Support Establishing Lactation Rooms in Public Places: Would You Eat in the Bathroom?

BY: - 26 Sep '11 | Parenting

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By Sojourner Marable Grimmett

One of the greatest struggles for breastfeeding mothers is to have our voices heard and accommodations met in order to express milk and feed our children in public places. Women have lobbied and fought for years to establish lactation rooms in their places of employment and public facilities. Only recently have states begun to pass laws that help ensure that mothers have a private place to nurse their children.

On March 30, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that mandates an employer with more than 50 workers to provide a private room (not a restroom) in which their female employees and customers can express breast milk for their children as needed. Today there are more than 83 million mothers in the United States – roughly 61% of them work. As the socio-economic structure continues to change, more women are returning to work immediately after maternity leave. While some women are able to transition smoothly back into the workplace, others need assistance with juggling work and newly-minted motherhood.

The transition back to work is sometimes difficult and can be a bit challenging for nursing mothers who would like to continue to breastfeed. The lack of private spaces to pump at work makes this transition even more daunting; some mothers decide to stop breastfeeding their children all together. I was one of those mothers. With our first son, my only option at work was to pump in the public restroom. I slowly whined him then eventually stopped breastfeeding due to the inconvenience and lack of privacy. The painful reality of allowing breast milk to “dry up” when women are not ready to stop nursing can cause tremendous grief, depression, and disappointment for some mothers’ effort to provide the most important nutrients to their newborn. Also, breastfeeding during the first 12 months of an infant’s life can provide tremendous health benefits for the child, even long-term.   A recent report from the CDC shared that breastfeeding helps to prevent childhood obesity.

After giving birth to our second son, a former colleague and I spoke up and assisted our employer in establishing a permanent lactation room on site. We provided a safe and designated place for mothers to pump and feed their children. This allowed a smoother transition for working mothers, and enabled them to continue to provide milk for their children after returning back to work. I was pleased to have the ability to nurse our second son for nearly 15 months.

Employers come up with many excuses about why they do not have private rooms designated for nursing mothers. These range from costs to space availability. Companies would benefit from establishing lactation rooms on site, because breastfeeding mothers will have support transitioning back to work, look favorable to customers, and can be a good recruitment tool for employees.

Unfortunately, these challenges are widespread. Living in Atlanta, I was shocked to find out that the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (HJAIA), does not have designated lactation rooms for employees or customers. They ask mothers to feed their children in the restroom or to call in advance to arrange a private room to pump or breastfeed. There is no information or timeline posted on their website when or if lactation rooms will be established.

Breastfeeding in the bathroom is synonymous to having your child literally “eat” in the restroom. Let’s face it – eating in the bathroom is gross! You wouldn’t eat in the bathroom, so why would you expect your baby to eat there?  Holding a child up or squatting on a public toilet to feed among unpleasant smells is inhumane. Oftentimes, in order for ones milk “to let down” mothers need a pleasant, clean, and sanitary environment to express milk. Breastfeeding mothers deserve safe, secure, and comfortable places to pump and nurse their children.

To address these issues and to provide a resource for those who would like to establish lactation rooms at the public places they frequent most, I have launched a Lactation Room support campaign, Table For Two. The campaign’s first initiative to bring lactation rooms to HJAIA. It’s time to establish designated and convenient lactation rooms at Atlanta’s airport, as well as companies, and organizations across the country. Would you eat in the bathroom? Of course not, because eating in the restroom is gross. Ask officials at the world’s busiest airport to support their employees and customers.

To support this cause and for more information, please visit www.supporttablefortwo.org. You may also join the campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

Sojourner Marable Grimmett is an Atlanta-based author who is recognized for writing about the joys and challenges of being a “stay-at-work” mom and connects with moms, both new and experienced, who have the responsibility of raising a family and maintaining a full-time job. Sojourner has been featured in FitPregnancy, iVillage, Southwest Parenting Magazine, BlackCelebKids.com, MyAtlantaMoms.com, WhatToExpect.com, Fox News, and CNN. She is married to her college sweetheart, Roland and they have two young sons, Roland Jay and Joshua. Visit her blog sojournermarablegrimmett.blogspot.com follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook.

Featured on YourBlackWorld.com and MyAtlantaMoms.com.

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K. Kheir Photography

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7 WordPress comments on “Support Establishing Lactation Rooms in Public Places: Would You Eat in the Bathroom?

  1. Jaelma

    Thanks so much for the information.   Yes this   can be so difficult for mothers going back to work -especially with their first child.     Breast feeding is a wonderful experience but can be overwhelming for new Mom – There may not be anyone to tell them to ask about the development of a lactation room.     The lactation support program we had locally lost funding….so sad.   This is a wonderful and empowering movement   you have established for the community –  I look forward to hearing more and helping where I can1   peace and blessing – Jaelma   http://www.kiarablu.com

  2. Pingback: Table for Two » Press

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The Parenting Partnership: Does Playing Good Cop, Bad Cop Work?

BY: - 26 Sep '11 | Parenting

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Whether you are single or married, if you’re a parent there is one other parent in this world you must build a healthy relationship with. It isn’t always easy, even when you are married, to be on the exact same page all the time.

My husband and I have slightly different parenting styles, and I must admit his way has garnered the most success. I would sometimes cringe at the tough love I felt he displayed with our children. I discovered that the reprimanding and the lengthy conversations along with the action items is just what they needed.

My husband takes his parenting responsibility seriously as I do; my approach leaned a little more toward trusting they would get it. Meaning I was a little more relaxed on how I disciplined them. Thinking a quick pep talk would do the trick without the necessary follow up resulted in plenty of repeat behavior. Children might respond to that positively at that moment, but in my experience it just doesn’t seem to register. And unfortunately they have come to expect that from me.

While I used to think being labeled the “fun or cool parent” was not such a bad thing, I am now recreating my mommy role into one that challenges my children even more. I found myself longing to be that tough parent, just like my husband.

Partnering with him and standing by those tough parenting decisions even when at times they feel a little uncomfortable is what is truly best for their growth. I know it will have a powerful impact on the women they will become. I am now following the wonderful example he is setting.

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Tiya Cunningham-Sumter wrote 630 articles on this blog.

Tiya Cunningham-Sumter is a Certified Life & Relationship Coach, founder of Life Editing and Author of A Conversation Piece: 32 Bold Relationship Lessons for Discussing Marriage, Sex and Conflict Available on Amazon . She helps couples and individuals rewrite their life to reflect their dreams. Tiya has been featured in Essence and Ebony Magazines, and named one of the top blogs to read now by Refinery29. She resides in Chicago with her husband and two daughters. To find out more about Tiya, and her coaching, visit www.thelifeandlovecoach.com and www.theboldersister.com.

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