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I agree that privilege and status are a huge factor in breastfeeding rates -- and in fact, I don't take seriously any push to increase breastfeeding rates that doesn't also talk about paid maternity leave. However, it's not just privilege. Hispanic women breastfeed at a higher rate than white women (per CDC), and there is probably a lot we can learn from that.

(Also, I nursed both my kids in public, without a cover, and never had so much as a weird look in my direction.)

Lisa S.

You're right -- I just googled for Hispanic/Latina stats and found this cite (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6205a1.htm), and this one specifically calling out Mexican-American hispanic nursing trends (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db05.htm), because they're apparently outliers in an overall Hispanic trend?

I wonder what the x-factor is there? Are there a higher rate of Mexican-American women employed by relatives/in a family business where the kinship ties and overall culture allow for a more flexible environment conducive to pumping/nursing? Is is job-related at all?

I feel like this is a question the Freakonomics people would love.


Yeah, maternal age and type of employment are two factors that I'm curious about.


"Breastfeeding is free!" Yeah right. Only if my time is worth nothing.

It was a really sad day for me when I realized that I badly wanted to nurse exclusively and that I would not get the chance, due to going back to work at 8 weeks. Breast may be best, but continued employment is a necessity.

And nursing bras are fucking expensive.

Lisa S.

Liz, I'm sorry. That sucks.

Did you read the Hanna Rosin piece against nursing? (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/04/the-case-against-breast-feeding/307311/?single_page=true)

It is one of the few to draw the line between breastfeeding and the subtle way it devalues women's money-making work.


I work in a male-dominated skilled labor trade and I am honestly pretty worried about breastfeeding once I go back to work. I am "protected" by a union, but it represents very few women, and when facing my upcoming 2-year job placement (a godsend in a freelance industry) I was so worried that I would face discrimination for being a new mother that I did not even tell my placement office that I was pregnant - I just told them that had a "medical procedure" coming up in July and that it would have a significant recovery time so I would need to defer placement until I was "recovered." I've opted to continue freelancing or to just be unemployed until then.

But once I go back to work after the baby comes, I am extremely likely to be the only woman on the crew, and even more likely still to be the only young woman (ie of childbearing age). I am not entirely sure, but I may be the only lactating mother in the history of the local, really. Obviously everyone at my job placement site will know I have a baby, and there's nothing I can do about that, it is what it is. I invested $300 in what seems to be the fastest, easiest pump I can find, so that I may even have a chance of pumping on coffee breaks (those old favorite targets of anti-union advocates) or lunch breaks. If I'm lucky, the women's restroom will be accessible and have a stall that is comfortable (I have been to business meetings at major television studios where the women's restroom is locked and someone must be sent from the meeting to track down a key on request - even at the executive level, the presumption is male - so the restroom in a given venue being inaccessible is a legitimate concern). If not, I honestly may find myself sneaking off to the boiler room and leaning against the door to stop anyone else from coming in. Then I will probably find myself begging an aging house carpenter to let me borrow some of his precious mini-fridge real estate, for months on end. A big favor to ask of a good-ol-boy who probably still believes women "don't belong here," since the house crew is almost always made up of men in their 60s, who began their careers represented by a union that had no women at all in it.

And that is a good job! It comes with full benefits, vacation pay, a solid and livable hourly wage, collective bargaining power. It requires a level of knowledge and skill that, true, does not require a college degree, but that necessitates some real natural ability as well as time spent learning.

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