Friday, September 01, 2006

On the Job, Nursing Mothers Find a 2-Class System

This article from the New York Times illustrates how the gap between rich and poor/educated and less so is reinforced through disparate policies on breast milk expression on the job. As important as breast milk is to a child's development, couldn't corporations (and small businesses) make more of an effort to accomodate nursing mothers? It should not be easier and more accepted to take a smoke break than a milk expression break. Sorry, smokers. I used to be one of you and still feel this way.


Patrick Armstrong said...

Well, it is always going to be easier to take a smoke break since almost anyone with sense and a pack of Marlboros can smoke outside, while nursing mothers generally do so privately and indoors.

liberalandproud said...

Of course, but if a corner of each employee break room could be curtained off for milk expression, it could make things a lot easier for new mothers. Did you read the article? Or does your aversion to the NY Times run tht deep?

Patrick Armstrong said...

I did read the article, you're the one who brought up the smoke break being easier thing. That's like comparing beach access between someone who lives on Island City and someone who lives in Waycross.

Of course it is easier for the Island City resident, because they can walk 15 feet in any direction and get to the beach.

Most of the wage earning jobs I've worked didn't even have a break room, much less space to 'curtain off.' Us smokers were forced into the back alleys next to the dumpsters, outside into the rain, and the time we spent smoking always counted against our break time. Are there new mothers who want to pump anywhere near the grease dumpster?

What you're looking at with the 'milk expression' situation (and I'd say frame it as Lactate Intolerance instead), is that it is much more difficult to pump at some jobs than it is at others.


At the 'corporate' jobs I've worked (Borders, University of Georgia, Troy University) pumping would be easily accessible due to availability of private locked rooms and office refrigerators. At the wage jobs I've worked (all restaurants) we didn't even have break rooms, and workload was dependent on time of day.

Also, restaurants have certain health rules they must follow regarding what goes into their refrigerators and where. Any discussion of this must also entail health inspector codes.

And those jobs, I'm sure, are much more pump accessible than agricultural work, construction, factory work, etc, but all of these are occupying a lower tier of access.

The best remedy? Well built and comfortable women's bathrooms + easy access to pump equipment.

liberalandproud said...

The portion of the article about the Starbucks worker mentioned that smoke breaks were much more accessible than pumping. I, too, spent time out by the dumpster destroying my lungs. I think your suggestion of better women's restrooms with pumping facilities is great. Now, if businesses would only implement it. Also, attitudes need to be changed. Mother's milk is too important to babies' health.