Lack of support can leave women "faced with the feeling like they're not enough at either home or work" and prone to dropping out, says Chivers. "These are women who know they can deliver great things at work and raise happy, normal kids if only their and their partners' employers would trust them enough to crack on in flexible fashion."
Pumping breast milk is a part-time job on top of the full-time job, not to mention that other little thing about going home and raising a baby. So it's no wonder that working, breastfeeding women are vertiable magicians when it comes to hacking their jobs, their breast pumps, and their surroundings to make it all work.
For the past few months I have opened myself up to the world of the office environment, having never experienced this sort of bubble before (usually succumbing myself to either working with children or making coffee) I was apprehensive and intrigued about what I would learn from these new and unfamiliar surroundings.
I have spoken to women who wanted to nurse their babies but couldn't, or decided enough was enough after a few weeks. Many women have perfectly healthy infants and decided right at the start that breastfeeding just wasn't for them, and others are still feeding five-year-olds. I was lucky in that I decided to nurse and, with help, was able to.
Why should women waste their precious time putting on mascara and foundation and shaving their legs? Who has that kind of excess time? Personally, my goal is to get to work as quickly as possible in the morning and to start applying myself to the tasks at hand. Note: I mean applying myself to my work, not applying make-up to myself.
The trick is, to not feel the pressure from all sides, but instead to accept that you can have it all as long as you have help. If giving up work to have children is what's important to you, then do it. If you don't want to give up work but do want to give your children enough of your time, then look at working part time or taking some time off before going back to work.
Since its release just over two weeks ago, much has been said and written about Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's new book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will To Lead. I am not one of Sheryl's haters, in fact, having had the opportunity to witness her speak on a number of occasions while we both worked at Google, I can testify that she is a truly inspirational woman. However, I feel that her story only represents one type of woman, the successful woman in business who also has children.
The beauty of modern technology is that it has vastly speeded up communication and the transmission of information, helping businesses to become more efficient and productive. But this acceleration poses a real challenge for many small business owners who can get left behind if they aren't "up to speed". But for the women entrepreneurs in these same areas those difficulties are multiplied by cultural traditions that often prevent them from being included in local business networks and markets.
It's incredibly difficult to get a part-time job, especially if you are professional, qualified and reasonably well-paid. Too many companies aren't open to the part-time option or to job-shares. Too many women are trapped in the job they have. There is nowhere else to go. It's worse if you have had a baby without the security of a job to go back to. It took me years to get a part-time position, and I know I am not alone. In fact, I have been banging on about this, and the waste of a whole tranche of intelligent, well qualified women, for years.