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February 18, 2011


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When I was living in England, I could have been arrested for indecent exposure if someone chose to make an issue of my breastfeeding my son in public. Technically, the laws haven't changed, but most police will be very slow to respond to a complaint due to a few instances of their having done so raising the ire of local mums. Also some stores (esp. U.S. based like starbucks) have a policy specifically allowing mums to breastfeed on their property, and/or the stores provide really nice lounges.

About that same time, Scotland passed a law saying it was illegal to interfere with the feeding of an infant in public, that an infant had the right to be fed wherever and whenever they were hungry. I don't believe the law specifically permitted breast feeding, it just detailed that an infant could NOT be disturbed,which leads to the conclusion that disturbing his Mum whose boobs were providing lunch was not allowed. Wales has since passed similiar legislation, but England has yet to do so.

As always, you hit the nail right on the head. Thanks, Kristen!

I think it's great that women who pump are getting a tax break. I lucked out with my local WIC lending me a hospital grade pump while I finished my last semester of nursing school; during clinicals I was allowed to take a break whenever I needed, but I hated leaving higher-acuity patients even for the 10 minutes it took to pump. I eventually just switched to formula, but was so thankful that I had use of such a great pump for the time I did use it.

On another note, I read a hilarious quote on Twitter the other day - on Michele Bachman denouncing the tax break for breast feeding supplies, someone wrote ""I keep hoping that Michelle Obama makes a case for breathing. It would be fun to watch Bachmann hold her breath until she turns purple."

@Andrea--The article Kristen cited didn't say Bauchmann and Palin are against tax cuts but they have both made it clear in other media outlets that they are. For example, Michelle Bauchmann went on a national radio program (Laura Ingram) and bashed this idea saying the government should not be giving away breastpumps. So first, she got it wrong that these pumps are now free--they aren't. We are just getting to claim them on our flex spending accounts. And second, it really makes me question her judgement that she would choose this issue to bash Ms. Obama.

I personally welcome the efforts to make breastfeeding items eligible under our flex spending accounts. Formula is subsidized by the government so why shouldn't breatmilk get equal treatment? I would appreciate it if the Republican party (a party I used to identify with) would stay out of my personal life. They say they are all for small goverment except in cases of women's bodies. I don't get that at all.

"I always find it so interesting that conservatives plead non-interference on some issues, but where it comes to abortion and gay marriage, suddenly people are no longer equipped to make their own decisions and need the government to make laws telling them what to do."

Yes, you're right! The unborn are unequipped to make their own decisions and they should be protected so of course, conservatives believe the government should step in. Defenseless babies SHOULD be protected from getting sucked into a sink.

As far as gay marriage goes, should we leave this up to the states to 'regulate'?

Andrea writes: "They are against Mrs. Obama and the government telling parents what to do with their children. Period. Personally, I can do a much better job raising my kids than any government agency."

I always find it so interesting that conservatives plead non-interference on some issues, but where it comes to abortion and gay marriage, suddenly people are no longer equipped to make their own decisions and need the government to make laws telling them what to do.

Hi I'm just dropping by from Singapore.

I can't remember how many times I have breastfed my baby or pumped in a toilet because of a lack of facilities. But I'm lucky as I don't work fulltime. Many of my friends who do have to give up after 6 months once they return fully to work.

Guess this is problem that exists here too.

I had to rent a hospital-grade breastpump, thanks to my non-latching baby. I paid $60 a month for a year for my Medela Symphony and none of it was covered by either my insurance or by our HSA. I asked our insurer about this and the rep said, "Well, formula is just as good."

You can't subsidize farmers for making (or not making) milk and not help moms do the same thing. So glad for the tax breaks for a MEDICAL APPLIANCE finally. Fair is fair.

@Julie - you and me both. I've been a life-long conservative, until the Tea Party showed up. I don't get it. True conservatism has been hijacked by these people who want to cut funding to Sesame Street simply because they don't like it. Since when did Word Girl become the enemy of the state?

RE: Palin & Bachmann....what are they? The Tea Party Ghandi's of Civil Disobedience? Michelle Obama has the respect and the ears of people all over the country who need basic nutrition information - INCLUDING MOTHERS. She is not making policy, she is suggesting policy. She is not voting on said tax breaks, she is bringing the ideas of tax breaks for such things up as a possibility.

I support her 100% on this. And Michelle Bachmann can go back and read a history book or two.

I had to pump on top of the bags of potatoes in the basement of a restaurant, in full view of anyone who walked into that basement.

Then someone ran an extension cord into the closet without a light in it.

Needless to say, I cried a lot. And I don't think for one second that I am an exception to any rule. Which is kind of f'd up.

Nowhere in that article did it state that Bachmann or Palin were against the tax cuts for breast pumps.

