Pumping at Work: What you need to know.
You just gave birth to your brand new beautiful baby and, if you are lucky, you just spent a few weeks to a few months home on maternity leave. You love breastfeeding and your supply is abundant.
You're thinking about having to go back to work and beginning the pumping process.
Okay--- we know this is a best case scenario here, and not everyone has time off for maternity leave and not everyone has a delightful breastfeeding experience. BUT, have you gotten a pump? Do you know what kind of pump to get? Will your insurance pay for it?
All great questions! The reason we are asking is because if you have not yet thought about getting your pump, it may be too late. I mean, we know its never too late, but you are definitely cutting it close here. Maternity leave or even right before giving birth is the best time to figure out the 'breast pump question'.
Some moms would rather get their pump before giving birth so that they do not have to deal with 'pump uncertainty' post partum. Others would rather wait because they don't know if they need a hospital grade or regular single use pump. (Hint: if you are confused about the different kinds of pumps, check out our blog post here that explains them all). Pump choice all depends on what you need, but at the very least---make sure to get one before going back to work!
Okay phew-- you have your pump, great! Let's continue the scene...
Your breast pump is ready to go and you have everything set for your return to work. The pump, cute little bottles you got as a baby shower present, some extra snacks to ensure you are well nourished! Everything you need...
Okay, pause again, ...
Great you have a pump! But... Do you have a place to pump when you are at work? Did you tell your boss before going for maternity leave that you were going to pump? Did you know that the majority of companies have a legal obligation to provide a space for you to pump?
Most employers won't come up to you and ask if you are planning on breastfeeding/pumping when returning to work. We wish they did, but unfortunately those dreams are not yet true. You will probably have to ask before hand and let them know what you need at work if you are planning to pu.
Okay so what are your legal rights?
Straight from the source-- your employer must provide you with:
“Reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.” as well as “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."
This could be a space that is temporarily created or converted into a space to express mik when needed. You also want to ask for somewhere with an outlet to plug the pump into and access to a fridge and sink to store milk and clean equipment.
The amount of time allotted for breastfeeding is decided State by State so you will have to figure out what your personal state covers. All companies have to follow these laws, unless they have fewer than 50 employees including both part-time and full-time employees.
Again, this is your legal right to have as a nursing mother. Most employers are accommodating, but if not, make sure they know how important breastfeeding is to you as well as how much money they will most likely save in future health care costs.
'Pumping rooms' are usually very low cost to set up so financially it should NOT be a burden to the company.
Unfortunately, not all employers currently follow these laws because many women do not know their rights--- but ALSO do not express their desires and needs ahead of time (while pregnant).
Have a discussion with your boss (preferably BEFORE leaving for maternity leave) regarding a safe location to pump upon your arrival BACK to work so you do not have to be in any way concerned when you return.
This will help ease your mind as well as keep this transition a positive experience for both employee and employer. Your employer WILL be more supportive in the long run if you make sure to be upfront about your pumping desires and give solutions to your requests.
Be confident to tell your boss/manager etc. good break times and space ideas to help meet your breastfeeding/pumping goals with your new born-- YOU deserve it.
Okay, so you are ready to go, you can ease your mind and enjoy the rest of your time with your baby before returning to work...
Take a bow, YOU DID IT!
Going back to work while breastfeeding puts a high level of stress on new moms. BUT, if you take these steps, we KNOW it will be a much easier transition. Now, again, we know that this scenario was a best case situation---
If your personal story is/was even a hair more complicated --- things could get out of hand and move downhill very quickly! You KNOW breastfeeding is the best option for your child, so it's time to make moves to secure this powerful source of nutrition!
Motherhood is stressful ENOUGH without all of this nonsense. That is why we have given you this blue print to help bridge breastfeeding with your professional career.
Mamas Maternal Health is here for you and we want YOU to succeed with your nutrition and breastfeeding goals. We are here to give you the tools you NEED and be the hand to hold and the voice to guide you into CONFIDENCE during your pregnancy and breastfeeding journey!
JOIN US today!
Until next time!
Mikayla and Cassie
Mamas Maternal Health Registered Dietitians/Lactation Counselors
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