Talk about extremes in parenting styles. Seems like humans have it pretty good!This ad popped up in my newsfeed, and comments relating to this particular frame started erupting in all of my breastfeeding groups. So, Advil. You are insinuating here that there is some kind of correlation between the eruption of the first tooth and breastfeeding cessation, are you?
Posted by Children's Advil on Thursday, November 19, 2015
This is, oddly enough, a good conversation piece and enough of a sharp stick to prod me out of the grumps that are normally associated with this time of the semester for any college student, and I am not immune to the end of semester crush.
Paid Parental Leave
Amber Scorah wrote a deeply personal post about the death of her son, Karl, on his first day at daycare, and also launched a website, http://forkarl.com/, to allow parents to contact their representatives or presidential candidates to bring more light and discussion to the critical need for safeguards to be put in place that help to allow parents to stay with their children in the critical early months of life after birth.
Not only are mothers in the US twice as likely to die giving birth compared to their cohorts in Canada, the US is the ONLY developed country that provides no guaranteed paid maternity leave.
If you don't feel like clicking a link and reading more than this post, look at this lovely infographic from Think Progress:
The Low Wages of Child Care Workers vs. The High Cost of Childcare
According to a recent report published on November 5, 2015 by the Economic Policy Institute, child care workers have hourly wages 23% lower than those of similar workers in other occupations. Additionally, they rarely receive job-based benefits, and often live below the poverty line, themselves. Ironically, many child care workers do not earn enough to pay for child care themselves. In 32 states and the DC area, center-based infant care costs are equal to more than one-third of typical preschool worker earnings - a child care worker’s entire pay from January through at least April would be consumed by infant care costs.
To that point, the Economic Policy Institute also published a report in October detailing the high cost of childcare. While this has become a talking point for some policymakers, the solutions provided seem to frequently overlook what would be the most fundamental solution to the dilemma of exorbitant child care costs and the dangers inherent in putting your infant in child care centers that, due to the nature of the compensation provided and the lack of benefits, often have very high turnover rates and employ workers who are not only living below the poverty line but also lack the safety net of job related benefits.
And yes, Breastfeeding
Back to this Children's Advil advert. The "humans breastfeed their babies an average of three months" (citation?! - LOL) more likely reflects the Family Medical Leave Act that became effective in 1993 that allows employees that are eligible under the restrictions outlined in the act to receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. It's pretty much the least you can do. Most people can't afford to take 3 months of unpaid leave off, so they resort to things like short term disability or they hoard vacation days and take as much time off as possible before returning to work.
Pumping and working is a skillset of its own, independent of but related to feeding at the breast. You have to know your breast storage capacity, how frequently to remove milk, milk storage guidelines, the 1-1.25 ounce per hour rule for feeding breastfed babies expressed milk (because expressed breastmilk feeding amounts do not increase like formula amounts do). And there's the whole dance of asking for accommodations to express milk...suffice it to say, mothers who work outside of the home must develop a new skillset to continue breastfeeding their infant during separation to achieve the recommended length of breastfeeding (6 months exclusive, 12+ months with the addition of complementary solids).
If breastfeeding is a public health concern, the structural supports must be in place to facilitate adoption of this health behavior. Ensuring guaranteed paid maternity leave would address the issue of the high cost of child care. Ensuring that child care workers are receiving remuneration that is directly associated with their critical support role for the working family is also necessary. These are two fundamental steps in the right direction.
Why do we value mothers so little in the US? Here, mothers are more likely to die giving birth compared to other developed nations, and we persist as the only developed nation that forces mothers with newborns back to work sometime days after giving birth. It's absurd that this is an issue in a country with our level of resources. I don't want to hear lectures about socialism or that it's too expensive. I am tired of hearing talking points, dithering, discussion, and most of all I'm tired of the two contradictory messages of breastfeeding as a primary prevention strategy in the evidence based literature vs. breastfeeding as a lifestyle choice in media and advertising.
The foundation of success for an individual, for a community, for a nation, is to begin with the end in mind. You need to know where you want to go in order to achieve anything. And priority number one should be ensuring the health and protection of the most vulnerable members of our population - mothers and babies.