Breastfeeding at Work

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?