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Trump’s Threat to Breastfeeding Rights

A breastfeeding expert digs into the potential ACA repeal.

Trump’s Threat to Breastfeeding Rights

As a breastfeeding expert, doula and advocate for women’s health, I’m dismayed about Trump’s treatment of women. He boasts about sexual assault, signs away reproductive freedoms, and tells female staffers how to dress. So it’s no surprise he is likely to undermine women’s health rights and protections -- and that includes breastfeeding. Working moms and all who care about breastfeeding: here’s what you need to know about Trump’s threat to breastfeeding rights.

Trump has promised to repeal Obamacare (aka the Affordable Care Act) without promising anything in its place. But it’s thanks to the ACA that most insurance providers are currently required to provide breastfeeding equipment and counseling for pregnant and nursing women. At Breast Start and Boober, I provide breastfeeding support to new moms every day, and many of them can come to me only because the services are covered by their insurance. So I'm all too aware of how much the access that they get through the ACA matters and how big of a difference it can make. You can read exactly what the ACA provides to support breastfeeding here.

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But Trump’s threat to repeal Obamacare means a potential loss much broader than coverage for breastfeeding counseling. “The ACA also includes provisions providing breastfeeding moms at companies with 50 or more employees with a reasonable break time to pump in a private location that is not a bathroom,” says Alex Berke, an associate at Berke-Weiss Law PLLC. Berke spearheads the firm's Pregnancy Project, including classes on workplace rights for the modern mom.

“Any repeal of the ACA would take [workplace breastfeeding] rights away and leave women vulnerable to being denied health insurance due to their pregnancy or cesarean recovery being considered a pre-existing condition,” Berke says. “Women should also be concerned that an ACA repeal could allow insurance companies to charge women more in their monthly premiums, a practice that was stopped by the ACA, and is explicitly allowed in Congressman Tom Price's bill, one of the few legislative ‘replace’ options.”

In other words, doing away with Obamacare could mean no time to pump at work, no private space to pump at work (besides, perhaps, the bathroom), no more free breast pumps, no more access to lactation counseling, and even denial of health insurance because pregnancy or cesareans might, like they once were before Obamacare was implemented, be considered “pre-existing conditions.”

While we don’t yet know what a Trump-approved replacement health-care bill could look like, we do know that he called a woman “disgusting” for needing a pumping break during her deposition with him, and that at least one breastfeeding infant was separated from her mother for hours in the chaos that followed Trump’s executive order banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.

Given the GOP's war against women's health and reproductive rights, Trump’s record of impulsivity and total disregard for women’s rights and bodily autonomy may be given new heights. It is not a stretch to imagine that his administration will not only roll back the protections the ACA has given to pregnant and breastfeeding moms, but might also attempt to actively restrict rights to breastfeed in public or pump in the workplace.

Breastfeeding -- and breast pumping -- isn’t just some luxury lifestyle choice. It’s a matter of women’s and children’s health, which should be accessible to everyone. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that women breastfeed exclusively for 6 months. “Breastfeeding decreases the possibility that your baby will get a variety of infectious diseases, ear infections, diarrhea, etc,” according to the AAP. What’s more, it benefits the mother too. For example, breastfeeding mothers return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster, have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and experience less postpartum bleeding.

It is common for new moms to struggle with breastfeeding. For their sake, and that of their babies, we need to make it easier, not harder, for them to breastfeed. Among developed countries, the U.S. already has some of the lowest rates of breastfeeding and most dismal support of working parents. In a world where other nations offer mothers six months to a year of fully paid leave, it’s unfortunate that we even need legislation to ensure that moms who are forced to go back to work so early have the ability to pump. So let’s focus on preserving the Affordable Care Act. Let’s persist in preserving and defending our health-care rights and the basic right to feed and provide for our children.

* The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Well Rounded.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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Life

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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