As a writer, I was blessed to be able to work from home when both my children were babies, nursing them several times a day and rarely having to use the dreaded breast pump. I have an incredible amount of respect for women who are forced to return to work during the breastfeeding months and despite the hassle, commit to pumping multiple times a day in order to enable their babies are exclusively breast milk-fed for the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of six months.
Society pressures us to work, while doctors pressure us to breastfeed.
By no means do I judge women who opt out of pumping at this point, as I am not sure I could haul that big old breast pump around just so I could sit at the office, pumping every few hours while pounding away at the keyboard.
This is why I love how working mother of two, Kasey Jones, demonstrates both the emotional and physical struggle that millions of women face when forced to return to the workforce in her brilliant photo series, “Working Mother Suit.”
“It’s disheartening to know that most mothers do not have a choice and are forced to work full-time on top of caring for an infant,” the artist and educator wrote on Instagram.
“The United States is still the only developed country that does NOT guarantee paid maternity leave. This is a disservice to the betterment of humanity; to the physical and mental health of the people who are in this transitory state: mother, father, child. We need to value self-care as much as we value money. We need to sustain families through this phase so they can reenter the workforce healthy and balanced. Mothers Unite for paid maternity leave.”
She explains that for the first year of her daughter’s life, she pumped over 14 gallons of milk in order to work part-time.
“I went back to work when she was 4 weeks old. The pressure to breastfeed and the pressure to go back to work as quickly as possible in our society is incomprehensible. Our effort goes unnoticed and that weighs heavily on our mental health.”
In one of the images, Jones is shown pumping on a toilet, which many women are forced to do when there is no other private places.
“How we treat Mothers in our society reflects what we value the most and what we value the least,” she writes.
“An all too common occurrence, we are often forced to pump in the bathroom stalls. Pumping liquid gold as the smell of sh*t and p*ss lingers in the air. If breast is best, give Mothers the space they deserve in the work place so we can comfortably collect the food that nourishes our baby.”
Jones, whose daughters are 6 and 17 months old, was inspired to create the Working Mother Suit after returning to work shortly after the birth of her second child, telling The Huffington Post that she wanted to help unite working mothers and create a symbol of advocacy for their cause.
“The more conversation we have about the harsh realities of working and caring for an infant and the lack of support we actually receive, the more something will change,” she told them.
“Breastfeeding is work and this laborious task is often diminished by those who have never experienced it,” she said. “I hope that when people look at these images they realize how much we do as mothers. We are the pillars of society. We should be honored and supported more.”
She, as well as the rest of us, hope that legislation and workplace policies will change, as the current situation is takings a toll on the health of both mothers and children.
To view the entire “Working Mother Suit” photo series, head over to Kasey Jones’ Instagram page.
h/t: The Huffington PostMore On