Breastfeeding and the Workplace

It is always an interesting experience for any new parent to return to work after being off on maternity leave.  There are a variety of challenges, but in my own opinion, none quite as delicate as figuring out how to feed your baby while at work. I do not want to get into a debate of breastfeeding vs. formula feeding .  That is a completely personal decision and I am just doing what I think is best for my child. But bringing up the topic of a good “ pumping station” to your employer, can be tricky

As stated in another Mommy blog by  Katrina Alcorn , the indignity of pumping at work in a public place like the bathroom or a converted closet, etc is rough and not very accepting.  Even women who work in states that have laws where employers are legally obligated to provide a private pumping station, face problems with their employer. 

Now I am not so focused on the indignity or embarrassment of pumping at work. Like I state in one of my earlier blog posts, after going through labor and everyone looking and working in your private areas – well, let’s just say that I no longer have a lot of privacy issues.  My concern was getting someplace that was relatively clean and hygienic. 

I am obviously a woefully naïve individual, because when I returned to work and asked our facilities manager to have a blind installed in my office window (as many other employees do) I just figured it would be a relatively simple request.  Wrong!  I was actually questioned on the purpose.  Then when I replied, “I just returned from maternity leave and am a new mom..” Silly me, I thought they would get the hint since women have been breastfeeding their children seemingly since the beginning of time.  WRONG AGAIN!  I basically had to spell it out, and then the gentleman told me that I would have to take that up with the CEO of our company.  I did, and thankfully there was no major issue there.  Instead, the main issue resided with other male employees all wondering why I needed a blind in my office  window.  “Who really cares?!” was the thought rushing through my mind, along with “Can’t people figure this out?!” 

Long story short -people finally let it go - thanks to what I believe was some subtle and not-so-subtle comments from me.  Yes, saying out loud to one particularly annoying co-worker: “I have to feed my kid somehow” may have been one of those not-so-subtle hints, but come on.  I’ll admit I was sick of hearing about the stupid blind and all of the off-hand comments about how I could feed my son formula while away at work, and then worry about nursing in the privacy of my own home.  It’s my choice.    I am thankful that I didn’t need to bring up our state law regarding private designated areas for breastfeeding moms. I’ve  figured out how to manage the delicate balance  of pumping and working around 4 hour work meeting, public presentations, and people constantly knocking on my door  so all involved parties are happy.  Unfortunately, some women in the workplace are not as lucky as I am.  So feel free to vent here and together as parents, maybe we can all work towards a better understanding and acceptance of breastfeeding while being a working mothe

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