For American-based alcoholic beverage companies, it’s the law that on their websites, they have to have a page or pop up that requires the website visitor to enter their birthdate (to show they are 21, even though we all know we could lie about it) to prove they are 21 before actually entering the site. Similarly, to visit an official infant formula website that is based in Australia, what I believe to be a mandatory popup appears on the page, informing you that breast milk is the best milk, nutritionally complete to aid in your baby’s health and growth, and formula should only be considered if breastfeeding is not possible due to health reasons. It also tells you of the risks of infant formula feeding and asks that you accept that you have read these warnings before entering the site.
Given that mothers, by law, are given a full year of maternity leave in Australia, I think it would be a safe assumption that breastfeeding is probably more supported by government, employers, and society in general in Australia. And as a result of that, I have a feeling that breastfeeding/pumping/lactation support is just better and easier to find there than in the U.S. The irony is that while in the U.S., doctors, nurses, and hospitals always do emphasize that “breast is best,” we don’t have anything in place to truly and fully support breastfeeding, whether that’s through family leave laws, comfortable nursing/pumping rooms, or even a social acceptance of nursing or pumping without a cover on in public. I’ve read too many stories of women getting shamed publicly for having their breasts out in public to feed their babies. I’ve never seen anyone pumping milk in public… except the one time I ran into my colleague pumping milk in the women’s room at work (and that’s hardly “public”). Plus, the number of conflicting messages and conclusions that these so-called lactation consultants come to in their evaluations of new moms is just ridiculous, not to mention the mom-blaming about poor milk supplies that aren’t even low milk supplies… They just weren’t pumping enough or nursing effectively to establish a good milk supply early on enough.
Nursing and pumping in public without a cover on should just be as normal as people sitting out and eating lunch and dinner. Isn’t that what we’re doing by nursing and pumping — feeding our children?? I’ve now pumped milk in Central Park, at a children’s birthday party, in the car, in a hotel lobby, and on our building’s roof, but I was always covered up in some way. I wish I could just forget my shawl and just be out in the open. After all, my nipples are not just erogenous regions of my body: they are the gateway to my baby’s food.