Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced a bill that would require employers to allow breastfeeding on the job. The New Mothers’ Breastfeeding Promotion and Protection Act would also allow for unpaid breaks up to one hour a day for women to use a breast pump during their child’s first year, and would offer tax credits for companies that set up nursing stations, provide breast pumps or hire lactation consultants.
Maloney said, “New moms are being torn between holding on to their jobs and providing the healthiest nutrition possible for their new baby.”
Many women have called Maloney’s office to report having been fired or having decreased pay as a result of wanting to breast-feed. Professor Gartner of the University of Chicago attributes much of the problem to U.S. cultural prejudice which finds nursing “indecent.”
“The United States more than any other country has made the breast a sex object to the exclusion of its biological functions,” commented Gartner.
Women in the U.S. breast-feed less than in most other industrialized countries. According to the Academy of Pediatrics, less than 60% of U.S. mothers nurse when they are discharged from the hospital and less than 22% continue on to the six month. Only 12.5% of full-time working moms nurse into the fifth month.