They are against Mrs. Obama and the government telling parents what to do with their children. Period. Personally, I can do a much better job raising my kids than any government agency.

Is obesity an issue? Of course. But since when is it up to the government to solve everyone's problems? Why does everyone think government is the answer? Government is the problem!!!!

Andrea - I'm not quite sure how giving a tax break to women who purchase nursing pumps and other supplies constitutes the government telling us what to do. It just gives those of us who choose to do it a very small break.

And actually, it IS the government's business what we do because it's an issue of public health. Aside from the medical benefits of breatfeeding, the obesity epidemic is COSTING us billions of dollars.

I think you make a very good point and it's refreshing to hear someone talk about these issues. Thanks for a really insightful post.

I love Sarah Palin and thinks she is right on. Who does Michelle Obama think she is, telling parents what to do or what should be done with kids? This has nothing to do with Palin or Bachmann being for or against breastfeeding...it has to do with the government telling ME what to do! IT IS NONE OF THE GOVERNMENT'S BUSINESS what I do in my family!

I've had it with the gov't thinking they know more than I do, as a mother, as a woman, as a human being. I can't wait until this president is out of office and government's tentacles get OUT of my life. Good God, the government can't even run the DMV efficiently, and people think they should be telling us what to do with our families? VERY scary.

Well said. Why on earth would these people even bother registering an opinion on this topic, when the amount in question is such a small amount of money in the grand scheme of things, except to have yet another thing to ignorantly yammer on about? Ugh.

Sort of random, but cool. I just got my info packet from insurance for their little pregnancy monitoring program, and it has a WIC brochure in it. Not a bottle to be found in the whole thing, but lots of pictures of breastfeeding. Yay!

Jo nailed it. It's such opportunistic grandstanding it's disgusting, and people who elect the likes of Michelle Bachmann should be ashamed of themselves. Has she ever had one thoughtful thing to say? About anything? It makes me sick.

I swear, if Michelle Obama said we have to improve test scores in this country, or make schools safer, or start picking up our dog poop, those two would find a reason to disagree with her.

Hey I live in a WIC and Foodstamps neighborhood, I would guess probably 80% of the mothers in this neighborhood are on assistance. It does cover formula and so I see tons of moms feeding formula without even considering breastfeeding. I am definitely not a must-give-a-breast kind of woman but there is very little information for these women on breastfeeding (including that it is free). I get a lot of funky stares from the ladies when I whip the ole boob on the playground for my 5 month old. I say support mothers anyway you can by giving the information and allowing them to make the decision on their own.

Also, I pumped at work w/ #1 and I pump several times at day for #2, and my friends pumped at work for the first year. It sucked but it is doable. Whatever your decision, should be just that and respected.

Rock on mamas!

Michelle Obama's effort in this regard is noble and very welcome

You know, politics aside, I have to admit that I'm totally in love with the first family, especially Michele. I'm so glad that she's using her platform to address such relevant issues.

I don't understand why the media keeps giving Mrs. Palin and Mrs. Bachmann airtime. Except that I guess it sells papers. They are not normal, mainstream women, much less normal, mainstream moms (although that could be argued either direction). I, for one, am extremely tired of their opinions being bandied about like they are actually valid. When they talk, especially about breastfeeding, or really anything having to do with raising children, they sound like good ol' boys from the 1950s. I desperately wish they would just STFU.

You know what seems important to Republicans? Disagreeing with Democrats. It has all become such a ridiculous circus and it is seriously hindering the improvement of a very powerful nation. And we need improvement.

Formula has always been provided for women in need. And the government isn't buying everyone a breast pump. It's a freaking tax break! Puh-lease. Excuse the pun, but gimme a break.

I'm with Julie, I don't understand them being so concerned with tax breaks, seeing as they are all for lowering taxes.
You want me to take responsibility for my health, and my family's health, so you can have less regulation, because you think it should be my job to do that, not the governments. However, when it comes down to providing me with resources and tax breaks to be responsible on my own (something you suggest we do for companies) then you don't support it? I don't get that.
That pump I bought was expensive, and I'm in a higher income bracket. I was lucky to be able to do that. Isn't it easier to provide a tax break on a pump than say, oh, pay for formula for kids in subsidized daycare, which the government already does? At least here in MN, which Bachmann should know since she does live here. You even get the added benefit of long term health benefits, saving us all money.

Screw Sarah Palin. I'm deaf to anything that woman says anymore, since 99.9% of it is ignorant or irrelevant.

And since when do Republicans balk at tax breaks? One more reason I'm glad I left the party - I can't figure out what's important to them anymore.

At least I know what's important to me and my family - our health and the health of the rest of our country (because yes, it does have a fiscal impact on all of us). Glad FLOTUS is working with these values in mind too.

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