Is COVID-19 bringing breastfeeding out of the shadows?
Like the breastfeeding selfie, the breastfeeding Zoom could normalize the act and just maybe make it a bit easier for working mothers
Medela and Mamava recently teamed up to poll close to 1,500 moms about how this health crisis has impacted them. Almost half of moms expressed concern about the cleanliness and sanitation of the pumping space in their workplaces when they return to workspaces.
Boy oh boy, do I feel this. My office literally pulled the plug on all communal fridges and made this countrywide announcement with the justification that they were "limiting high-touch areas in the workplace”. This type of action is happening across industries and states, with a huge impact on pumping moms. My friends in tech, PR, healthcare, education, law, and finance are feeling the effects. And we've always been the lucky ones with the privilege of a fridge available in the workplace. There has never been a close-by fridge for the tens of thousands of moms in the gig-economy, food industry, cleaning services, real estate, postal services, first responders, military…the list goes on and on.
Often their only option was a big ol' cooler—either fabric or just big and dirty—filled with a ton of plastic surfaces that they attempted to clean before bringing all of this back into our baby’s home. It has been overwhelming and unfair. All of these moms have deserved better and received no relief for so long. Now COVID is bringing it all to a head.
I'm proud of having invented Ceres Chill, a solution that is perfect for moms worried about the ever-changing workplaces we are navigating.
I loved the Vogue article about how COVID just might be the answer we've all been looking for to bring breastfeeding out of dark closets and into the workplace. The author notes from her interviews: “This gets at one of the potential, inadvertent benefits of our punishing social experiment in juggling work and childcare. Like the breastfeeding selfie, the breastfeeding Zoom could normalize the act and just maybe make it a bit easier for working mothers.”
So many aspects of our lives are unknown right now. There are days when it can be paralyzing but, as parents, we have no time to deer-in-headlights this crisis. We know we must keep going forward, doing the best we can for our families.
In that spirit, I continue to breastfeed long after I thought I would be done. Breastmilk is miraculous in many ways and even though it is not a cure-all, it felt right to do the one thing I could do to safeguard the health of the most vulnerable in our family during a time of global health crisis.
Suddenly, everyone, even in male-dominated industries, is experiencing Zoom calls where family members in the background might be wearing bathrobes or worse—and calls that have a background soundtrack of a breastpump or a baby nursing away. Men with breastfeeding partners have a new view of what these partners and their breastfeeding colleagues go through. There is a growing understanding that there need to be fewer hoops, less shaming, and more support.
- We'll be able to breastfeed longer because we'll be around our children more.
- As fewer of us hide in closets and more of the workforce is exposed to respected, breastfeeding colleagues, moms will become even more successful in meeting their breastfeeding goals.
- Our communities will become more supportive of breastfeeding because there will be greater awareness (It's normal! It prevents disease and keeps moms and children healthier!)
- We'll still have to travel away from home, and will need a reliable way to keep milk safe.
Let’s do this! Let’s maximize this moment and help everyone rethink what workplaces should look like and how better to acknowledge and support breastfeeding people.
What do YOU think?