Breastfeeding

The Illusion of Choice

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debateResearch

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background Breastfeeding is frequently described as a woman's decision, yet this choice is often illusionary owing to suboptimal social and structural supports. Despite passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010) that requires all qualifying employers to provide mothers “reasonable” break time and a private, non-bathroom space to express breast milk, the majority of women in the United States still do not have access to both accommodations. The Problem At least three issues may be influencing this suboptimal implementation at workplaces: 1) federal law does not address lactation space functionality and accessibility, 2) federal law only protects a subset of employees, and 3) enforcement of the federal law requires women to file a complaint with the United States Department of Labor. Recommendations To address each of these issues, we recommend the following modifications to current law: 1) additional requirements surrounding lactation space and functionality, 2) mandated coverage of exempt employees, and 3) requirement that employers develop company-specific lactation policies. Conclusions If the goal is to give women a real choice of whether to continue breastfeeding after returning to work, we must provide the proper social and structural supports that will allow for a truly personal decision. No mother should have to choose between breastfeeding her child and earning a paycheck.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-482
Number of pages4
JournalWomen's Health Issues
Volume26
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016

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Breast Feeding
federal law
Lactation
functionality
employer
Mothers
employee
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Law Enforcement
Human Milk
complaint
Workplace
accommodation
workplace
coverage
act
labor
Law

Cite this

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title = "Breastfeeding: The Illusion of Choice",
abstract = "Background Breastfeeding is frequently described as a woman's decision, yet this choice is often illusionary owing to suboptimal social and structural supports. Despite passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010) that requires all qualifying employers to provide mothers “reasonable” break time and a private, non-bathroom space to express breast milk, the majority of women in the United States still do not have access to both accommodations. The Problem At least three issues may be influencing this suboptimal implementation at workplaces: 1) federal law does not address lactation space functionality and accessibility, 2) federal law only protects a subset of employees, and 3) enforcement of the federal law requires women to file a complaint with the United States Department of Labor. Recommendations To address each of these issues, we recommend the following modifications to current law: 1) additional requirements surrounding lactation space and functionality, 2) mandated coverage of exempt employees, and 3) requirement that employers develop company-specific lactation policies. Conclusions If the goal is to give women a real choice of whether to continue breastfeeding after returning to work, we must provide the proper social and structural supports that will allow for a truly personal decision. No mother should have to choose between breastfeeding her child and earning a paycheck.",
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Breastfeeding : The Illusion of Choice. / Dinour, Lauren; Bai, Yeon.

In: Women's Health Issues, Vol. 26, No. 5, 01.09.2016, p. 479-482.

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debateResearch

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T2 - The Illusion of Choice

AU - Dinour, Lauren

AU - Bai, Yeon

PY - 2016/9/1

Y1 - 2016/9/1

N2 - Background Breastfeeding is frequently described as a woman's decision, yet this choice is often illusionary owing to suboptimal social and structural supports. Despite passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010) that requires all qualifying employers to provide mothers “reasonable” break time and a private, non-bathroom space to express breast milk, the majority of women in the United States still do not have access to both accommodations. The Problem At least three issues may be influencing this suboptimal implementation at workplaces: 1) federal law does not address lactation space functionality and accessibility, 2) federal law only protects a subset of employees, and 3) enforcement of the federal law requires women to file a complaint with the United States Department of Labor. Recommendations To address each of these issues, we recommend the following modifications to current law: 1) additional requirements surrounding lactation space and functionality, 2) mandated coverage of exempt employees, and 3) requirement that employers develop company-specific lactation policies. Conclusions If the goal is to give women a real choice of whether to continue breastfeeding after returning to work, we must provide the proper social and structural supports that will allow for a truly personal decision. No mother should have to choose between breastfeeding her child and earning a paycheck.

AB - Background Breastfeeding is frequently described as a woman's decision, yet this choice is often illusionary owing to suboptimal social and structural supports. Despite passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010) that requires all qualifying employers to provide mothers “reasonable” break time and a private, non-bathroom space to express breast milk, the majority of women in the United States still do not have access to both accommodations. The Problem At least three issues may be influencing this suboptimal implementation at workplaces: 1) federal law does not address lactation space functionality and accessibility, 2) federal law only protects a subset of employees, and 3) enforcement of the federal law requires women to file a complaint with the United States Department of Labor. Recommendations To address each of these issues, we recommend the following modifications to current law: 1) additional requirements surrounding lactation space and functionality, 2) mandated coverage of exempt employees, and 3) requirement that employers develop company-specific lactation policies. Conclusions If the goal is to give women a real choice of whether to continue breastfeeding after returning to work, we must provide the proper social and structural supports that will allow for a truly personal decision. No mother should have to choose between breastfeeding her child and earning a paycheck.

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