We still hear too often of moms having to fight for their right to use a breast pump 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 breast milk 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 breast pumps.
- 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.