Breastfeeding and the Workplace
by Susie Hamilton
Breast Pumps Direct
Continuing to breastfeed or supplying your baby with breast milk after returning to work can be a challenge for many mothers. Proper planning and careful organization can help to make your continued breastfeeding or pumping experience less stressful. Once you have decided that you will pump once you return to work you should begin to prepare.
Be sure to develop a strong support system of family and friends who support you in your decision to breastfeed or pump while working outside of the home. Check with your doctor to see if your Health Insurance could possibly cover the cost of your pump since you will be separated from your child during working hours. Purchase a breast pump that will suit your needs several weeks prior to returning to work. Buying your pump early will give you time to adjust to using the pump and allow you to build up a supply to store in your freezer for your baby’s feedings. Selecting a caregiver that is familiar with handling human breast milk and is used to working with nursing babies can also make this transition easier for you.
Problems that may arise at work
- Lack of privacy, no place to pump
- Unsupportive boss or co-workers
- Limited time for expression
You can avoid having to face these problems when you return to work by addressing any concerns or issues before you take maternity leave. Learning about your state’s laws concerning breastfeeding before you discussing your decision to pump at work with your boss can make the situation easier to handle as well.
If your boss is unwilling to support your decision to breastfeed or pump after you return to work you can inform him or her about how everyone will benefit from this decision. For instance, women who continue to breastfeed make fewer medical claims and are absent for doctor’s visits less because breastfed babies are healthier than infants that are formula fed. Breastfeeding mothers also tend to return to work sooner after maternity and have higher morale.
When looking for a place to pump while at work check to see if there are any empty offices or an employee lounge that can be used. Also consider what you’ll need in order to pump properly such as an electrical outlet, a sink with hot water for cleaning up afterwards, a place to store milk, or a locking door for privacy. If it is acceptable to pump at your desk you can get a Hands Free Pumping Bra so your hands are still free to work.
The La Leche League International offers several products like breastfeeding books, pamphlets, and videos that businesses can purchase to distribute to employees or to place in a newly created lactation room. If your workplace does not have a lactation room, consider talking with your boss about Establishing a Corporate Lactation Program.