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Breastfeeding Will Cost Jobs?

Earlier this week, a story came out that Staples Co-Founder Tom Stemberg states that allowing employees to breastfeed on site will cost jobs. He is a supporter of Republican candidates, such as Mitt Romney, and is speaking against the provision in Obama’s Affordable Care Act that requires companies to make reasonable accommodations for breastfeeding mothers.

 Those reasonable accommodations are essentially that women have a place for women to sit, where they can’t be seen, a room that is other than a bathroom, and reasonable breaks to breastfeed or pump. It doesn’t have to be a dedicated breastfeeding room, just one that she can use. Yet, Tom Stemberg states that stores and businesses do not and should not have to set up “lactation chambers”.  He is just so far off base.

First of all, a room in which a woman is free from intrusion is hardly a lactation chamber. Also, what exactly would a lactation chamber look like? Decorated with breast pumps?

This is just another way for Americans do not value women, particularly women in the workplace. Women have children, get a whole whopping 12 weeks of maternity leave,  if lucky and it will likely be partially unpaid, and then they try to continue breastfeeding but workplaces often put obstacles in their way.  

While I tend to be fairly neutral on the subject of breastfeeding, it is true that it is the healthiest option available. The fact that the policy makers in the United States make this so difficult for women to pump or breastfeed at work just shows how much health is a priority. Kudos to President Obama for making this part of the Affordable Care Act.