Breastfeeding rooms hidden in health care law

With her 5-week-old daughter crying in a bathroom at Nordstrom, and not knowing how to get the baby to latch on to her breast, Garima Nahar found herself surrounded by other women. Some offered tips, but one woman told the new mother to cover up or turn the other way.

“I had to kind of hide my tears and just be brave in front of her, because, you know what, ‘I have a crying baby and I don’t want to deal with you right now,’ ” said Nahar, a software manager in Chicago, Illinois.

Women across America have felt uncomfortable in public situations when breastfeeding their children. Sarah Hood of Fayetteville, Arkansas, who works in advertising, got stares when breastfeeding her son in the open.

Working mothers like Nahar and Hood have had to carefully tailor their schedules so that they can pump milk in the middle of the day, and avoid stares when they put bottles in the communal refrigerators. Some have to use a bathroom stall to pump milk, as there is no other space available.

Nursing mothers will now get additional support, thanks to page 1239 of the health care bill that President Obama recently signed into law. It requires employers to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” Only companies with less than 50 employees can claim it’s an undue hardship…

A recent study in the journal Pediatrics showed breastfeeding a child for the first six months of life would save nearly 1,000 lives and billions of dollars each year. That’s because breastfeeding reduces the risk of certain illnesses such as pneumonia, according to the study. Much of the cost comes from excess premature deaths, the study authors said.

Part of the question takes us back to what bloody century does our nation belong to? Not the part that studies and learns, not the part that marches towards health and happiness? It seems to be the loudmouthed crowd that Congress seems to listen to at least as much as the lobbyists paying their country club bar bill.

RTFA. It’s long and useful. It’s amazing that this is a tougher question to deal with in the 21st Century than the centuries which felt women shouldn’t have the right to vote or equal opportunity at a job.

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