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Chelsea Clinton Wants Periods and Breastfeeding to Be Stigma-Free

Chelsea Clinton wants to work to get rid of the stigma surrounding breastfeeding and menstruation.

In an essay for Well + Good, the vice chair of the Clinton Foundation spoke out about the need for more education and support for women around these topics. “We need to change the conversation, the practices, and the policies that too often punish women for being women—and prevent mothers from being the moms they want to be for their kids,” Clinton wrote. “We shouldn’t be embarrassed by breastfeeding or menstruation, but we should be ashamed that women are suffering in silence because too many people refuse to speak out.”

The former first daughter also discussed her privilege of having access to sanitary products and a space to pump milk without shame, which isn’t the reality for many low-income women. And those barriers can have detrimental affects in the U.S. and around the world, including causing young girls to miss school during their periods or stripping women of the choice between breastfeeding or giving their children formula.

“Sometimes I mistimed feeding or pumping and I could feel the milk leak out and soak the pads in my bra — and yes, I was lucky because I could afford disposable pads so I could at least know the leakage wouldn’t be visible as I was standing on a stage, sitting in a meeting, giving an interview, or reading a story to Charlotte (though that would have been a teachable moment),” she wrote. “Many women cannot afford to buy or rent a pump, have inflexible work schedules, have to go back to work after just days or weeks of giving birth, and have no access to even a shred of privacy in which to pump at work.”

“Do you feel awkward reading this?” Clinton asked. “I hope not — and if you do, I hope you’ll think about why.”

Read the full essay at Well + Good.





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Write to Samantha Cooney at samantha.cooney@time.com