It's no secret that we need people to come forward in support of breastfeeding moms—and National Breastfeeding Month is the perfect time to do so. MomsRising, an organization focused on improving the lives of moms, honored the month—and capped off World Breastfeeding Week—on August 7 with a gathering to fight for improved conditions for mothers who nurse by making lawmakers aware of what breastfeeding moms face in the workforce.
Members of MomsRising, along with their kids (and strollers!), hand-delivered booklets containing personal stories and photos of breastfeeding moms to US Senate members in hopes that this might usher in better policies. More specifically, the members advocated for better pumping provisions for working mamas. By showing officials how hard day-to-day life can be for moms, particularly those who breastfeed, members hope to demonstrate the need for change.
MomsRising partnered up with ad agency WONGDOODY for a social campaign tied to this effort: Moms can post to platforms with the hashtag #IPumpedHere to illustrate the lack of sanitary, private pumping spaces for breastfeeding moms while they're out in the world. They've compiled some stories moms shared to the campaign for distribution.
"[We] launched the IPumpedHere campaign because we know that adequate pumping spaces are one of the big barriers that women face in terms of meeting their breastfeeding goals. The other big barrier is a lack of paid family and medical leave—many, many women need to go back to work simply because they cannot afford the time away and that impacts their ability to establish and maintain their breastfeeding routines. Once they get to work, a lot of women aren’t provided with the adequate pumping space they need or the storage space they need to pump and store their breast milk," Ruth Martin, the national director of Workplace Justice Campaigns at MomsRising, told Parents.
This is an issue that needs to be addressed. Many working moms don't have it easy when they return to the workplace. According to WomensHealth.gov, women who work eight-hour shifts will need to pump two to three times a day, and while it only takes about 15 to 20 minutes to expel milk, we need to factor in the time it takes mothers to get to and from a pump room and get settled in. In light of that, a standard 15-minute pumping break may not be enough for moms—especially those who have to seek out private places to pump each time. The bottom line? We need more people to understand the challenges breastfeeding moms face to better accommodate them.
That's the goal of MomsRising's efforts. The members didn't just deliver letters, though—they also distributed milk storage bags filled with gold-wrapped Hershey's kisses to represent breast milk (which is also known as "liquid gold!").
The event took place in DC, but mamas and breastfeeding advocates everywhere can join the movement and follow along right here. And, if you're forced to pump in a less-than-desirable place, add your voice to the conversation by posting with the hashtag #IPumpedHere on social media—the hashtag is still going strong, and MomsRising's team will continue to use submissions to fight for change.
The crazy conditions moms face when they attempt to maintain breastfeed practices have a serious implication—many moms quit nursing because it's simply too hard, and that can be prevented.
"IPumpedHere is really a 'laugh so you don’t cry' campaign that’s supposed to be a little bit lighthearted and also poke fun at something that’s a really serious topic," Martin said. "Poking fun at it makes it a lot more relatable…to members of Congress who have the power to make changes around the policies we need to make workplaces more effective for parents, which in turn boosts our economy as well. [We're] urging folks to take action so we can create the pumping rooms that breastfeeding moms deserve."