Pumping In The Workplace: Talking to Your Employer

December 11, 2012

You’ve welcomed your new little one into the world, started to get the hang of breastfeeding and spent countless hours cuddling. Unfortunately, it’s almost time for you to return to work and begin providing for your baby in a different way. For a new mom, talking about breastfeeding or pumping to coworkers can take a little getting used to, especially if they aren’t well educated about the benefits of breast milk. So, we’ve compiled some tips to make these conversations with supervisors, coworkers and critics open and easy.

Have a plan
While pregnant, start thinking about a plan for pumping at work. Many moms find it easiest to pump once in the morning, over lunch and in the afternoon. Others find their pumping routine varies based on meetings and schedules throughout the day. Think about what would work best for you and your baby’s needs.

Start with your supervisors
It best to start a conversation with your supervisor before you take your maternity leave. That way expectations are set before baby even comes. Keep in mind that employers are required to provide a reasonable break for you to pump or breastfeed throughout the day. If you work closely with other employees, feel free to talk about your plan with them too. Ideally, open communication about your needs will yield the best work environment for a pumping mom. This is the time to talk about how you’ll manage your work responsibilities and take the necessary breaks for pumping. Also, find out if there are other coworkers you can approach who have successfully pumped while at work. What tips can they share with you?

Explain the benefits
If you are met with criticism by coworkers or supervisors, share the benefits breast milk feeding has for your little one and remind them of the rights of working mothers. If this approach makes you uncomfortable, focus on communicating with your supervisor and coming to an agreement. Don’t feel obligated to talk to each coworker about your personal decision to breastfeed. You know what’s best for your baby and you don’t need to justify that to anyone. It’s your legal right to pump in the workplace, so never feel embarrassed or second-guess your decision to provide the best nutrition possible for your little one.

How did you talk to your supervisors and coworkers about pumping at work? Share your suggestions in the comments below.

13 thoughts on “Pumping In The Workplace: Talking to Your Employer

  1. While we’ve never encountered the situation, should any of our employees ever need to breastfeed on-the-job, I will personally ensure that their needs are accommodated to the fullest extent possible. I appreciate the information.

    On a different note, I hope someone from Medela replies to my inquiry about establishing a wholesale account. We are very impressed with your products and believe they would be a nice compliment to our existing line of maternity product offerings.

  2. ashley slagle says:

    My job is trying to put me up in a bathroom. I need help to explain to them that is not the place I will be pumping. Help me not flip out!

    • Hi Ashley – Your employer is required to provide a location for pumping other than a bathroom. Hang in there and be honest with your employer about your needs. Good luck!

    • Ashley,

      I hope things have been resolved at your workplace and depending on the state you live in, it is the law that they provide you a room (not a bathroom) with a locked door and a private area with no windows to the internal office. If there is an internal window it needs to be made private with either blinds/shades or covering with paper/blackout paper. Now this being said, they can put you in a closet as long as there is a lock on the door for you to operate from the inside. If you are still having issues, set up a meeting with your human resource director and discuss your rights as a breastfeeding and working mother. GOOD LUCK!!!

  3. This is all great advice, but what about those who start a new job after baby? I recently started working and pump on my lunch breaks in my car. I just got an electric pump that I would like to be able to use so that I can actually relax for part of my break and need a private place to plug it in. With my supervisor being a man with no children, it’s difficult to talk about. Any tips?

  4. Is the dressing room or fitting room a suitable place to stick a pumping mother because the doors lock? It’s not private. And makes me very uncomfortable to think that I may be shoved there for pumping at work.

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