If you want to learn more about some of the central issues in #breastfeedinginnovation, here are some resources about breastfeeding disparities in America; paid leave; and equity, intersectionality, and design.
Breastfeeding disparities in America
Structural racism, classism, patriarchy and other systems of oppression in the United States have rendered breastfeeding a luxury good: babies from well-off families get it, and other babies do not. The results are both tragic and preventable: black and brown babies are four times more likely than white babies to die in their first year.
Statistically, black and brown infants are disproportionately born premature and of low birthweight, making breastmilk a virtual life saver for their underdeveloped systems.
- ‘Racial and Ethnic Differences in Breastfeeding’ by Chelsea O. McKinney et al
- Pediatrics (2016)
- ‘Working to Close the Breast-Feeding Gap’ by Shannon Shelton Miller
- New York Times (2017)
- ‘The Big Letdown: How Medicine, Big Business, and Feminism Undermine Breastfeeding’ by Kimberly Seals Allers
- St. Martin’s Press (2017)
- 2014 First Food Forum Address, by Kiddada Green [video]
- WK Kellogg Foundation (2014)
To establish a milk supply in the first few weeks of a baby’s life, parent and child must stay close. That is difficult in the United States, which is the only industrialized nation without paid parental leave. (The only other countries that don’t provide paid leave are Papua New Guinea, Suriname and a handful of Pacific Island nations.) Only 14 percent of civilian workers in the United States have access to paid leave, and they tend to occupy upper-income echelons and work in tech, consulting, or finance. About 25 percent of mothers in the United States return to work 10 days after giving birth – when those who delivered a child vaginally are often still bleeding.
- Paid Family Leave Ensures Equity For All by ChangeLab Solutions
- General resources on paid leave by A Better Balance
- Paid family and medical leave: a cornerstone of equity and opportunity for workers and families by the Economic Opportunity Institute (2016)
- A New Study Shows Other Countries Are Making Paid Leave Work by Alieza Durana and Haley Swenson Slate (2018)
Equity, Intersectionality, and Design
Innovation and design work often happen in a vacuum, absent an understanding of how race, gender, and inequity are at play in interpersonal interactions, social processes, and institutional decision-making. Additionally, race, gender, and other social factors such as sexual orientation, nationality, class etc can intersect as forms of oppression and discrimination – a process known as “intersectionality,” to point to the intersectional nature of identity. Breastfeeding and women’s health generally are not immune from these dynamics.
- ‘Racism and Inequity Are Products of Design. They Can Be Redesigned’ by Caroline Hill, Michelle Molitor, and Christine Ortiz Equity Design Collaborative (2016)
- The Urgency of Intersectionality by Kimberlé Crenshaw [video]
- TEDWomen (2016)
- ‘A Feminist HCI Approach to Designing Postpartum Technologies: ”When I First Saw a Breast Pump I Was Wondering If It Was a Joke”’ by Catherine D’Ignazio, Becky Michelson, Alexis Hope, et. al CHI (2016)