Workplace discrimination towards women was rampant back in the 1950s. We are all familiar with this fact, but may think it had been left in the past. Sadly, with a little exploration we realize how widespread it is right now well into the 21st century.
In my role as a moderator of an online breastfeeding support group, I see so many young parents preparing for their babies arrival. They read books, attend classes and learn as much as they can about birth and breastfeeding. These parents often come online looking for information on when to start pumping and storing their milk for their baby. They try to decipher their baby's feeding patterns and sleep patterns so as best to accommodate them. These parents are working their butts off! Once they return to work my prayer for them is that things are smooth sailing. Some are lucky and work in environments supportive of new parents, for employers that understand the value of allowing adequate time to pump breastmilk for babies. Sadly, others will experience unfair practices. A group of these parents will actually be victims of blatant discrimination and cruelty!!
Recently, one of parents that I have had the pleasure of supporting online fell victim to some of the most outrageous mistreatment I have heard of in quite some time. She has agreed to allow me to quote her recent post online in regards to what occurred. This mother was approached by her boss and experienced the following discussion:
"Just got told by my upper management that my pumping every 2-3 hours is a burden to my team and it's ridiculous that my child eats that frequently. She also stated I need to seriously consider supplementing her with formula because something has to give as I look 'tired'."
I would like to also add that this occurred the evening that Hurricane Harvey was moving in on the Texas coast. This parent lives in the Houston area.
"I explained. "Look I work 10 various shifts ranging from 7am until midnight (currently working the midnight one and pumping now) and my baby nurses every 2 hours at night. It's tough but it's only for a season I'm fine.'"
Her boss's response:
"Those are excuses and I don't want to hear it ...I'm telling you you are not fine. You look terrible and you will burn out. And it is utterly ridiculous your child eats that often you need to do something before this effects your performance and face other consequences."
This parent stated that she has had no issues since returning to work. Her baby is approximately four months of age. Her boss then added that she should look into postpartum depression. My thoughts of course being that THIS treatment alone would lead to postpartum depression for most parents.
And the hits kept on coming....
"She also had the nerve to tell me to tell my husband to help me more. I was like 'because of my crap schedule he is Mr. Mom all the time. Every evening. Which is 80%. When I'm here he does everything. Every other weekend when I work he provides for her all by himself. Every night awakening, he comforts her. He changes her diaper. So thank you, but he does fine.'"
This may make you think how can this type of discrimination still be occurring in this day and age? What can we do about it? The bottom line is this treatment is out of line. Breastfeeding and working parents are doing everything they can to be good employees and great parents. They should feel supported by those around them and not face stress and anxiety each day that they go to work. If you are a parent experiencing prejudice like this, please speak out!
Formula feeding does not eliminate parenting. Whether parents choose to feed breastmilk or formula to their baby, they should be protected as parents. These parents will go through a period of adjustment when they return to work. Those who work long shifts may take a little longer to adjust. Coworkers, supervisors, etc. should be understanding of these adjustments and supportive of these new parents. The new parents will find their groove and adjust to their new life situation. We should all assume the best of each other and treat each other with respect.
How can co-workers be supportive of new parents?
Here are some links to resources where families can file complaints and also find accurate information about your rights as a breastfeeding parent.
Department of Labor
United States Breastfeeding Committee
With hurricane force winds and rain brewing in the Gulf of Mexico many of our local families are concerned about how to keep their frozen breastmilk safe if the power goes out. We have some great tips from a professional and we want to share them with you.
Additional tips in cases of bad weather:
Every Wednesday for the last couple of years the IBCLCs of The MILC Group have opened their doors from 10am to Noon for drop in Weight Checks and Lactation Chats. We decided we should write a short blog post letting people know what to expect during Weight Check Wednesday (WCW).
Weight Check Wednesday is an excellent way to get accurate information from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant for a minimal fee and in a short amount of time! It does not substitute for a consult.
The fee for Weight Check Wednesdays with The MILC Group is just $20. Come in and see us this Wednesday!
The MILC Group offices are located inside of Go Baby Go, 6104 Broadway, #C-4, San Antonio, TX 78209. Contact us online at www.TheMILCGroup.com or by phone at 210-960-MILC/210-960-6452.
When The MILC Group first started out we ran a series that we called "JJs Nip Tips." They were named for an adorable chunky baby who we spent a lot of time with. JJ is now a rambunctious preschooler and we wanted to take a moment to pull together a list of our favorite Nip Tips and post an adorable updated pic of our chunky mascot.
If you need breastfeeding support you can contact The MILC Group here:
Photo Info: The photo above is hilarious! I'm the one not looking at the camera and instead gazing lovingly in the direction of that baby! The other girls (one got cropped out) are sisters and as I recall they were French. I wish I could remember everyone's names but it was a long long time ago.
