Breaking Down Boundaries: A Comprehensive Guide To Talking To Your Employer
Returning to work after having a child is a huge transition, especially if you are nursing. Both The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend mothers breastfeed for at least six months (and longer when possible). And in order to continue breastfeeding, a woman needs to pump for 20 to 30 minutes every three to four hours while she’s away from her baby.
To fit this around an already busy work schedule is essential for you to stay healthy and continue breastfeeding your baby while doing your job. We have found that talking to your employer is key, and the earlier you do it will bring it’s rewards when you return from maternity leave.
This conversation isn’t always easy, and can be uncomfortable or embarrassing, especially if there isn’t any prior support for mothers within your company. Stay strong, do some research and remember it’s not just for you but future mothers who will need that support too.
As a breastfeeding mom, the law is on your side when it comes to asking for a place to pump at work (check your rights in your state HERE).
We hope this list will inspire you and help you to start that conversation with your employer.
KNOW WHO TO TALK TO
There are probably plenty of people you feel could help support you, but knowing who will get it done is key. If you feel human resources or a staff supervisor is more suitable than a direct manager then start the conversation there.
SCHEDULE A TIME
Make a written request / email before a face-to-face conversation about what you want to talk about, they can do their own research and it won’t seem like you are springing something upon them. Then set a time to talk privately, you want to get everything sorted, hopefully in one chat.
Know your requests, and the ways you and/or the company can be flexible about them. You will need a private, hygienic lactation space, and a certain amount of break times during the day. Know the answers to their questions, they are going to ask them. We have listed below a number of questions and answers that you might come up:
The bathroom is the only space we have available.
Breast milk is food. Is shouldn’t be expressed in a bathroom. There are plenty of other places that can be made flexible, find those spaces and put them forward to your employer. [Remember, the law requires an employer to find a space that isn’t a bathroom.]
Why do you need that many breaks, I may not be able to get cover for you?
Create a schedule for your pumping breaks, and fit other employees around this. And if there are others who need to pump, consider them too.
It is bad for business.
Employer benefits for supporting breastfeeding employees include:
Breastfeeding employees miss work less often because breastfed infants are healthier.
Breastfeeding lowers health care costs.
Breastfeeding support helps employers keep their best employees so that less money is spent hiring and training new employees.
Breastfeeding employees who are supported in the workplace report higher productivity and loyalty.
Supporting breastfeeding employees creates a positive public image.
Why do you need to pump so much?
If a mother doesn’t pump as often as their child eats, their supply will decrease and will prevent her from feeding her child.
My daughter/niece/friend drank formula, why can’t your child?
Lots of people formula feed, and it isn’t the right or wrong way to feed a child. But at the end of the day it is highly recommended that she breastfeed for her benefit and the baby’s, it is her decision to do so and she should be supported for it.
I can’t make any promises.
Be flexible, it can and does work in numerous different businesses and situations. You and your employer can come to a compromise. [Remember, the law can require an employer to provide space and break time. Know the law in your state]
You’re not the only woman who needs to pump at work, and won’t be the last. Remember that making these requests may affect those you work with, so make sure you talk to your colleagues too. and future mort will help others in the future.
ASK NICELY, AND SAY THANKS.
It may be an obvious one but asking nicely should be a given. And let them know how much this will help you and future female employees, and that their support is greatly appreciated.
It is important for you to be fully motivated and proactive at work, even if you are expressing milk. Your employer supporting you through that journey is essential, together we can reduce the corporate stigma of women breastfeeding at work.
Let us know your advice on talking to employers in the comments!
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