Paid family leave has finally made it into the national conversation (well, at least with one of our 2016 candidates, but we won’t name names) and we’re thrilled. It’s about time our workplace policies and spaces reflect the everyday realities of working families.
Here in our own state of Vermont, co-founder and CEO Sascha recently had the opportunity to join Vermont Main Street Alliance and other advocates in Montpelier to support the proposed statewide Paid Family and Medical Leave insurance program. Paid family leave is near and dear to our Mamava hearts as we seek to transform cultural perceptions of breastfeeding to ensure that all women, regardless of their circumstances, have the support they need to breastfeed if and where they choose.
Without paid leave or workplace spaces to pump, many moms can’t continue breastfeeding. In fact, the CDC reports that only 60% of women are able to meet their breastfeeding goals. According to research just published in Maternal & Child Nutrition, current rates of breastfeeding in the U.S. fall far short of the medical recommendation that mothers exclusively breastfeed for the first six months.
Not to get too scientific here, but the implications of “suboptimal” breastfeeding rates in the U.S. are enormous for everyone involved: for babies, mothers, working families and for our national health. Breastfeeding isn’t just a children’s health issue--it’s also a women’s health issue:
For every 597 women who optimally breastfeed, one maternal or child death is prevented. Policies to increase optimal breastfeeding could result in substantial public health gains. Breastfeeding has a larger impact on women's health than previously appreciated.
Supporting breastfeeding mamas is a win-win-win: healthier babies, better long-term health for women, and reduced healthcare costs for our society at large. Paid leave and family-friendly policies are an important first step! We’re supporting the Paid Family and Medical Leave insurance program here in the Green Mountain State, but also hope to see this topic gain traction with the next president and that #WorkingMamas won’t have to choose between their families and their financial wellbeing anymore.
How does your workplace support you as a pumping mama? We’d love to hear from you!