Breastfeeding Medicine

Physicians blogging about breastfeeding

Call your Senator now to support paid family leave

with 4 comments

Last week, we learned that poor breastfeeding rates cost the US $13 billion a year in lost lives and excess health costs. The study, by ABM member Melissa Bartick, generated headlines around the globe. We’re losing $13 billion – that’s billlion with a ‘b’ — every year because mothers and babies can’t sustain breastfeeding. What can we do to support moms so they can meet their breastfeeding goals? We could start with paid parental leave.

The US shares with Swaziland, Lesotho, and Papua New Guinea the dubious distinction of being the only countries without it. Paid leave would allow mothers to spend those first months nurturing their infants, rather than cobbling together a few weeks of sick leave and disability to make ends meet.

That’s where you come in. MomsRising wants you to call your Senators now and get their support for the State Paid Leave Fund. Here’s the scoop from MomsRising:

When you call, you’ll be asking your Senators to sign on to what is called a “member-to-member” letter — that means that it’s a letter to Senators from Senators. It asks the Senate Appropriations Committee to support full funding of a State Paid Leave Fund. This fund, proposed by President Obama, would provide $50 million in competitive grants to help states launch paid leave programs.

A little seed money can go a long way toward advancing new policies, and it’s never been more critical to push forward paid family leave programs.

I just called my Senators’ offices — it took all of about 5 minutes. According to MomsRising, even 2 calls to each Senator’s office could make a huge difference in this crucial public health issue. Moms and babies need your voice — Please call now, and spread the word!

Alison Stuebe, MD, MSc, is a maternal-fetal medicine physician and assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Written by astuebe

April 13, 2010 at 11:00 am

Posted in In the news, policy

4 Responses

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  1. In the ’70’s when I wanted to get a job I had to promise/swear that I would not get pregnant before I had a shot at the job. Required breastfeeding breaks during the work day and enforced parental leave will put women in the workforce back 40 years. Businesses cannot afford to support the good intentions of our society and they will quietly continue to move to other countries where the workforce is happy to have a job or will simply eliminate the jobs that young women of childbearing age would fill. Individuals must make the hard choices to stay home and parent their own children which may mean the same change in lifestyle that our grandparents made. Of course, this will be contrary to what young people have seen on TV as being “real” life, but in the end healthy children and happy families will be worth it.


    April 13, 2010 at 11:44 am

  2. Katherine – I hear your concern that employers may discriminate against mothers because they may consider taking paid leave. However, it’s important to realize that outside the US, only Swaziland, Lesotho, and Papua New Guinea do not provide some provision for paid maternal leave. It’s unlikely, therefore, that US employers will shift jobs overseas to avoid this provision.

    Moreover, this legislation doesn’t obligate individual employers to pay workers during leave. Rather, it supports state initiatives to create family leave insurance, similar to unemployment insurance. Currently California, Washington, and New Jersey have state paid leave insurance programs. This benefit would provide crucial support not only for new moms, but also workers with a sick family member, whether a child, spouse, or aging parent. For more on the bill, see the budget document: .

    To learn more about the bill,


    April 13, 2010 at 12:07 pm

  3. Katherine, babies are dying because most families do not have the choice to stay home and breastfeed for a year. This isn’t our grandparents or even our parent’s days where a single income family was a norm. You have to be extremely privileged to have that now as the cost of living has gone up w/o wages matching it. Having a family should not be only affordable for the rich.


    April 13, 2010 at 12:55 pm

  4. The best way for the government to support mothers nurturing their babies (and their older children, and their sick family members…) is to keep taxes low so that families who make a modest income can still have the mother at home if they choose–not just for a few months, but for as long as they are willing to make the sacrifices. I remember a local property tax increase to support all day kindergarten–something that does NOT benefit the children, but benefits working mothers. The irony is that the tax increase seemed small for the double income families. For the families surviving on one income, it was a real hardship.


    April 13, 2010 at 1:35 pm

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