men-breastfeed.jpgI used to work for an editor who would conduct editorial meetings in the middle of the newsroom, and while reporters and other editors were watching — men and women — he’d rub and adjust his penis often in plain sight.

I thought of this when I got a survey this morning about how women are embarrassed to use breast pumps at work.

It’s hard to blame the system for the lack of advancement by women in Corporate America and the workplace at large when we gals are our own worst enemies. If men were able to breast feed they’d be doing it out in the open while on the phone, holding meetings, and even at ball games. You know it’s true. Why are women so ashamed to do something so natural?

The embarrassed-of-your-own-breastfeeding study was conducted by The Philips Center for Health and Well-being, which found that:

Despite widespread belief that breastfeeding is beneficial with 95 percent of American women doing it, nearly 60 percent of them say that they are embarrassed to do it in public and over half said that they were embarrassed to use breast pumps while at work.

Why are women so embarrassed? “That’s the big societal question,” said Philips health and wellness expert Katy Hartley. “Breastfeeding in the workplace is still an embarrassment for women.”

And it’s particularly embarrassing for we uptight Americans. Even though women in the U.S. feel the most supported by their employers to breastfeed, they are among the most ashamed to do so. Women in Egypt and South Africa feel the least supported but less than 40 percent felt embarrassed to pump at work.

Despite feeling supported at work, there are many women in the United States who don’t feel that way, especially those in low-income jobs. In addition to lack of support, many working moms find it challenging to continue to breastfeed when they return to work because their bosses don’t feel obligated to give them breaks and there are few if any good locations for them to express milk during the workday.

But that’s all expected to change thanks to a little-known provision in the still-controversial health care bill signed into law by President Barack Obama. Section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Health Care Reform, requires that employers provide reasonable breastfeeding breaks and private locations at work so women can breastfeed.

“This is a huge step for women’s equality,” said Portia Wu, vice president for the National Partnership for Women & Families.

“It’s really really important in this economy because a lot of women want to go back to work, or have to go back to work right away because they don’t have paid leave or maternity leave,” she said. “Having something like this allows women to keep breastfeeding. The workplace is catching up with the reality of women’s lives.”

Amen sista! The workplace has not caught up with so many working woman realities, but nothing will truly change unless women stop being patsies and stop caring what other think, especially when it comes to nurturing the generations to come.

Are you, or were you, embarrassed to breastfeed at work? Why?

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