handle the jewelry), so they would tell customers to please wait. I got more shit from customers about going to PEE than anything else. Because I should be a machine that doesn’t have bodily needs so that customers won’t be delayed for five minutes in looking at shitty jewelry they probably won’t buy anyway.

    I won’t even talk about food service…


  33. Katie
    September 4, 2006 at 10:42 am

    And, ugh, I am getting in a bad habit of posting on top of previous posts, but I will say that I took that job because it was prefereable to the job I had previously, working at a privately-owned business store governed by an abusive, sociopathic, alcoholic boss.

    I am so very glad to be working in the public sector in an office position now. It took me months to realize that I didn’t have to *ask* to go to the bathroom.

  34. Katie
    September 4, 2006 at 10:43 am

    “privately-owned jewelry store”

  35. joholly
    September 4, 2006 at 1:51 pm

    I had a different job with each baby. Both jobs allowed me to breastfeed on demand, and each time my child’s daycare was within 5 miles of where I worked.

    At one job, this mean I worked 80% time to account for the time I breastfed (therefore, was paid less, but could go home on time). At the other job, this meant that I stayed longer to make up for the 2-3 times I had to leave to feed my baby.

    My employers (one a small firm, one a university) compromised so that I could do something I thought was very important. Prior to each baby’s birth, I approached each employer and stated how important it was for me to breastfeed my baby, and made my offer so that it didn’t impact my employer much and the employer could see that I was not asking for the moon, either.

    Neither job was particularly well paid nor did I really have much in the way of backup; sometimes people had to wait for me to get back, but I never had a complaint.

    Both employers sucked it up, though, and for one child I managed 9 months, and the second child managed 6 months.

    That was in the 80s. I’m sad that that solution does not appear to be workable now.

  36. kate
    September 4, 2006 at 9:32 pm

    I worked in different grocery stores in different departments among them for a total of just over eight years. I can say with a certainty that in no way would there have been flexibility for pumping breasts or taking time off to get home. I quit my last job because I had to leave my children at home to fend for themselves to get to grade school because I couldn’t afford to pay, nor even find anyone to watch them in the morning. I had to be at work ‘like everyone else’ at the allotted time, no compromises. My children calling me on the company phone crying for me was the final nod that got me to seriously rethink my priorities and direction.

    Low wage work does not allow compromises with their employees when the employer knows full well that they can re-staff said position easily and have someone functionally trained within a matter of weeks.

    And as for ‘benefits’ that Starbucks brags of for family leave, etc., this is only a mere fantasy for millions of people in service work. At all the service jobs I held, holding down to just under 32 hours in order to keep the employee at part-time status was common. Thus, although benefits were promised for fulltime workers, the employer simply staffed with a larger number of part-time workers in order to fulfill staffing demands.

    I breastfed all my children. I made the decision to stay at home and work only when absolutely necessary in order to be with them all the time. I don’t know if the choice was a good one as I have no way of knowing how things would have turned out had I left my horrid marriage early, I can only speculate.

    But I do know that no matter what the econmic crisis was at the moment or where we were living, or moving to, my children’s feeding schedule never was interrupted. The uninterrupted quiet time and bonding was a consistency that probably helped to keep me together emotionally.

  37. Frumious B
    September 5, 2006 at 10:41 am

    Frankly, I could see a whole lot of people getting ballistic if they knew their baristas handling their latte were just in the restroom handling her breastmilk.

    1) none of the customers’ business.
    2) baristas can wash their hands.

    years ago, someone related to me a conversation he overheard on a bus between two guys heading to a strip club. The one guy didn’t think topless waitresses were such a great idea b/c they might lactate on the food. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    The uninterrupted quiet time and bonding

    hear hear. I’d like to hear less pressure on women to breastfeed and more pressure on employers to allow parents of all genders the flexibility to spend time with their children. Many of the supposed benefits of breastfeeding may in fact be due to the uninterrupted quiet time.

  38. Rhiannon
    September 5, 2006 at 10:57 am

    I don’t know how I would’ve ever breastfed my baby for the 6 months I did if I’d had to work. (I was on welfare and they gave me 1 year before I had to join one of their back-to-work programs.. course that also meant living on $230 a month, one of the many reasons I lived with my father at that time). It just all sounds so complicated.

    I know if I worked in a larger company (not the 6-8 people at the company I currently work at) I would want some lactation provisios and good paid leave policies(for moms & dads) – even if I never had a baby again. A real luxury would be an on-site daycare facility… that would save time getting to work AND I could visit my baby during the day on my breaks.

    You can tell the quality of a company by how it treats it’s lowest earners and in most cases… the quality is very poor.

  39. jennie
    September 5, 2006 at 11:22 am

    What, though, should Starbucks retail chains be doing? Reasonably doing, in this world where there isn’t great maternity leave and there isn’t room in most locations to put in a small pumping room. Yes, they can work out breaks for nursing women, and they can rent them pumps, and they can give them space in the many fridges to store milk. (And they should do these as a matter of course, or at least the first and last of them.) Would that be sufficient, even without a dedicated space?

    Well, all of those things: breaks for nursing women, group rates on pump rental (because if Starbucks decided to go with a particular pump for all its nursing employees, I bet they could get a volume discount on the equipment, in the same manner that health insurance is cheaper-per-employee for large corporations than it is for individuals or small businesses), even sacrificing the space that one table takes to provide a small (admittedly probably pretty spartan, but better than sitting on a toilet) lactation “room” (more like closet, true, but still), and yes, adding another bar fridge. I mean they need fridges to store cow and soy milk, anyway.

    What else could they do? How about partnering with local day cares so that employees can receive subsidized child-care near their places of employment (on the volume discount theory)? How about including a paid mat. leave as part of their much-vaunted employee benefit package?

    If big corporations take the lead and provide accomodations for their front-line staff (the baristas, the shop-workers, the factory-floor workers), they’re not only helping their workers, they’re also providing a positive model for other businesses. If you can point at a Starbucks or a grocery store chain and say “Look, they’ve made these accomodations for women, and it hasn’t affected their profit margins,” to other corporate wanks who insist it can’t be done.

  40. occhiblu
    September 5, 2006 at 3:43 pm

    trishka, there was just an article in Slate about how most people exaggerate the health benefits of breastfeeding, and how breast milk doesn’t actually transfer antibodies to the child as is commonly thought. It also talks about the point you make with regards to class differences in who’s breastfeeding complicating studies about the benefits of breast milk.

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