For new mothers seeking to give their offspring the health benefits of breast milk without having to get too close, gestation crates, commonly used in pork production, have now been approved for human use.
"It's perfect," said new mom Kim Lowell, who utilizes her two-and-a-half-by-seven-foot stall to take a load off her aching feet, and lounge on her side, while her infant son, Wes, breastfeeds through metal bars. "It's never too early to start training children not to be codependent."
Of course, unlike female pigs forced to live their entire lives in stalls too small for them to even turn around, Lowell has the luxury of leaving her gestation crate anytime she chooses. "I don't spend a lot of time there," she said. "A few hours a day, while I'm feeding Wes. But it's invaluable for the additional freedom it gives me. This way, I can use my phone without having to worry about him trying to crawl all over me." She shuddered. "Ick. Don't get me wrong, I love my son. But it's nice to get a break."
While the animal rights community has been working to ban the use of gestation crates for farmed hogs, on the basis that they are unconscionably cruel, no such pushback is expected with regard to human gestation crates.
Kenneth Sullivan, CEO of Smithfield, the world's largest pork producer, claims that gestation crates offer new mothers a handy way of setting healthy boundaries with their babies. "And women seem to love them," said Sullivan. "Which works out well for us, since it means there will be a market for our crates if we ever stop using them for hogs. It's a win-win - which is what good business is all about."