While the U.S. still has a long way to go to make employment breastfeeding-friendly for all babes, there has been some great progress recently, and more women are getting into the working and pumping groove. Who knows, some day soon, the water cooler may be eclipsed by the lactation lounge as the ultimate hang-out! For expecting babes who are planning to go back to work, we’ve put together our top tips. Leave your suggestions & fave resources in the comments so we can improve this guide!
1) Read a short overview: In The Top 5 Questions on Going Back to Work and Breastfeeding, expert Kirsten Berggren, PhD, RN, IBCLC covers the basics: how to talk to your boss, how often to pump and how much milk to leave, and working with your childcare provider, with great links. For more info, see www.workandpump.com.
2) Know your legal rights. Under the Affordable Care Act, FLSA non-exempt employees (check your pay stub to confirm your status) are entitled to a private, clean, non-bathroom place to pump, and reasonable (although unpaid) break time. This law was signed into effect on March 23rd 2010 and establishes the minimum coverage nation-wide; it does not pre-empt your state laws if they provide even better employment protection. This law goes for moms who are pumping for babies up to one year of age. All companies are expected to comply, but companies with less than 50 employees can apply for exemption if they can prove that the application of the law causes undue hardship. To better understand “reasonable break time,” see our article by Kori Martin, JD, LLLL.
- State Laws on Breastfeeding: a comprehensive list describing the laws are in each state; if your state law provides better protection than the national minimum, it prevails.
- Frequently Asked Questions on Break Time for Nursing Mothers: developed by the United States Breastfeeding Committee, this excellent resource answers most common questions and is good link for you and your employer.
3) Become a pumping expert: There are lots of great resources on going back to work and pumping, one of our favorites is www.workandpump.com. Many other websites and resources are searchable for working and pumping, try www.kellymom.com and www.llli.org. We recommend you breast- and bottle-feed for maximum benefits, you may want to send a link to How to Bottle-feed as you’d Breastfeed to any caregivers. Rent or buy a top-notch pump: your boobs and your baby will thank you! Consider one that is certified as multi-user so you can re-sell or recycle.
4) Read a great book : Our favorites are Milk Memos: How Real Moms Learned to Mix Business with Babies and You Can, Too by Cate Colburn-Smith and Andrea Serrette; Working Without Weaning by Kirsten Berggren; and The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk, by Diana West and Lisa Marasco. You won’t feel alone, and you will feel empowered and mighty.
5) Find a support group, meet other moms and take ACTION: Connecting with other moms at your job (or if you’re solo, online or through other mothering groups) can save your sanity and sense of humor. Get inspired by success stories like Juanita Ingraham’s, or how New Moms Love the Capitol ‘Boob Cube’–a bi-partisan pumping place! Then, take action to pave the way for other moms: Use this easy form from the United States Breastfeeding Committee to tell your congressperson to co-sponsor the Breastfeeding Promotion Act and end discrimination in the workplace, and allow ALL employees to take breaks to pump in a private place!
More Reading & Other links:
- The United States Breastfeeding Committee works actively to bring about policy change in breastfeeding & employment. Take a few seconds to tell your congressperson that ALL breastfeeding moms deserve breaktime and a private place to pump, and should not be discriminated against.
- The Business Case for Breastfeeding - Prepared by womenshealth.gov, this is a fantastic kit (with handouts) to help your company to start a lactation program.
- Insurance companies are now mandated to cover breast pumps and lactation support under the Affordable Care Act, effective August 1, 2012.
- Lactation and the Law, Revisted: A great Mothering.com update on the laws around breastfeeding in public and at work, by one of the leading experts in the field, Jake Aryeh Marcus, JD.
This blog is part of the #HERvotes jobs blog carnival.
Also posted at Best for Babes.