It’s 2021; Let’s Talk About Breastfeeding

(Source) It’s no secret that women’s participation in the labor force increased dramatically in the second half of the twentieth century. In the past five years, women have held more than half of all management occupations and earn more than half of all bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. Perhaps most notably, a record number of women now serve in the 117th Congress—still only about a quarter of all members, but a record nonetheless. So, with women holding fast at about 47% of the labor force in 2020[1] and occupying more positions of power than ever before, why do some women still struggle to breastfeed successfully, especially while working? Let’s start with a quick primer on breastfeeding to get everyone up to speed. Breastfeeding promotes positive outcomes in children and mothers. Breastfed babies are better protected from diarrhea, pneumonia, and certain      infections, less likely to develop asthma, at a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (“SIDS”), and less likely to become obese. Mothers who breastfeed also have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers and experience more rapid weight loss after birth. The World Health Organization (“WHO”) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (“AAP”) both recommend exclusive breastfeeding for [read more]

Privilege, Progress, and Paid Family Leave

(Source) The United States has an embarrassing—and for many families, financially, physically, and emotionally devastating—paid family leave problem. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States ranks last in government-mandated paid leave for new parents. Among forty-one nations, the U.S. fails to mandate paid leave for new parents. Individual states have failed to pick up the slack. Currently, California, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington, and Washington, D.C. are the only states which provide paid family leave to eligible workers. Washington and Washington D.C.’s programs began just last year. Two more states—Connecticut, and Oregon—have programs slated to begin in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Colorado voted this past November on Proposition 118 to determine whether the state would implement its own paid family and medical leave program. Even though Colorado’s Proposition 118 passed, only nine states (plus the District of Columbia) have made meaningful steps toward a paid family leave mandate. The need for government-mandated leave becomes evident with a quick look at private sector leave statistics. In 2019, 18% of private sector employees had access to paid family leave through their employer and 42% of private sector employees had access to fully or partly [read more]