Breastpumping. It’s one of those things that is seemingly nonexistent until it 100% consumes your life as you prepare to be away from your baby, or if your baby is unable to latch on correctly. Maybe not for mamas in the UK who get 40 weeks paid leave, or mamas who can stay home with their young’ns 24/7, but for the working mom who is committed to breastfeeding, breast pumping is a near and dear reality.
It’s the back tweaking reality of toting about a clunky breast pump along with a cooler bag should you not have an available refrigerator. It’s the reality of needing to express milk every 2-3 hours (at least in the beginning), no matter where you happen to be – at work, in a board meeting, on an airplane, in a car, or – for some of us – at the Oscars.
As things stand today, should a mom choose to formula feed, it’s an incredibly accessible choice as the global infant formula industry is a whopping $50 billion industry. There’s certainly no shortage of available formula. But what of the mom who chooses to breastfeed? The resources are few and far between. As a result, advocates all over the world have risen to support a movement: Lactivism.
Lactivism is a movement to advocate for breastfeeding support. It’s about the reality that breast is best, but what of the support to make it possible? It’s about the reality that despite the lean-in generation, we live in a country were 95% of Fortune 500 CEOs are male, and where the US is still one of the few countries left that offers no paid maternity leave.
As Julie Taylor, of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, states:
“The real problem is not the data or the advocates but that we as a society make it so hard for mothers to accomplish the medical community’s agreed-upon, evidence-based recommendations. Instead of critiquing unassailable facts, let’s use our collective wisdom and power to better support young families’ positive health choices at home, at work and at large.”
And that’s just what Lactivism aims to do. Step-by-step, we’re making progress and seeing support from both the men and women leaders of our country. President Obama has amended insurance coverage to provide breast pumps. Mark Zuckerberg provides his staff four months paid parental leave. Jessica Shortall has written a survival guide on how to pump while going back to work: Work.Pump.Repeat,Kate Frederick advocates everyday for greater breastfeeding legislation, and we at Mamava are getting women out of bathroom stalls and storage closets by providing intentional spaces for women to express breast milk.
Lactivism is about supporting women in their choice to breastfeed, and we at Mamava are proud to be a part of this movement with our lactation suites.
Our suites are not about hiding breastfeeding, but they’re about acknowledging the reality of it. The reality that breastfeeding isn’t always between a mother and her baby, but often a mother and her pump. The reality that let down doesn’t happen in stressful places. The reality that even for moms who are comfortable breastfeeding publicly, some babies are distracted feeders and won’t latch on in an environment as chaotic as an airport.
Mamavas exist to empower women in their choice. While on the inside our suites support moms physically, providing the space to breast pump or feed in privacy, on the outside we serve as a billboard calling and reminding the world that breastfeeding is happening, and it’s happening by way of pumping, and feeding infants in public, chaotic spaces. It’s a reminder that breastfeeding is a part of everyday life, happening everywhere. It’s a reminder that it’s time we rally to support the nursing mamas feeding the next generation.