But lugging breast pumps to the office is just part of a larger issue.
"No matter where you are in the world, the conversation about breastfeeding can get a little one-sided," she says. "It tends to focus on all the ways breastfeeding benefits a child, while glossing over just how hard — or even impossible — it can be for a mother: physically, emotionally, and logistically."
Case in point: One of the obstacles women face, according to Gates, is that United States federal government does not legally require paid parental leave. That puts America behind Estonia, Croatia, Korea, Mexico, Cyprus and dozens of other developed countries, according to data compiled by the Pew Research Center.
Employers are required by federal law to give women the time and private space, other than a bathroom, to pump milk for the first year that a baby is alive, according to the United States Breastfeeding Committee. But only 40 percent of women have access to this, according to a 2016 University of Minnesota study.
Some companies are ahead of the curve. Johnson & Johnson, for example, gives moms 17 weeks of paid leave and will ship nursing mothers' breast milk back home with a temperature-controlled delivery service while they're traveling for work. Clif Bar has a similar breast milk policy.
"The bottom line is this: Motherhood is a tough balancing act, and every mom deserves the chance to do what's right for her and her family. If that means breastfeeding, great. If that means formula feeding, that's totally fine, too. I just want to make sure that every mom truly does have both options," Gates says.
August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week — in honor of that, writes Gates: "let's start an honest conversation about how we can make it easier for parents everywhere to nourish their babies."
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