Are regulations for pumping at work actually being followed?
A few weeks ago we discussed pumping at work and what you are entitled to legally--- both through federal AND state guidelines. Recently, an article from Huffington Post commented on how well (or not) these regulations are currently being followed.
After reading this we wanted to give our thoughts on the topic --- because it really isn't that difficult for an employer to follow!
AND not only is it beneficial for the mother and baby--- it shows countless positive results for companies as well!
So what results were found?
They found that 1 out of 5 of the employers surveyed broke the law--- aka 255 out of 376 total!
That's a lot!
Essentially, while allowing a mother time to pump doesn't affect the company negatively, if a woman cannot pump, it hurts both her and then the company indirectly.
Not allowing or accommodating women who desire to pump creates a huge financial, emotional, and physical toll on these women.
Some may say that this statement is dramatic, but we disagree. If a mother cannot pump she is automatically at risk of decreasing her milk supply. Supply and demand 101... if there is less or no demand, there will be a decrease in supply.
With a decrease in supply, working moms are then forced to buy formula to make up for their decrease in milk supply. Infant formula is EXPENSIVE, and most women cannot afford it with any normal salary, causing a financial burden.
Due to this decrease in milk supply, many women may feel like they failed because they weren't able to fully breastfeed and therefore feel as though they are neglecting their child. Today, many women feel like they have to choose between a career and raising children, and not being able to pump causes an emotional burden and drives a wedge further into the ability to do both.
More results of unsupported breast pumping...
The milk doesn't just dry up... a mom may experience engorgement and mastitis in the process of her neglected milk supply. In many cases, women may leak if she can't pump ´in time´ causing both physical and emotional discomfort.
The infant will go through stress too. He or she is used to receiving mamas milk, but now they may have to switch to infant formula which may not settle right with their belly. They will also lose the precious bonding time between mom and baby while breastfeeding.
This article laid out a story about a mom who worked at Walmart. After coming back to work, she brought her electric pump---but the room they provided for her didn't have an outlet. She was forced to pump in a room where other employees were in and out and even held meetings in. The solution? They gave her a manual pump so she didn't need an outlet. Well, because she was used to an electric pump and a manual pump is not as strong, her milk supply dropped off. She ended up having to buy infant formula --of which her baby had a negative reaction from--forcing her to buy a more expensive brand. Eventually, the management installed an outlet in the original space, but by then-- she was already fully giving infant formula.
Okay but that's just Walmart right? We wish...
They go on to talk about numerous cases where women were pumping in a manager's office, community conference rooms, or areas with security cameras in view. Sometimes they weren't given rooms at all and were then 'hidden' behind a bread rack where other employees or even customers could see her pumping. And even in other circumstances, women were denied breaks due to poor coverage. Sadly, many of these women didn't have a choice but comply with the measly accommodations that were provided.
Unfortunately, fighting for personal rights to breastfeed can create a hostile work environment for Mamas. In some cases, these broken relationships have cost women promotions and even their jobs. Many cannot risk this setback....
Mamas, it is important to know your rights and make sure you tell others so they are informed. Not enough employers will go out of their way to make this happen for you without your push. Again, discuss with your employer your desire to breastfeed before going on maternity leave so they fully understand why it is important to you. This way, your breast pumping wishes WILL be accommodated in regards to a suitable environment and breast pumping schedule.
There is good news! Breastfeeding rates have been slowly rising in the US and although there is still room for improvement for exclusive breastfeeding -- each and every achievement is a victory!
If you would like to learn more about what your legal rights are, check out our blog post here! If you want Nutritional and Breastfeeding support during this crucial time period, Mamas Maternal Health is here for YOU--- Fill out our online form here to join us today!
Until next time!
Mikayla and Cassie
Mamas Maternal Health Registered Dietitians/Lactation Counselors
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