The other morning I was having some random thoughts/memories and wanted to share them. It always interests me to hear how someone developed their feelings surrounding breastfeeding. The following is one of my earliest memories of breastfeeding which I believe shaped me.
When I was little I lived in the tiny village of Ellon in Scotland. My Father is in the oil business and at the time the North Sea was where oil families lived. I loved my little village. We had no big stores, no malls, no nothing. What we did have was village charm. It was truly an idyllic way to grow up. We lived on a cul-de-sac and we knew everyone on the street. One of the ladies at the end of the street had a baby when I was about six or seven years old. This is when my love of babies and maybe Motherhood first started.
I would walk home from school each day and change out of my school uniform (picture Harry Potter style clothes). I'd ask my Mom if it was ok for me to go down the street to see the baby. Our neighbor was so lovely and she would welcome me each afternoon. We would sit together and she would have a cup of tea and make me a cup of hot Ribena (British berry drink). We would chat about my day and hers and about the baby. At some point the baby would get hungry and she would breastfeed the baby. I don't remember any hesitation on her part and I don't remember me thinking it should be done any other way. We would sit there and enjoy each other's company. It was all so simple and normal.
Seeing that baby being fed at the breast and having her Mother not question for a second whether or not she should do it in front of me was wonderful. I'm so glad that my own children have seen literally hundreds if not thousands of women breastfeed in front of them. Their whole world is made up of birth, babies and breastfeeding. It's normal life and that is so lovely.
I hope this little post gets you thinking about your first memories of breastfeeding and I hope they are at least half as positive as mine.
You've seen "lots" of IBCLCs ... Why should you see The MILC Group before you give up on Breastfeeding?
I read or hear this statement, sometimes daily, but definitely weekly. A desperate parent posting on the Internet that they are about to "give up" on breastfeeding. When asked if they have seen an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), they say that they have. They often add that they have seen "lots" of them. They say that the visits helped a bit with latch or positioning, but for whatever reason their nipples are still sore or baby is still not gaining weight appropriately. This is where I wish I could say, "but you haven't seen us!"
Why don't I say it? Essentially because it's rude. How do I say that we are better? What makes us better?
Many parents have met with a breastfeeding helper (hopefully they are an IBCLC) in the hospital in the days immediately after baby is born. Unfortunately, during their shift the hospital IBCLC is tasked with seeing an entire list of new families as well as the babies in the NICU. They are allotted about 15 minutes per family. Sometimes a family gets lucky and the IBCLC has more time to spend with them.
During an appointment with The MILC Group we spend 1.5 to 2 hours with families. We have the opportunity to fully listen and discuss the issues the breastfeeding dyad is having. We can examine the baby and observe a relaxed nursing session. We feel privileged to have this time with you.
Some families have gone back to the hospital lactation centers for outpatient visits to work on the latch, etc. It would be my expectation that during that consult a full and thorough oral examination would be done as well as looking at the baby's structure and function. Time should be taken to listen. A full health history can show much about what is going on. Sadly this is often not the case.
Why do the IBCLCs of The MILC Group take more time doing the type of exam mentioned above? Part of it is experience, but more so training we have received. We have chosen to pursue additional hands-on training as well as other professional development which has assisted us in identifying issues that others miss. Taking the time to really look at a baby. Is the baby's alignment straight or crooked? Does their body curve one way or their neck twist another? How does their mouth move when nursing? How does their jaw look? What is going on inside of their mouth?
This past week, a parent posted in an online group. They wrote they were switching to exclusively pumping and bottle feeding. They had seen several IBCLCs at the hospital and they were still having latch and pain issues. I tried to explain the bottle can get the job done feeding their baby, but the issue causing feeding at the breast to go poorly is still there. This is a hard thing to explain to someone who is in pain and desperate.
How many kids do you know who get pulled out for speech therapy in elementary school? How many times do you hear a parent say that their kids are picky eaters, won't eat foods with certain textures, that they can't swalllow pills, etc.? These are often signs of an oral issue that might have been caught with a thorough examination by a well-trained IBCLC. Taking a full and thorough health history and asking questions about family oral anatomy can tell so much! I always get excited putting the dots together for people. You can switch to bottles as so many families have done for the past 100 or so years BUT that oral anatomy won't change.
Can The MILC Group fix every problem? No. We can do our best though and through our Weight Check Wednesdays and Friday Breastfeeding Support Group we do our very best to continue supporting families who are having issues and working through problems. We offer support and encouragement. We provide referrals. We hope to be the people who keep you going. We do this because someone did it for us.
~Tina & Ginger