Stronger regulations to support ACA
The duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding across the U.S. has been severely stagnant for years. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 included a provision for employers to “provide workplace accommodations that enable employees who are breastfeeding to express their milk”. In addition, the ACA amended the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 by having employers provide reasonable, unpaid break time for a mother to express milk and a private place besides a restroom that is clean to express it. I have worked alongside many women who struggle to continue breastfeeding children while they return to full-time employment. I had one co-worker in Texas who had her husband bring the newborn to her place of employment just so she could nurse on her break-time. Not all women have such dedicated husbands or family in close proximity to offer such help. She would breastfeed on a couch in the mall. She had tried to pump in the bathroom however, she constantly found herself being interrupted by other co-workers or customer needs. So, she fortunately solved her own problem by eliminating pumping by breastfeeding her baby directly. If regulations were in place to enforce these Acts, the jewelry store where we were employed would have had a private room. Sometimes, in the early stages when she was able to pump, she would use cups of ice from the mall eatery to keep the milk cold until she or her husband were able to get it home to store it for future use. This is where a refrigerator would come in handy for employees to utilize at work. Not only breastfeeding employee’s benefit from such an amenity but the whole workforce could utilize it for lunches, drinks, medicine, etc. The general public as well as employers in the health industry public should encourage employers to provide secure, private places where women can pump their milk and store it for later use.
Stronger regulations are needed to support ACA. I am thankful the government has shown transparency of the benefits of breastfeeding by stating that mothers should breast-feed their babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics also tells us alongside many other organizations that breast milk reduces the prevalence, susceptibility, and severity of a wide range of illnesses such as diarrhea, respiratory & ear infections. The American Academy of Pediatrics also tells us that studies have proven that adults who were breast-fed are less apt to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, obesity, high cholesterol and asthma. Society as a whole is responsible for educating themselves and others about the benefits of breastfeeding. They are also responsible for reducing social stigmas that surround breastfeeding issues, especially when found in the workplace. The government and state legislation however, need to be more responsible for enforcing and adopting regulation which support Acts such as the Affordable Care Act, which in turn support the people starting at birth by supporting mothers who sacrifice so much to give the gift of breast milk.
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