Paid Family Leave: the Necessary Change.

My neighbor asked me an interesting question: “What has changed about breastfeeding since you started as a Lactation Consultant?” It’s a funny question. The biological facts of breastfeeding haven’t changed. Unfortunately, some very important policies have not changed either.

In 2010, the Affordable Care Act required insurance companies to provide breastfeeding support, supplies and equipment. Despite the intention of the ACA law qualified, accessible support for breastfeeding is still a privilege, luxury or insurance benefit for a few. In fact, it’s easier for a new parent to get a breast pump than get support from an IBCLC. What defines breastfeeding support needs to be clarified.

Actually, it’s support for whole families, Paid Family Leave, that needs to be clarified and firmly established. I was sickened to see Paid Family Leave in the Build Back Better Plan reduced from three months to four weeks, maybe cut out all together. Here in Maine, Paid Family Leave is being actively discussed.

How much Leave time is adequate: 12 weeks, 16 weeks?
Do employees and employers both contribute?
How do we define ‘family’?

As a Maine resident, you can help define how this will work. The committee has been hearing testimonies and has a survey for Employers and Employees to fill out. Take the survey by December 20th.
For Employees
For Employers

Before January 10th, you can e-mail your written comments in support of Paid Family Leave to:

Beyond breastfeeding support and Maternity/Paternity leave, there are many situations that are helped with Paid Leave. These include:

  • Adoption, fostering care,
  • Recovery from surgery/accident or other health condition ((like COVID)
  • Helping a loved one with struggling with chronic condition like dementia
  • Assisting a spouse or parent age at home
  • Dealing with the death or serious health condition of a family member in the military.


This is a policy that recognizes that caring for someone is a fundamental, normal part of community. It influences how people, not just parents, feel about themselves, their bodies and lives. This affects how well children and all people grow, work, and thrive.

Paid time off to care for loved ones is a deeper change that needs to happen. Breastfeeding support is one part of the care we can provide. When my neighbor next asks me about what’s changed in breastfeeding, I’d like to say, “Not much, though that Paid Family Leave sure helps.”