Working and breastfeeding is hard. Studies say support from coworkers is key to success.

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.

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.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
True

Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

Keep Reading Show less
Images via Canva and Unsplash

If there's one thing that everyone can agree on, it's that being in a pandemic sucks.

However, we seem to be on different pages as to what sucks most about it. Many of us are struggling with being separated from our friends and loved ones for so long. Some of us have lost friends and family to the virus, while others are dealing with ongoing health effects of their own illness. Millions are struggling with job loss and financial stress due to businesses being closed. Parents are drowning, dealing with their kids' online schooling and lack of in-person social interactions on top of their own work logistics. Most of us hate wearing masks (even if we do so diligently), and the vast majority of us are just tired of having to think about and deal with everything the pandemic entails.

Much has been made of the mental health impact of the pandemic, which is a good thing. We need to have more open conversations about mental health in general, and with everything so upside down, it's more important now than ever. However, it feels like pandemic mental health conversations have been dominated by people who want to justify anti-lockdown arguments. "We can't let the cure be worse than the disease," people say. Kids' mental health is cited as a reason to open schools, the mental health challenges of financial despair as a reason to keep businesses open, and the mental health impact of social isolation as a reason to ditch social distancing measures.

It's not that those mental health challenges aren't real. They most definitely are. But when we focus exclusively on the mental health impact of lockdowns, we miss the fact that there are also significant mental health struggles on the other side of those arguments.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

Keep Reading Show less
True
Gates Foundation

Once upon a time, a scientist named Dr. Andrew Wakefield published in the medical journal The Lancet that he had discovered a link between autism and vaccines.

After years of controversy and making parents mistrust vaccines, along with collecting $674,000 from lawyers who would benefit from suing vaccine makers, it was discovered he had made the whole thing up. The Lancet publicly apologized and reported that further investigation led to the discovery that he had fabricated everything.

Keep Reading Show less
via Budweiser

Budweiser beer, and its low-calorie counterpart, Bud Light, have created some of the most memorable Super Bowl commercials of the past 37 years.

There were the Clydesdales playing football and the poor lost puppy who found its way home because of the helpful horses. Then there were the funny frogs who repeated the brand name, "Bud," "Weis," "Er."

We can't forget the "Wassup?!" ad that premiered in December 1999, spawning the most obnoxious catchphrase of the new millennium.

Keep Reading Show less