A friend posted an article about IBM shipping breastmilk home for employees.
I’m undecided as to whether this is good news or not. For sure, if it is a choice between pump and dump or the opportunity to ship breastmilk back to baby, then yes of course shipping it back is better. But this reminds me of an article I read recently about exclusively pumping being almost (but actually not quite) as good as latching. The article says that with breastpumps getting better and better these days, mothers feel it is ok to pump and feed even though with a bit more effort they could have latched more, and that results in the child missing out on intimacy with mum and other small benefits like lower risk of ear infection (I am probably misquoting, but my takeaway after reading the article was this). Again, here if the choice is between going over to formula because the mum has to work or just cannot latch, then of course we want great pumps that make EPing possible. The concern, however, is whether all these technology and services are actually making it easy (“enabling”) mothers to spend less time with their children and/or provide them with the other benefits of direct breastfeeding. Should companies, instead of thinking along the lines of “how can we allow women to work in as similar a way as possible as men have all along without having to feel guilty” instead really think along the lines of “how can we help the mother provide the best for their children while working”. I’m thinking allowing them to take a break from travel the first year or two of their children’s lives without penalising them. I’m thinking having creche at work and allowing mothers to go and breastfeed children at feeding times. I’m thinking allowing mothers the option of unpaid maternity leave. And there are many other things I have not thought of. Ultimately, all these initiatives and technology are good in that they provide a better option than the worst case scenario. But the alternative that they provide is not the ideal one from the child’s perspective. I am grateful for pumps and nursing rooms and breastmilk shipping service but I do hope that more employers can think along the lines of facilitating breastfeeding in as natural a way as possible.
What do you think? Am I asking too much?