Breastfeeding rights is a big topic with MomsRising members. In fact, as we were developing this blog to update our members and allies on the current status of breastfeeding legislation, the issue again came to the attention of the MomsRising team when several MomsRising members expressed concern that showing a photo which included babies with bottles in a recent Halloween email (http://www.momsrising.org/babyhalloween) undermined the promotion of breastfeeding.
As we as a Momsrising team deliberated about how to respond to this concern, many of us shared how breastfeeding our babies with bottles of pumped breast milk was essential after our return to the workplace. As we discussed our own experiences, the timing to review the work we've done on breastfeeding policy and rights on a blog with our members seemed right. We're proud of the work we've done on this issue. MomsRising has been very active in breastfeeding policy for, well, as long as we’ve been an organization.
Ultimately, here's how we responded to those who contacted us about their concern that a baby bottle was in the Halloween message we sent:
"Thanks for your feedback. MomsRising supports mothers in having the choice to breastfeed. We have made it a priority to fight for paid leave so that working mothers have the time to breastfeed after giving birth. We also support moms who want to continue to breastfeed if they return to the paid workforce by advocating that employers provide them with the time and space to pump their breastmilk while at work."
The roll of MomsRising is to ensure that moms have the protected right to breastfeed in a clean, safe environment should that be the choice she makes. That's why MomsRising members are fighting for every mom to have access to the time and space she needs to breastfeed if she so chooses. This year alone, we have been active on a number of breastfeeding rights bills, most recently with the Breastfeeding Promotion Act, sponsored by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), H.R. 2819/S. 1244. So far this session, we've generated more than 34,000 letters to Congress in support of this bill, and if you haven't already you can take action to tell your legislator to support the bill now. http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1768/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=27299
Additionally, MomsRising members have been pushing hard for the expansion of paid family leave to ensure all mothers have a chance to successfully start breastfeeding after the birth of their child.
So where are we at right now with breastfeeding policy? We're in a good position to make some positive changes for working moms who are continuing to breastfeed as they re-enter the workforce. Senator Merkley was successful in getting a provision in the Health, Education, Labor & Pension (HELP) committee version of the Senate healthcare bill that would allow break time and a place for women to express milk. This is a big step forward, and the Senator’s office is working hard to make sure that this measure is left in the final version of the healthcare reform package.
In addition to legislation moving through Congress, lots pf people are working to educate the public about our increasing understanding of just how important breastfeeding is to children’s health. For example, Dr. Melissa Bartick & Marsha Walker, RN blogged about the importance of having breastfeeding be a part of healthcare reform, click here to read more. http://www.momsrising.org/blog/why-breastfeeding-needs-to-be-part-of-health-care-reform/.
While healthcare reform is center stage right now, it's very important for advocates to continue to show their support for the Breastfeeding Promotion Act bill and to let Congress know that it's a priority for women and families. We’ve got to keep the pressure on!
Stay tuned as we continue to push for this, and other family-friendly policies. Sign up today, http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1768/t/1546/questionnaire.jsp?questionnaire_KEY=816.