Breastfeeding and the Workplace
By themomsterdiaries on October 15, 2010
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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