I want to breastfeed my baby but I'll be going back to work soon and there's nowhere private there except a smelly bathroom, even if my boss would let my mom bring my son over during my shift. What should I do?
Torn in Talpa
Congratulations for choosing to breastfeed your baby boy.
Breastfed babies experience health benefits that last a lifetime, including lower rates of numerous infections, diabetes I and II, asthma, obesity, childhood leukemia, and SIDS. Breastfeeding mothers have lower rates of breast and ovarian cancer, postpartum depression, and diabetes.
Many mothers choose not to breastfeed, either due to lack of support, the sexualization of breasts in our culture, the stigma attached to breastfeeding in public, or the barriers posed by her workplace.
The business community has an important role to play in supporting mothers to breastfeed their babies. Breastfeeding in public is a right protected by law in New Mexico: NMSA 1978, Section 28-20-1, states that it is legal for a mother to “breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be present.”
If you had a private, comfortable spot where you could breastfeed or pump breast milk at work, you would be more likely to choose breastfeeding, a decision that would bring long-term cost savings for our society. Breastfeeding could make a big difference in keeping our health system solvent if enough women chose to do so.
Please talk to your employer about the law, and explain why breastfeeding is important. Bring this column!
The Northern New Mexico Birth Center and the Latch On Breastfeeding Coalition are working to make Taos a family friendly community where breastfeeding is championed by all. We invite businesses to become family friendly by hosting a life-sized, removable wall sticker of a breastfeeding mother for a few weeks (very demure images-no skin is showing!) and by choosing two other action items from the following list.
Family Friendly Businesses will receive a window decal alerting their customers and employees that breastfeeding is welcome. A press release this winter will list all participating businesses and help promote family friendly awareness in the Taos business community.
Ways to become a Family Friendly Business (choose two, or offer your own ideas):
Welcome breastfeeding mothers. Never ask them to leave, to move, or to cover up.
Provide a comfortable chair and free glass of water.
Allow employees to have their children visit the workplace (within reason and if safe).
Encourage and support employees to breastfeed.
Provide break time to employees to nurse if the baby can visit the workplace.
Provide time for employees to pump breast milk, a clean space with a lock, and refrigerator space to store milk.
Encourage pregnant employees to care for themselves well.
Install changing tables in your restrooms.
Provide a child play space in a corner with toys and books.
Host meetings of Café Con Leche, Taos’ monthly breastfeeding support group.
Create a written breastfeeding policy for your policies and procedures manual, and educate your employees about this policy.
Educate your employees about breastfeeding being protected by law in New Mexico.
Provide public education materials or displays for customers and employees.
Please contact the Northern NM Birth Center for more information or to become a designated Family Friendly Business, at (575) 758-1216.
The midwives at the Northern NM Birth Center spend a lot of time answering questions about pregnancy, birth, and babies. We want to share this information with the community. Please send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.