Working moms have to deal with a challenge other professionals don't face: Pumping during business hours to have enough milk to feed their babies when they can't be there in person. Many women make the sacrifice, deal with the inconvenience, and face being uncomfortable around co-workers by pumping at work. Why? Most organizations are still ignorant or naive about what it takes to continue breastfeeding, at the very least, for the recommended full first year of your baby's life. Even if you live in a legally-mandated state that requires a pump room separate from the bathroom, it's not always an ideal (or comfortable) location, creating embarrassment and even humiliation.
Not only does it improve the health of the mother and child, it can also save employers money in absenteeism and turnover, save billions in healthcare costs, and serve the health of our nation as a whole. And yet, only 14 percent of U.S. mothers are able to breastfeed exclusively for the doctor-recommended period of 12 months. Add to that, most new moms give up within the first six months because it's not convenient to pump at work, and there is a real issue at hand.
But it's not all bad. We asked our Facebook fans how they juggle work and breastfeeding and the majority said they have employers who fully support them.
“I am fortunate enough to work in a place that supports me and allows me to pump twice a day in a room that only I have access to.” “Very lucky I work in a neonatal unit and have pumping rooms available! And of course the support of managers and coworkers.” “I work for a company that supports breastfeeding. There is a mother's room on site, which is a code entry. The mothers have their own scheduled times. I'm very lucky. When I pumped with my older son I had to pump in restrooms, my car, and a storage room with no lock.”
But there were also some moms who face challenges.
“It is so hard! I really can't explain how I do it but I pump at least twice, but getting away from my desk is the hardest!!”
Regardless of where you work, your employer should provide you with a safe, secure room that locks so you can pump in private. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, it's the law for up to a year after your baby is born. Know your rights, talk to your employer, and get what you need to safely and privately pump while at work. What has your experience been with pumping at work?