Burning 500 calories a day without any cardiovascular exercise? Sign me up!
Oh wait, you mean I have to go through childbirth and then breastfeed a baby? Damn it, New York State Department of Health. There you go burying the lede.Breastfeeding is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for the first year of a baby’s life. And breastfeeding (as you likely know, even if you are childless like me) can help a new mom lose the baby weight. I know a woman who was rather gung-ho about how she’d lose weight after pregnancy by nursing. And that’s fine — take our pluses where we can get them, right? I understand why this PSA, which I took to be a spoof on Weight Watchers or Slim Fast commercials, is trying to get women’s attention and reel them into breastfeeding through the weight-loss concept. That appeal seems kind of shallow to me; you’d think the health benefits for the baby would be enough. (Hopefully, I myself can eventually be persuaded.) But I guess whatever works.
Fortunately, the campaign has another PSA about the health benefits of breastfeeding, which is more along the lines of what I’d expect from a public service announcement:
These PSA announcements may be educational for new moms, but blogger Lauren Feeney at PBS.org had a thoughtful take on breastfeeding that can’t easily be summed up in a PSA: Even if a new mom does breastfeed her infant instead of use formula, the current way our society is set up does not make it easy on new mothers. She could want to breastfeed her baby for a variety of reasons — to pass her immunities along to the baby, to bond, to help lose her baby weight — but she will most likely have to return to work after only three weeks and then be required to pump her breast milk.
“[U]nder the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), women are guaranteed only 12 weeks off from work after the birth of a child, unpaid. Paid maternity leave is simply a benefit that some companies offer, not a right like it is in almost every other industrialized country (the one exception is Australia, where the mandated maternity leave is unpaid but lasts a full year as opposed to 12 weeks).
This means that if a new mother follows all the rules set forth by the powers that be, she’ll be pumping breast milk at work for up to nine months. As anyone who has tried it knows, this is not a reasonable proposition. Pumping is physically uncomfortable and incredibly time consuming. The new heath care bill stipulates that employers must provide a private space other than a bathroom for new mothers to pump milk, but that only applies to companies with 50 employees or more, and isn’t always practical. What if you’re a bus driver, or a real estate agent?”
According to Feeney, these PSA commercials are meant to be targeted at New York’s lowest-income women, who the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say are the least likely to breastfeed. While some of their disinclination to nurse may be cultural, I’d wager the mentality our country has toward women in the work force — especially mothers in the work force — isn’t making it easier, either. So it’s great to tell new moms the benefits of breastfeeding. But the plight of women who are working a job where they can’t even get paid maternity leave and therefore don’t stay home, and/or can’t easily pump at their job, is the bigger stinky diaper to change.