Breastfeeding at work is not a matter of debate

By Jennifer Garvey

According to the World Health Organization it is recommended to mothers to breast feed rather than use breast milk substitutes. It has been found that breast milk is the best source of nutrients for infants. However, with many mothers in the workforce it is hard for them to maintain breastfeeding their children with a hectic schedule. Further, many women aren’t given breaks or a designated area to breast feed and are told outright that they cannot breastfeed or they are restricted to do so in the bathrooms. Therefore, even if they had the time to breast feed on their breaks, or pump breast milk, they are unable because they aren’t given space to do so.

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In a recent article entitled, “Women may get right to breastfeed in public,” from the Sunday Times, a newspaper that circulates the United Kingdom, it stated that Ministers in the UK are discussing passing a new law that will allow women to breastfeed in public and take breaks at work to breastfeed or pump breast milk. In fact many other European countries have rules about women breastfeeding in the workplace. In France, women who have an infant less than 12 months of age are allowed two 30-minute breaks while women in Italy are allowed 2 one-hour rest periods. These victories are steps in the right direction for women in the workforce. Hopefully it will trickle across the Atlantic to help working women in the United States feel free to breast feed in public and at their jobs.

It is funny to me that in today’s society, it is perfectly acceptable for a women to walk around wearing skimpy bikinis, short skirts, shirts that show significant cleavage, and even as far as no shirt at all with two stickers to cover their nipples (as seen on rap artist Lil’ Kim at the 1999 MTV Music Awards and the Naked Cowgirl in Times Square.) Why is there a double standard here? Do these women showing off too much of their body (in my opinion) have a purpose in doing so? No. Do the hard working mothers who need to breastfeed have a purpose? Yes, to ensure the health of their child. Why is there even a debate on whether or not these women should be able to breast feed in public and at their jobs?