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Breastfeeding at work – will we ever see the day?

29 Apr

Miranda Kerr posted this pic of herself on Twitter and labelled it – ‘Another day at the office’. I’ve previously posted about Miranda Kerr’s apparent breastfeeding crusade – something I don’t wholeheartedly support. BUT – the picture and her comment does raise an interesting idea. Miranda is indeed in the rare position of being able to breastfeed in the workplace – if only all offices could be so accepting. It has always struck me as somewhat inconsistent that the World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life. But just how many workplaces are set up for women who return to work but also want to breastfeed their children – or at the very least – express milk for them?
The Australian Government’s paid parental scheme is certainly a step in the right direction – 18 weeks of pay at $543 a week is certainly helpful for some women who want to be at home with their babies. But it’s not the entire solution. What if you want to breastfeed beyond 18 weeks? What then? In my experience, the only real option is to express milk in a private place at work, probably the toilet, which is hardly acceptable. Would you want your dinner prepared in a toilet? Didn’t think so. Unfortunately, it’s one of those issues which I fear won’t be addressed in a hurry. Just this week, I read a news story about some research at the Montana State University which showed mums who breastfeed are seen by their colleagues as “less competent” than those who bottle-feed their babies. Read the story here. Through a series of experiments, they determined that breastfeeding mothers are viewed as less able to work and even thought of as more likely to be poor at maths. Can you imagine talking with your boss about accommodating your breastfeeding needs? It would be a weird conversation. But the point is – it shouldn’t be.


Breastfeeding – the good, the bad and the ugly

15 Feb

There’s a lot of pressure on women these days to breastfeed. A lot of it comes from the medical community, who seem to come up with research on a weekly basis about the health benefits of breastfeeding. And, more recently it seems the world’s supermodels have taken it upon themselves to add to that pressure. Miranda Kerr and Gisele Bundchen take a bow. It’s bad enough you’ve made women feel insecure about our less-than-supermodel-perfect bodies, now you’re making mums feel bad if they can’t breastfeed (note the word ‘can’t’ as opposed to ‘don’t’ – there’s a big difference). The photo of Miranda breastfeeding her baby is gorgeous. But haven’t we all seen enough of Miranda’s face and boobs? Quite frankly, I wanted to see the baby’s face. And did she ever stop to think about what that photo says to women who can’t breastfeed? Talk about rubbing their noses in it. Then there’s Gisele, who called for breastfeeding to be made compulsory in America, saying ‚ÄúSome people here [in the US] think they don’t have to breastfeed, and I think, ‘Are you going to give chemical food to your child when they are so little?'” Gee, what a moron.
Doesn’t she realise that pretty much all women want to breastfeed – but physically – it just doesn’t always work? Or they have to go back to their jobs. I guess that, having her supermodel millions, Gisele doesn’t have to worry about not working and she can afford a lactation consultant when breastfeeding doesn’t work as it should. What I would love to see in the media is an honest portrayal of what breastfeeding is really like – the reality. So, I’ve composed my list of the good, the bad and the ugly of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding – the good points

  • It’s free
  • It’s convenient – I can do it anywhere, anytime with no special equipment required
  • Apparently, there are health benefits (that said, I know heaps of bottlefed babies who are just as healthy, happy and clever as their breastfed buddies)
  • There is some satisfaction in looking at my bubba and knowing that every gram of her has come from me
  • It’s what boobs are meant for – although some men might disagree
  • It’s fun to have bigger breasts. Well it is for me – probably not for the already larger breasted. Also – it’s only temporary. The boobs end up worse for wear in the long run
  • I don’t have to sterilise anything
  • It’s helped me loose pregnancy weight – and means I can eat quite a lot without gaining weight
  • I love the look on my baby’s face as she feeds – a mixture of wonder, contentment, and pure love. Although, I’d probably get that same look if she were bottlefeeding.
  • it forces me to sit down for 10 – 20 minutes – and either watch TV – or look at my baby

Breastfeeding – the bad and the ugly

  • Flashing your boobs in public (I was more concerned about this with baby number 1 – this time round, I don’t really care)
  • Leaking milk everywhere. I have leaked milk on all my clothes, on my baby’s clothes, and on our furniture. Now, I’m just so used to smelling like stale milk, that I don’t even notice it. The other nasty bit is that if I’m not wearing breast pads, the leaks look like two really nasty sweat patches.
  • The sound of my baby drowning in milk because it comes out too quick
  • Being the only person who feed her means I’m also the one who has to do all the middle of the night feeds – and I can’t leave my baby for more than 3 hours at a time
  • At the start, when the milk came in, my boobs felt like two rocks sitting on my chest – very uncomfortable
  • The feeling of a let down for me is like a person giving me a nipple cripple to both breasts, simultaneously
  • Having a baby bite down on your nipple is no fun
  • Sometimes breastfeeding can feel like a bit of a battle. If my baby is uncomfortable and a bit windy, she’ll have a few sucks, then wrench off the nipple, then I re-attach her, and she wrenches off – and on it goes
  • Any alcohol I drink has to be timed to avoid feeds – and I hate not being able to take cold and flu tablets when I’m sick
  • Breastfeeding makes me thirsty – and hungry!