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Worksite Health

Breastfeeding at work

06/21/2012

Question:

I have recently returned to work and have decided to keep breastfeeding. I have been trying to pump at work, but there really isn`t a place to do it. I work in a cube and the ladies room doesn`t have any seating (beyond the obvious). What would be the most effective way of approaching my employer about creating a space for me to pump? I`d like to be able to explain it in a way that makes them want to do it, show them the benefits to doing this.

Answer:

Returning to work following the birth of a baby represents a major time of transition. Continuing to breastfeed while at work is one great way to maintain a "connection" to your child even though you are not directly in their presence as often. Many mothers report that pumping while at work is quite satisfying and helps them feel better about being back on the job.

Although many work places have established formal lactation spaces, there are still many that have not identified any good location for mothers to pump. The ladies restroom is frequently considered first as an option. If that space is large enough, it may be possible to create a small "lounge" space for a chair, table and privacy curtain to facilitate easier and more comfortable pumping. Access to an electrical outlet is also important. If there is no room available for that type of setup, it might be possible to identify an unused office or other smaller space that could be used for pumping purposes. Many women feel most comfortable in that type of space if there is a lock on the door and no windows or window coverings. Speaking to your manager or Human Resources (HR) representative may be helpful once you have identified a suitable location.

Compiling information on the benefits of breastmilk for infants would give you great material to share with your manager or HR when you propose the idea of creating a pumping space. Look at that type of information on NetWellness as well as the related information on pumping spaces. It can actually be quite inexpensive to set up a pumping space that would greatly enhance the work place for new mothers who are breastfeeding.

You might also mention some of the published studies which report a return on investment for worksites that create lactation rooms. Share that your baby should be ill less often due to breastfeeding and that should translate into you being present at work more often rather than having higher absenteeism when your child is ill. One last suggestion is to obtain the current breastfeeding laws present in your state. You can so by going to Breastfeeding: Federal Legislation.

Finally, it might be helpful to find out if any other nearby worksites, or competitors to your company, have pumping rooms. Sometimes that information is enough to create "buy in" for a new pumping room.

I encourage you to continue pumping due to the numerous benefits for yourself and your baby. Your child will experience those benefits for many years to come!

For more information:

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Response by:

Elizabeth R Click, ND, RN, CWP Elizabeth R Click, ND, RN, CWP
Assistant Professor of Nursing and Medical Director
Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing
Case Western Reserve University