Let’s Fight For Our Right to Pump

Moms, it’s time to take a stand. Whether you breastfeed or use formula, whether you make alternative choices or mainstream ones, whether you work or stay home, let’s support mothers who pump at work.

Yes, we’re making great headway. The recent legislation for nursing moms who work and need to pump is an important start. It sets the ground rules from which mothers and companies across the United States can find understanding and build support.

But when a manager feels he can stop a mom from pumping at work because he finds it “disgusting,” we see that there’s still a lot of work to be done. This is where we can all make a difference.

Be aware and listen. Do the pumping moms around you have the support they need at work? Or do they face barriers? How often do they encounter unusual and/or inconvienent circumstances? Women should not be so discouraged at work that they would rather stop breastfeeding than face unneccesary obstacles.

Share the facts. If you see someone facing obstacles, let them know about the U.S. Department of Labor’s requirements for pumping at work. Here are their general requirements:

Employers are required to provide“reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.”  Employers are also required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”

Know the details. As with any legislation, there are exceptions to the rule. In this case, employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to break time requirements if compliance with the provision would impose an undue hardship. Working moms in these situations should not, however, be immediately detracted from pumping. The legislation specifies:

Whether compliance would be an undue hardship is determined by looking at the difficulty or expense of compliance for a specific employer in comparison to the size, financial resources, nature, and structure of the employer’s business. All employees who work for the covered employer, regardless of work site, are counted when determining whether this exemption may apply.

These factors provide much more flexibility than many moms realize and, if they need more information, the Department of Labor encourages moms to visit their Wage and Hour Division’s website or call their toll-free information and helpline, available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in your time zone, 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243). They should also look into their state’s legislation, which may be even more beneficial.

Spread confidence. Not everyone is comfortable with discussing breastfeeding, especially in a work environment, but this should never prevent a mom who wants to pump at work from doing so. As each one of us pumps at work, we make it easier for the next mom to feel secure about what she’s doing. It becomes less of an alternative choice and more of a mainstream solution that’s far from “disgusting.”

Let’s look out for each other, ladies (and fellas! we need you too!). Let’s cheer when things are working well, acknowledge when things can be improved and take immediate action when they’re wrong. Mothers, and most importantly, our children, are worth every effort.

Working moms, does pumping at the office work for you? If so, what is your company doing right? If not, what can be improved? 

Kristen is the proud mom of two, Will (5) and Joy ( 2). She feels lucky to work for a company that let her pump in peace and hopes that soon every breastfeeding mom who works away from home has the same opportunity.

 

 

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1 Comment

Filed under Kristen, Milk

One response to “Let’s Fight For Our Right to Pump

  1. I think teachers are exempt :( meaning we dont have the benefits of the legislation.

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