Was the backlash and the over the top response to the recent TIME magazine cover and the military moms breastfeeding support group about the displaying of the activity or the act itself?
My gut says...it was the public display of what many view to be a personal act rather than an all out hate-a-thon on the act itself.
Either way, I am thrilled with the press, passion and discussion that's being generated as a result.
A few weeks ago at the SHRM 2012 national conference, I had a great conversation with the fabulous women at Every Mother. This organization provides support for businesses in complying with the Federal law that requires employers accommodate breastfeeding mothers with the time and a private place to allow them to express their milk.
The biggest hurdle Every Mother, and other organizations like theirs, face is not just the "sexualization" of breasts factor; it's the “creeped out” factor a lot of people have about body fluids.
Generally speaking if it comes out of you...people have a desire for you to keep you and your activities associated with that process private.
Luckily, in this case moms aren't looking for an audience, just a clean, safe place they can fulfill a necessary activity.
As a mom who previously breastfed two hungry little gaffers of her own, I understand it from both sides.
Seeing a woman breastfeed doesn't phase me in the least. However, I don't have any need to be exposed to or involved in someone else's breastfeeding. From an HR perspective I can understand the need (and legal obligation) to put some structure around resources and support in this area both for the privacy, safety and comfort of moms at work, and for the comfort of other employees as well.
I would suggest that if a good workplace lactation programs is put in place to support breastfeeding, and managers are educated on how to be supportive of nursing moms, most people in the workplace wouldn't even notice, never mind be inconvenienced by a coworker nursing.
It's simple really, a safe place with some privacy, a separate fridge for storing of breast milk, a little policy, personnel support and training, and eh voila.
Realistically, when you think about it, in an eight hour day every worker is entitled legally to a lunch break and two 15 minute breaks. A breastfeeding mom is no more likely to take more time in an average day to complete this necessary function than workers who smoke or indulge in regular coffee breaks.
Hats off to all the nursing moms out there and the forward thinking employers who support them!
What are your thoughts? How is your organization supporting new moms?
Related Post: Pregnant with Possibility. Responding to the yahoos (a blog post about pregnancy, work and Yahoo!'s new CEO Marissa Mayer).
Post written by HRmarketer / SocialEars staff member Debbie Imboden
Labels: Debbie Imboden, Employee Benefits, nursing homes, workplace lactation