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“I don’t even know the names of the people who are supposed to care for my baby, but I can’t take more time off work. How can I do that? Does that make me a horrible mother?”

“I’m feeding my baby every two hours around the clock and barely sleeping. I’m exhausted and there’s no available childcare but I’ve taken all the time off I can afford. What am I supposed to do?”

These are statements I hear on a regular basis from new parents.

As a lactation consultant, I know that returning to work after having a baby is physically and emotionally trying. Birthing mothers often feel exhausted, sore, inadequate and stressed.

Breastfeeding mothers may be dealing with additional issues that simply take time to resolve. Returning to work before 12 weeks is unreasonable and unhealthy, and often infeasible since quality infant care is extremely hard to come by in Maine. Going unpaid? Not an option for the majority of Mainers.

Mothers also need their partners at home with them. Like a new mother I spoke with recently who hemorrhaged after her birth, developed postpartum preeclampsia, and came home to a toddler with significant behavioral challenges. She simply could not safely care for herself, her toddler, and her newborn on her own.

Maine’s new families need the systemic support a comprehensive paid leave program would offer. Please urge your state legislators to pass and fund LD 1964.

Kara Kaikini
Executive Director
Maine State Breastfeeding Coalition