Despite what some may think is a shift in attitude towards breastfeeding mothers, with more and more people not only accepting of public breastfeeding but encouraging of it, it seems that many people don't support actually providing safe and clean spaces to lactate in places of business.
Aeroflow Healthcare, a company that creates breast pumps, recently surveyed 1,048 adults living in the United States about their perception of public breastfeeding and pumping. Many would think that since it's 2019 people would be supportive of breastfeeding, but sadly the survey shows otherwise. Surprisingly, more women than men found public breastfeeding inappropriate. Despite making strides in the acceptance and normalization of public breastfeeding, 25% of women and 22% of men still felt that breastfeeding in public was inappropriate.
Twenty percent of men felt that public spaces shouldn't provide a separate breastfeeding area while thirty percent of women felt uncomfortable when seeing a woman breastfeeding in public. What's perhaps the most shocking revelation of the survey however is how many people who don't think employers need to provide a separate room for mothers to pump or breastfeed at work.
A shocking 41% of men stated that they didn't believe that employers should be required to provide a lactation room for employees who are pumping, while 23 % of women felt the same. With a virtually non-existent maternity leave plan for working women in the United States, many are forced to pump while at work should they choose to continue breastfeeding. Not providing a dedicated area to do so will limit many working mothers from being able to continue to breastfeed once they return to the workforce and basically signal an overall lack of support for all breastfeeding mothers.
"The survey results clearly show that despite breastfeeding advocacy and national campaigns designed to bring awareness to challenges new moms face in public as well as the workplace, significant advancements have yet to be made," the study states.
“It’s discouraging that new moms still do not have the broad support from both men and women in this country to breastfeed in a public setting,” said Jennifer Jordan, Aeroflow Healthcare Director of Mom and Baby. “These attitudes make it challenging for women to confidently return to work, run errands or visit a restaurant without the fear or anxiety of being shamed. Considering the health benefits to both mom and baby, breastfeeding and pumping should be strongly encouraged and normalized in all settings.”
“We hope this study raises awareness of the pressure and discomfort new moms endure when trying to feed their babies in public, and causes the population to develop an appreciation and sensitivity towards these women—being a mom is not easy and being surrounded by critics certainly does not help.”