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Breastfeeding can be a challenge all on its own. What happens when you add working to the mix?

Compared with the rest of the industrialized world (and much of the rest of the world, actually), the U.S. makes working parenthood difficult. As the only developed nation with no guaranteed paid family leave, many new parents find themselves having to return to work within a handful of weeks after having a baby.

[rebelmouse-image 19346022 dam="1" original_size="1796x1478" caption="Image by The DataFace, LLC." expand=1]Image by The DataFace, LLC.


And when you're a breastfeeding parent, that also means having to figure out how to pump breastmilk while balancing job duties. Sounds simple enough — if you've never pumped before. At best, it's a lot of work and not the most fun way to spend a break. At worst, an employer who is exempt from the federal requirements to provide time and space to breastfeed can make it darn near impossible to pump at the office. Even with time and space, some are never are able to pump efficiently.

For many, breastfeeding and working is doable, but difficult. But there's one thing that is proven to make it easier.

When coworkers are supportive, people have greater success with breastfeeding while working.

According to researchers at Michigan State and Texas Christian University, support from colleagues is a major factor in parents feeling confident that they can continue breastfeeding. In fact, surprisingly, coworker support has an even stronger effect than the support of family and friends.

One of the researchers' studies found that around 25% of participants decided to breastfeed while working because their employers created a breastfeeding-friendly environment. And about 15% said that direct support and motivation from supervisors and coworkers inspired them to keep breastfeeding after going back to work.

The study data showed that simply going back to work was enough to make many folks decide to stop breastfeeding, but those who chose to continue cited colleague support as a primary factor.

"In order to empower women to reach their goals and to continue breastfeeding, it's critical to motivate all co-workers by offering verbal encouragement and practical help," said Joanne Goldbort, an assistant professor in the College of Nursing at MSU, who collaborated in the study. That means accepting that breastfeeders will need extra "breaks," encouraging and supporting them in taking those breaks, and providing a clean, quiet, private space for them to pump.

We've seen progress in the past decade, from laws supporting breastfeeders to better breast pumps.

Thanks to provisions of the Affordable Care Act, federal law mandates that employers provide time and a clean place to pump — a place that is not a bathroom. Not all employers are bound by that law, but it's a good start. And recently, the final two states passed laws protecting the right to breastfeed in public anywhere in the U.S.

In addition, technology keeps getting better and better. Those of us who breastfed a decade or two ago had no choice but to use pumps that were basically the human equivalent of a commercial milking machine. While they got the job done, they were cumbersome, uncomfortable, loud, and not particularly dignified.

Now there are pumps that you can wear inside a bra, with no tubes, no electrical hookups, and no bottles connected. I recently found out about this Willow breast pump and was blown away by how much better it is than what I had available when my kids were babies. While on the pricey side, it's whisper-quiet and can be totally hidden inside your clothing, so you could pump while working and no one would ever know. Mind. Blown.

Willow Testimonial Mashup

Chances are, you’ve heard the buzz about Willow. Now watch what women are saying about their personal experiences with it and how it’s a must-have and a game changer. www.willowpump.com

Posted by Willow Pump on Sunday, July 1, 2018

With more and more working parents in the picture, we have to be creative and flexible when it comes to balancing breastfeeding with work.

There is a lot more America could do to help make breastfeeding easier for working parents. But until we catch up with the rest of the world in providing guaranteed paid leave, we'll have to approach breastfeeding and working as individual employees, employers, and coworkers.

The more we can voice our support for breastfeeding and make it easier for folks who work to get the time, space, and support they need to pump, the happier and healthier our communities will be.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Democracy

Appalachian mom's speech on Kentucky's proposed abortion ban is a must-hear for everyone

Danielle Kirk is speaking up for those often overlooked in our cultural debates.

Canva, courtesy of Danielle Kirk

Appalachian mom gives passionate speech.

Many people felt a gut punch when the Supreme Court issued its decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the decades-old Roe v. Wade decision that protected a woman's right to an abortion. However, for some this was a call to action.

Danielle Kirk, 27, a mom of two and an activist on TikTok, used her voice in an attempt to educate the people that make decisions in her small town. Kirk lives in Kentucky where a trigger law came into effect immediately after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Being a former foster child, she knew she had to say something. Kirk spoke exclusively with Upworthy about why she decided to speak up.

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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