Monday, June 7, 2010

Breast Feeding Class

Yesterday, Janet and I made our way to the hospital where she will deliver for their breastfeeding class. The class was conducted by a Labor & Delivery Nurse/Certified Lactation Consultant.

The pro’s:

• She was great at pitching the benefits to baby and mom

• She tried her best to use both father and partner

• She gave easy to remember techniques for achieving good latch (Can you forget nose to nipple?)
The con:

• From the baby’s we were given to demonstrate the hold techniques to the videos we viewed, everything was VERY white and/or upper middle class targeted.

I have to admit, I’ve never spent much time thinking about the social politics of breastfeeding and baby nutrition. The only dad in the group was of Asian decent. As the practice baby was handed out, he made a comment similar to “What- no Asian eyes? This couldn’t be my baby.” While it was funny- it was also true. All of the practice babies were fair skinned with blue eyes. In a town like Dallas that is predominantly Hispanic, I was totally embarrassed at the lack of even practice dolls that were at least reflective a little diversity.  Breast feeding is so important to the wellbeing of a child that we/hospitals/encouragers should bend over backwards to make families feel supported and embraced in the classes.

Next part of the con that made me wax a little more thoughtful: While we were there, sitting in front of the $150+ breast pumps required for working moms who want to breastfeed, I started thinking of all the WIC dollars I had seen spent at our local grocery stores on formula. I’d always been curious as to why these families would use their WIC money on formula when breast milk is free. While I can’t possibly know why families do what they do, I can make an educated guess that many of the mothers work. If they are working and on WIC, sinking over $100 into a breast pump so that they can work and breastfeed probably isn’t in the question. Also, a WIC mother working in an environment where she could take a break to pump is probably suspect. As I was typing this, Google rewarded me with WIC information. Apparently in Texas, there is a breast pump program. The program covers all sorts of pumps!

So, now I’m back to the whole WIC participant’s employers being less friendly to pumping. Texas has no law (at least per LLLI- I didn’t get farther than that in my research) mandating room for pumping or even time allowed for pumping. Working in big business, I know that my business is far more generous than Federal/State law, and a company’s policies are all that really matter. I know how large businesses with low wage workers can be convinced to allow/enable/encourage pumping- all it takes is a business case, i.e. lower rates of absenteeism due to child illness and lower turnover rates. It’s the small business/self employed case I can’t really think through. Those of you out there in small businesses or self employed: How would you craft a case?

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