Michelle Obama Needs to Care More About Mothers

Michele Zipp

mother and sonMichelle Obama's Let's Move Child Care campaign is good -- teaching us healthy eating habits for kids and encouraging child care facilities to give children expressed breast milk from mom. But I think she needs to do more. It's not enough.

Breastfeeding is natural and so good for you and your baby, and it's free, but without getting all mom activist and showing you my true colors on where I stand there (ha, already revealed!), I just want to add that I support all mothers and believe moms in America deserve more from our country. So many of us want to breastfeed but instead of our kids getting it straight from the tap, we're forced to pump with the worst manual pump on the market. All while third world countries have the hospital grade hands-free electric one. I'm speaking metaphorically here. In short, this country sucks for moms.

I love America. That's not the issue. I've never once threatened to move to France or Canada because I would never. But WE need to do better. Our pathetic maternity leave policies are one area that needs major help. I believe the lack of good maternity leave options is one of the main reasons women stop breastfeeding. Or never start. The thing I feared most when I went back to work at 12 weeks was pumping. Sitting in a room alone with a machine milking your breasts is the complete opposite of the feelings I would get while nursing my twins. But I did it, every day. I got used to it. But I get why so many moms give up. Or they just don't have an employer who allows those kind of 20-minute breaks, three times a day.

I know I was lucky -- I had a quiet room to pump in, as opposed to a public bathroom stall, and a job where I could pump when I needed to. Not all moms have that option.

It's funny, we're funny ... us Americans. We sing songs and tout campaigns that say kids are our future, but we forget that we wouldn't have kids without mothers to birth that child. So why are we forgetting the egg before the chicken (or the chicken before the egg depending on what you believe). We have pre-emptive strikes in war. But for our biggest battle -- keeping America healthy and strong -- we ignore the core of our existence -- the very person who brings life into this world.

Some early feminists felt that having a child, becoming a mother, takes away from you being a feminist. It's like people felt that a woman becomes a breeder, a procreator, and nothing else. I live in NYC and I see the stereotype of "mother" every day and it's insulting. But many of us now know, feminists included, that women are the future, a woman holds the key, the egg, the ovaries, to our future. And it's about time we -- as a country -- started taking care of mom. And this goes for a woman throughout her pregnancy and beyond. Better health care for pregnant women -- the allowance of doulas, midwives, birthing centers, and birthing pools to be covered by insurance without question or resistance. And we also need the acceptance and exploration of natural birthing methods by hospitals who are used to pushing pitocin and laughing at hypnobirth. We need better care for moms and moms-to-be along with better maternity leave -- and we need those in power to encourage employers to help women get the time they need and still maintain job security. 

We need more, and we need to encourage Michelle Obama to do more. Let's Move is great, but let's move even further with this campaign or a new campaign to take care of what's at our nation's core, what holds the key to our future. Moms.

What more do you think needs to be done for mothers in this country?


Image via Michele Zipp

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