Mountain Family: So much for ‘family values’ |

Mountain Family: So much for ‘family values’

Special to the DailyTamara Miller

I just don’t get it.

Twice today I have received e-mails that show just how far we as a society have to go in supporting and accepting breastfeeding.

First, it was an e-mail about a local woman who is having trouble convincing her boss to let her express milk for her baby while she is at work.

Then, it was a news story I came across while goofing off on the web about an Australian mom who was grilled by police after using the parent’s room in a mall to pump milk for her baby.

As a nursing and working mom, I’m particularly sensitive to the lack of support for breastfeeding out there ” despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants be breastfed for a year. And despite the fact that there is, admittedly, tons of pressure on new moms to breastfeed, even though the practice is challenging and quite often painful to learn in the beginning, and can be uncomfortable to practice anywhere outside of the house.

For the record, I have been lucky enough to encounter tons of support for my choice to nurse my daughter in the Vail Valley. Beginning with the encouragement from the Vail Valley Medical Center when I delivered my child, to the relative ease I’ve found when I’ve needed to nurse my child in public, to the willingness my employer has shown to accommodate my need to pump ” even before a law was enacted in Colorado that requires employers to accommodate a new mom’s need to pump breastmilk for up to two years after her child is born.

That’s right. Colorado employers are required to let moms pump and to give them a place to do it, and no, the bathroom doesn’t count. Maybe someone should tell that local woman’s boss that.

But I can’t ignore the mixed messages new moms often get in modern society.

Doctors encourage us to breastfeed because breastmilk is a superior food for infants. Yet, many segments of society frown on a woman who nurses in public ” even when it is done discreetly. And some employers, despite the law, will begrudge mom for keeping that breastfeeding relationship alive by pumping at work.

At the same time, moms who formula-feed their child ” either by choice or necessity ” are made to feel guilty for not breastfeeding their child. I don’t think that’s right, either.

I’m not so naïve to expect there to be a universal view on parenting in this country.

But even now, seven months after my daughter was born, I still can remember how overwhelmed and scared I felt in those first few weeks after she was born. So concerned with doing everything right, doing everything perfectly. After trusting my instinct for most of my adult life, that confidence I had in my decision-making was simply erased in an instant at 1:12 a.m. Feb. 5.

I’m no pro even now, but somehow my husband and I have settled into a routine and an unofficial philosophy about how to best parent our daughter. We still second-guess ourselves from time to time, but overall, we feel good about our roles as parents. And whenever we have a doubt, just seeing our thriving daughter’s smiling face, her delight in our presence, can put most of those worries at ease.

But forgive me for asking that new moms get a break from time to time. Breastfeeding or not, 99 percent of us are just trying to do our best. Shouldn’t that count for something?

Tamara Miller is the Opinion/Projects Editor for the Vail Daily and the Vail Trail. She can be reached at

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