Breastfeeding at Work
Having your employer’s support will be important to successfully continue breastfeeding. Talk with your employer when you are pregnant or before you return to work about your plan to keep breastfeeding. Also let your employer know that you will need to pump (express) breastmilk during the workday.
Be sure your employer understands that 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 breastfeeding and the breast-pumping breaks it calls for result in fewer employee absences and greater 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 worried about milk production or some other breastfeeding issue.
If you are able to pump every few hours, you are less likely to develop a breast infection (mastitis). This is a health problem that may require you to take one or more days off work.
Let your employer know that frequent workday breast-pumping breaks don’t last forever. The number will drop during the second half of your baby’s first year, as they develop and eat more solid foods.
Other workplace issues to think about are:
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?
Is there a place where you may go to pump or express your breastmilk in private? Do you have access to clean, running water? Fair labor standards require that your employer give you 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?