A Brazilian friend in upstate NY: breastfeeding for one year, working full time, pumping and storing her milk at work. She is my hero! She has 2 girls and one husband 😉 Her girls now go to school and after school day-care. When they all get home, she has to cook dinner, together with her husband. Housekeeper? Are you kidding me?! No! The middle class, in the States, can neither afford to pay for a helper nor can they afford mothers to take a longer than 2 or 3 month maternity leave. This is America, USA, this isn’t Brazil and your mother does not live round the corner.
Another Brazilian friend in upstate NY: Scientist, two girls, breastfed until her children were 3-months-old. Why not longer? Because she went on unpaid maternity leave for 3 months, nowhere to pump or store milk. This is America, this is The USA. Would the world benefit from having more female scientists? Of course! Is there support for them once they become mothers? Not really, not here.
And one more Brazilian friend, in the Silicon Valley: scientist, also working full time in a well known and reputable company. When back to work – less than 3 months after giving birth, like many of us, got upset with the conditions within which she had to pump and store her milk. No dedicated fridge or room. Her next door colleague could hear her ‘pumping’…talk about being at ease to ensure milk flow! One day a guy opens the fridge in their department and asks: What are those?! She responds:’ My milk.’ – Awkward moment. She decides to speak up and strikes! The CTO of her company, a female, who breastfed her 3 children, was not aware that in their Silicon Valley plant, working mothers did not have a breastfeeding room or a fridge. To cut a long story short, nowadays, all plants have breastfeeding facilities. Of course the whole process wasn’t that simple, but it was surely doable!
We should all speak up loud; but we are afraid, we want to keep our jobs. We actually need the income.
I want my girls to be free to choose their professions. I do not want them to have to think twice if they have a passion for science, engineering or any other profession in which still, in this century, men are more favoured than women. I remember growing up in Brazil, and my hard working mother, constantly telling us: ‘-You should be teachers, because it still is the best profession for women if you want to have children.’ Well, two of us became teachers and we do have an engineer sister! The engineer one, does pay her dues…but this is for another blog.
Companies have to have a breastfeeding room with a fridge, and excuse me…If you rank as a so called 1st world country you have to be able to afford at least 6-month-PAID maternity leave to your mothers!
Rest my case 😉