Laws regarding pumping in the workplace:
- When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed in 2010 it amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to provide more support for women returning to work and wishing to continue breastfeeding (United States Department of Labor, 2015).
- Employers need to provide space other than a bathroom; that is free from intrusion and shielded from view of the public and coworkers for nonexempt (hourly) employees (United States Department of Labor, 2015).
**Legally it does not have to be a permanent space dedicated to lactation but a clean space meeting the above criteria needs to be provided.
· Moms pump in various places depending on their type of work and their schedule, some places include but are not limited to:
o Designated lactation room
o Personal car
o Empty conference room or office space (may change from day to day depending on availability)
o Empty classroom
o Cleared storage closets
o Home (for those who work from home)
· Employers must also accommodate mothers and provide “reasonable” break time in order for the mother to express breast milk until their infant is 1 year old.
Companies with less than 50 employees may file an exemption due to undue hardship but they would have to prove that the breaks the mother is taking will be a financial burden on the company (United States Department of Labor, 2015).Ways to accommodate a room if one is not specified for lactation:
o Place a curtain and rod in front of windows or in a corner to make a private space.
o Hang a sign on the door “pumping in session”
o Use a nursing cover while pumping in the car
More about Pumping and Employment can be found at Kellymom.com, a great resource with great information! http://kellymom.com/category/bf/pumpingmoms/
Has your place of work made appropriate accommodations? If you are not covered by the federal law you may be covered by state laws, contact the Lehigh Valley Breastfeeding Coalition; they can help you talk to an employer about becoming compliant at little or no cost. The coalition can speak on your behalf and work with your employer to meet FLSA standards. Visit http://www.lehighvalleybreastfeeding.com/employers to find helpful information for employers!
You can also call The US Department of Labor, Wage and Hours Division, at the toll-free WHD number 1-800-487-9243. You will be directed to your nearest office and they can help with enforcement of the “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law to make sure you are receiving the time you need to express milk.
Why is it good for your employer to support breastfeeding mothers?
- Statistically breastfed children are sick less often which means you miss less days of work. One day absences to care for sick children happen twice as often for formula fed infants.
- Women are the fastest growing division in the work force and almost ¾ of women in the work force have children under the age of three.
- Breastfeeding reduces medical costs for mother and baby.
- Supporting breastfeeding drastically increases retention rates.
- Employers are eligible for tax credits based on them having a breastfeeding friendly work environment.
Do you have a love/hate relationship with your pump? Ways to RELAX and maximize your pumping session:
· Keep a picture of your baby in your pump bag
· Keep a piece of clothing that smells like your child with you while pumping
· Have a video on your phone of your baby crying or laughing to listen to while pumping
· Listen to soothing music or distract yourself with an activity
· Use imagery, imagine yourself playing with your child or holding your child.
Tips for pumping:
· Stay hydrated!
· Eat a well-balanced diet; breastfeeding moms need an additional 300-500 calories!
· Know your flange size; a decrease in milk production could be caused by flanges that are too big or too small.
· If your nipples hurt, the pump pressure may be too high, pumping should not be painful. Some lanolin cream or oil can be applied to nipples during pumping sessions if nipples are sore.
· Wear a pumping bra or cut holes in a sports bra over the nipples to hold flanges in place so your hands will be free.
· Adjusting the pressure throughout a session can initiate another let down and increase output.
· Hand expression can often times have better results than an electric pump, if your body is not responding to the pump try some breast massage and hand expression. Video on hand expression: http://newborns.stanford.edu/Breastfeeding/HandExpression.html
Tear sheet from LLL on hand expression:
Try not to stress about the quantity that you are pumping. Breastfed babies generally eat less per feed then formula fed babies; your body will produce what your child needs (think: supply and demand). A pump is also not a good indicator of your actual supply, a well latched baby is always better than any pump. Stressing about the quantity of milk being pumped can inhibit the release of oxytocin which subsequently prevents the milk let down.
Explore the FAQ page and articles from New Beginnings, the bimonthly publication from LLL USA regarding breastfeeding and pumping at work: http://www.lalecheleague.org/nb/nbpumping.html
See the FAQ page on the LVBC website for additional sources and information regarding pumping and employment, pumping tips, and pump maintenance: http://www.lehighvalleybreastfeeding.com/faqs/pumping
Contributed by Jennifer Abdul-Rahman, LLL leader of Lehigh County
Rush, C. (2014). The benefits of workplace support for breastfeeding. 1 Million for Work Flexibility. Retrieved from http://www.workflexibility.org/benefits-of-workplace-support-for-breastfeeding/
United States Department of Labor. (2015). Break time for nursing mothers. Wage and Hour Division. Retrieved from http://www.dol.gov/whd/nursingmothers/.