Pumping at Work: What Employers Can Do to Help Breastfeeding Moms

January 29, 2014
Pumping at Work: What Employers Can Do to Help Breastfeeding Moms

We still hear too often of moms having to fight for their right to use a breastpump at work. Fortunately, there are many laws in place that protect breastfeeding moms at their place of work, but it’s important to educate yourself and talk directly with your employer to set yourself up for success. You may also wish to share with your supervisor the benefits of breastfeeding and why continuing to provide breastmilk for your little one is so important.

Here are some ways that your employer can help support you in your breastfeeding goals:

  • Provide a designated nursing mothers room. The law requires that this room not be a bathroom and be hidden from view, but it’s also great to provide an extra-comfortable chair, preferably with arms, and make sure there are plenty of outlets for powering electric breastpumps.
  • Plan for storage. Breastfeeding moms will need to store milk in either a cooler with ice packs or in the fridge, so make room! If possible, allow moms to also store pumps, pump kits, and spare parts either in the nursing mothers room or in a cabinet nearby.
  • Allow for easy cleaning. Provide a sink somewhere close, if not in the nursing mothers room, for washing hands and rinsing pump parts.
  • Create an environment that supports breastfeeding moms and respects their parenting decisions. This might mean updating or creating a written company policy and communicating this policy to all employees.
  • Be flexible. Understand that pumping takes time, and although it may be possible to multitask in some instances, it’s not always comfortable (or convenient). Work with moms to adjust beginning and end times of work, time breaks when other employees can cover necessary tasks, and plan schedules ahead of time to reduce stress. Some companies even allow schedule options such as a gradual return to work or flex schedules to accommodate moms’ needs.

It’s also important to recognize the benefits of breastfeeding for employers – moms who breastfeed miss less work due to infant illness, have lower healthcare costs, and increased productivity, loyalty, and satisfaction.

What does your employer do to support breastfeeding moms? What do you wish they did better? We’d love to hear about your experiences.

4 thoughts on “Pumping at Work: What Employers Can Do to Help Breastfeeding Moms

  1. My employer does all the above. We have a nice room w a locking door, big comfy chair, mini fridge, shelf, sink/soap, paper towels, hand sanitizer and a foot stool. I pump twice a day. Once after each 15min break. Amazon is very accommodating. My HR rep has even asked several times, of there’s anything else we need in the room. Anything they can do to make it better, easier, nicer! But it’s fine. I’m not gunna ask for too much, other than a clock! Mayb a mirror or a pic of the baby, since we can’t have our phones.

    • Hi Mary Ann – that’s fantastic! We love hearing that there are employers out there who genuinely care about moms and support their breastfeeding journeys. We hope that more workplaces begin to follow suit. Thanks for sharing your experience with us – Kathy

  2. I work as a CPA and my company is awesomely supportive – a lactation program that includes lactation consultant support for at least six months, nursing mother rooms in all our offices and extremely generous leave compared to other companies (I was able to stay out – paid- for 4 months with each of my children). Unfortunately, things aren’t so rosy when I go back to work because nearly all of my work happens outside of the office at client sites. My clients represent the spectrum of supportive. One of the best has a specific nursing mothers room set up for two pumping mommas to have private space and includes a fridge. One of the pumping moms there made a cute bulletin board for moms to put up pictures of the babies that room has helped get the best start in life possible. On the other end of the spectrum is a company that had 3 female employees (total) and none were child bearing age. Needless to say they didn’t have anything setup, but even they were able to figure out something to accomodate me because I asked. I have used CEO/CFO offices, a no longer used shower stall, a supply room, a first aid room, and a variety of other offices and conference rooms. In the end, what I have found is that people are ultimately supportive and really try to make things work for me. the key is asking for support in the first place; I think people hear horror stories and are afraid to ask. I think that if all of these companies are willing to figure something out for me, a non-employee, then surely they would be supportive of their own people – So ask!

    • Hi Olivia,

      Thank you for sharing your experience, it’s so true that you never know unless you ask (and it never hurts to do so)! We’re happy to hear that you were able to find a way to pump regardless of the situation you were in. Keep up the great work!

      Kathy

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