If you're a new mom going back to work, there are now laws in place to protect you. Under President Obama's Affordable Healthcare Act, a company with more than 50 people is required to provide non-exempt (hourly) moms a private place to pump that's not a bathroom. She's also allowed to take as many unpaid breaks as needed to pump during baby's first year of life. More information is available on the Department of Labor's website.
Notice that the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law only applies to non-exempt employees. This covers many women, but not all. People who receive a salary, like teachers, are not covered by this law. While most teachers I know are given the time needed to pump, there are others that resort to pumping in their car or bathrooms. Imagine making a sandwich in the bathroom, with people peeing and pooping next to you. Pretty damn gross.
Related: The ACA also covers breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling!
The Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2011 was introduced in both houses of Congress last year. Passing this act would mean federal protection would extend to those employees that are exempt, including teachers. Please write your local representatives and urge them to sign it. The US Breastfeeding Committee has made it really easy. Enter your zip code and automatically email your representatives. I'm not even going to talk about the lack of paid maternity leave. It kinda speaks for itself...
It's really important to ensure that breastfeeding moms are supported at work. Earlier this year, a Texas mom was fired after asking for a room to pump milk. The US also ranks last in breastfeeding support, according to Save the Children's State of the World’s Mothers Report 2012, released earlier this year.
While there have been measures taken to help support a breastfeeding moms in the workplace, there is still a long way to go! If you're interested in speaking to your employer about setting up a nursing room or supporting breastfeeding moms, start by reading The Business Case for Breastfeeding. It's a program "designed to educate employers about the value of supporting breastfeeding employees in the workplace."
Has your employer been supportive of you pumping at work?
Interested in more of my posts about work and breastfeeding? Click here.