A friend of mine shared this article with me, and I just thought I would jot down a few comments regarding it. It concerns employers being obligated to provide pumping rooms for breastfeeding mothers.
First, I believe it truly heartbreaking that mothers to young babies must go back to work – or pressured into thinking they must, which at the bottom line gives the same result. And not just because of breastfeeding, of course, even though it's certainly a crying shame to miss out on the wondrous experience of nursing one's babies.
Second, I don't think employment should be a charity institution. If there's a company that employs young mothers and decides it's still profitable, even with maternity leave, pumping rooms, more sick leave and all the related costs, that's one thing. But if a company doesn't gain, only lose, from hiring mothers to young children, and is still required by law to hire them and provide certain conditions which aren't profitable to the company, it's not fair to the employer and other employees. If I had been an employer, I certainly wouldn't like to have to hire someone who will eventually cost me more money than they bring in. Even if it sounds very callous, and even if they need the money very badly. It isn't good for the economy to turn employment into charity.
I do believe in anti-discrimination laws, as long as they come in a form of protection against pointless discrimination. Once the condition in question starts to influence actual performance and/or company profit, I think that's a legitimate concern, not discrimination. If an essential part of the company work is completed on Saturdays and can't be moved to any other day of the week, this company shouldn't be forced by "anti-discrimination laws" to hire Orthodox Jews. If the job requires certain physical capabilities, people with physical limitations who can't do it without excessive help aren't supposed to be pushed in. And so on and so forth.
Now, to the actual question of pumping rooms. Of course, if a nursing mother must go back to work, it's wonderful if she can continue breastfeeding her child. But is pumping really a solution for everyone? Is it even for most?
The following statement really grates on my nerves:
"The notion that if you have a baby or are nursing you should stay at home -- it's just a historical notion these days."
The idea of having your cake and eating it too is part of dangerous, misleading, elusive rhetoric promoted by feminism. This is just one example of it. Yes, there probably are women out there who work outside the home full-time and succeeded in never giving formula to their babies, and that's wonderful, when there is no choice for a woman but to go out to work. But the home environment is certainly more conductive to breastfeeding than being apart from the baby for many hours a day.
Not all of us have equal milk supply or equal milk storage capacity. Some of us have extra and can pump plenty, some of us can't. Personally, I can tell I never managed to obtain any significant amount of milk using a pump. On the rare occasions I needed pumped milk, I had to store up in advance by having my baby nurse on one side and pumping on the other side when I felt letdown. The delicate combination of hormones released by the nursing mother while holding her baby to her breast, hormones that promote milk production and release, does not work the same way with a breast pump.
There was also a time when I had to nurse every hour to perk up my supply. It would not, of course, have been possible if I spent any significant amount of time outside the home. So I don't feel at all happy about statements that say, "Women who work outside the home can always continue to provide all the breast milk their babies need if they just pump." It's not as simple as that.
Of course, nursing is just the tip of the iceberg. The entire trend to create a "family friendly working environment" is an illusion. No occupation that takes a mother away from her young children for many hours a day is truly family friendly.