Talk to Your Employer About Pumping at Work
Get tips for talking with your employer about pumping at work.
Going back to work and leaving your baby is hard. To make it a little easier, talk to your employer about your milk expression needs—before you go on maternity leave. It's your chance to come up with a plan that will allow you to keep giving your baby breast milk. (These tips may also help you plan for breastfeeding when going back to school.)
It's okay to feel nervous about having this talk. But remember, employers benefit from breastfeeding, too. If workplace policies aren't already in place, it's probably because no one has ever needed them before. By speaking up, you'll be helping other new moms, too.
WIC breastfeeding staff can offer guidance on how to keep breastfeeding when going back to work.
Planning the Meeting
Follow these steps to talk to your employer.
- Figure out who to talk to. A human resources director or staff manager may be the right person to talk to in some workplaces, rather than a direct supervisor.
- Schedule a time to talk. Ask your employer if you can set aside time to talk privately. This ensures you'll have their full attention when you chat.
- Plan ahead. Try to anticipate some questions your employer may have ahead of time, such as how long you'll need for breaks. Then come prepared with answers. It might also be helpful to write your thoughts down ahead of time and bring them with you.
- Say thanks. It might seem obvious, but let your employer know that you appreciate their support.
What to Talk About
When you're talking with your employer about breastfeeding, it's a good idea to say why you want to breastfeed, how it benefits your employer, and what your needs are. You may also want to be prepared to talk about your legal rights to breastfeed.
Why You Want to Breastfeed
You may want to share that breastfeeding is a healthy option for you and your baby. You can even say that your doctor recommends you breastfeed.
How Breastfeeding Benefits Your Employer
Tell your employer that they benefit, too! For example, breastfeeding employees may miss work less often because their babies are healthy. It also may lower health care costs because moms and babies are healthier.
What Your Needs Are
Help your employer understand your needs, such as:
- Time to express milk at regular intervals throughout the day.
- A private space to pump that is not a bathroom.
- Access to clean, running water.
Let them know you won't take time beyond what you need. Whether your time spent expressing milk is paid or unpaid, you can offer to make it up. And when it comes to finding a place to pump, offer creative solutions, such as offices, areas that can be blocked off, storage closets, or even your car with window coverings.
For more ideas, visit Supporting Nursing Moms at Work: Employer Solutions. This website comes from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office on Women's Health. It gives examples of how different employers and employees have made pumping at work possible.
While you can get great ideas from this resource, you should share it with your employer, too. They can find information that will help them meet their employees' needs.
Making It Work
Returning to work can be a challenge in your breastfeeding journey. But with the support of your employer and a good breast pump, you can make it work. Ask your WIC peer counselor for tips on how she continued to breastfeed after returning to work. Remember, both you and your employer win if you can express milk at work.