Breastfeeding at Work
Having the support of your employer will be important to successfully continue breastfeeding. Discuss your plan to continue to breastfeed with your employer when you are pregnant or before you return to work. Also let your employer know that you will need to pump (express) breastmilk during the workday.
Be sure your employer understands that continued breastfeeding and pumping at work are not just good for your baby—they also are good for the company. Evidence shows that employer support for continued breastfeeding, and the breast-pumping breaks it requires, results in fewer employee absences and increased worker productivity. This makes sense when you consider that:
Your breastfed, or breastmilk-fed, baby is less likely to develop many kinds of infectious illnesses, so you are less likely to take days off to care for a sick baby.
You are less likely to be distracted on the job because you had to leave a sick baby with a sitter. Or because you are concerned about milk production or some other breastfeeding-related issue.
If you are able to pump every few hours, you are less likely to develop mastitis (breast infection). This is a situation that may require that you take one or more days off work.
Let your employer know that frequent workday breast-pumping breaks do not continue indefinitely. The number will decrease during the second half of your baby's first year, as he or she develops and eats more solid foods.
Other work place issues to consider might include:
Will you be able to take breast-pumping breaks close to your baby's feeding schedule? Or must pumping wait for scheduled worksite breaks and lunch periods?
Is there a place where you may go to pump or express your breastmilk in private? Fair labor standards require that your employer provide you with a clean area to express your breastmilk in private. Bathrooms are private, but they are not an appropriate space.
Is there a refrigerator to store breastmilk in during the day? Or do you need to bring an insulated cooler for storage?