Is the Breast Better?

Advocates of breast-feeding agree that much more needs to be done to encourage companies to make it easier on nursing mothers. Sixty percent of mothers with small children are in the work force. Companies are only required to give 12 weeks of maternity leave, and just a third provide rooms for moms to nurse or pump in.

Can Mothers Ever Win

Spangler said it's the mothers' responsibility to initiate changes at the workplace to make breast-feeding easier for them. "You need to go to your employer early in your pregnancy. You need to say to them, 'Let's talk about what kind of accommodation we can make so that I don't have to trade off breast-feeding my child for continuing to provide you with the work services that you're accustomed to receiving."

But just how easy is it for women to talk to their employers about breast-feeding? Spangler said she hears from mothers every day who speak to their employers about this issue.

Public Tolerance to Breast-Feeding

Critics said that although the government ad campaign succeeds in promoting breast-feeding, it fails to address the negative reactions many nursing mothers receive when they breast-feed in public.

Melissa Lader, a mother who wanted to breast-feed but couldn't, said, "If they were to have an ad of a woman actually breast-feeding, I think there would have been a lot of uproar in a different way, saying why are you showing that publicly?"

After all, this is a country that came to a standstill when Janet Jackson's breast was exposed for a second on national television. Is it any wonder nursing women are experiencing a lot of hostility or discomfort when they nurse their babies and expose their breast in a public place?

Spangler cited new legislation on breast-feeding that has passed in some states that gives a mother the right to breast-feed wherever she has the right to be. "Now that the law is in place, we're challenging those mothers. Please, come out of the closet, come out of the bathroom, come out of the back room, and feel comfortable breast-feeding your babies."

Supporters of the government advertising campaign said it was designed simply to raise awareness, to encourage women to buck the national trend and start breast-feeding.

"We need to be clear about this -- that any amount of breast milk a baby gets is a gift," said Alison Walsh, a mother who chose to breast-feed. But Spitzer, who decided not to breast-feed, said that type of thinking makes her feel guilty. "Sitting next to you, being the person that bottle feeds, I almost feel as if you're saying I didn't give any gifts to my child."

Despite their differences, there is one thing all women agree on: that the government's ad campaign put the proverbial cart before the horse. A lot of laws and attitudes still need to change if breast-feeding is to make significant headway in the United States.

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