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Breastfeeding and the Workplace
September 25th, 2012 by Juliana Weiss-Roessler  Posted in In the Workplace

Breastfeeding and the WorkplaceIf you’re a working woman who has a baby, is pregnant, or plans on getting pregnant, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with how breastfeeding can work in the workplace.

Those who don’t intend to breastfeed should at least look into the research before making a final decision, because a vast number of studies show that when compared to formula, breastfeeding provides you and your little one with a many benefits, including:
  • Better protection from sickness
  • Reduced SIDS risk
  • Less chance of obesity later in life
  • Few incidences of postpartum depression for mom
  • Protection for mothers against breast and ovarian cancers
By federal law, your workplace is required to provide break time and a private spot (other than a restroom) for you to express your milk as long as your employer has 50 or more employees. Even so, a number of experts - including the Surgeon General - have said that American women have far less support than working mothers in many other countries around the world, so be prepared for the possibility that you may face resistance from your employer.

By getting a little creative and planning ahead, you can find ways to continue to breastfeed. Here are some things to try:

Make your own private space.

Just because the company doesn’t designate an area for breastfeeding doesn’t mean you can’t make your own. If you don’t have an office yourself, try to find a coworker who is willing to let you use their office or a private bathroom - just make sure to clean up afterward! Those who can’t find a space in the office may want to consider getting their car windows tinted and pumping in their vehicle.

The right pump.

If you’re going to be pumping at work, you will almost definitely want an electric breast pump because of their speed and efficiency. Check reviews for reliability, because you definitely don’t want a pump that’s going to break on you in the middle of the day. You may even want to invest in a hands-free pump. Depending on your setup, this could allow you to keep working and not lose any pay for taking time off.

Leak protection.

It’s not fun to think about it, but the fact is that breastfeeding mothers leak milk, which can be pretty embarrassing if it happens in front of your boss or coworkers. Nipple pads for your bra are a must, but it’s also probably a good idea to bring an extra blouse just in case, as well as towels and other cleaning equipment.

Find cold storage.

Breast milk will stay good for 2-6 hours at room temperatures, which isn’t long enough for most working moms. You need to find a way to keep it cool. If your coworkers are fine with having breast milk in the kitchenette fridge, go for it! If not, you probably want to see if your employers are willing to provide you with a mini-fridge for your area or look for some kind of insulated cold-storage bag.

And while you’re working on your own plan, don’t forget to educate your employers on how breastfeeding at the office is good for the company. How so? Breastfeeding mothers come back to the job faster, have higher morale, and skip less work due to doctor’s visits and medical claims because breastfed babies tend to be healthier.
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Tags: office-culture, advice, in-the-workplace
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