Breastfeeding for Working Moms

When Melissa Tyree, a waitress and mother of a 2-year-old and 4-month-old in Lynchburg, Va., decided to breastfeed her daughters, she knew she’d have to navigate pumping at work. And she had an all-male managerial team with whom to work out the logistics of pumping at work.

“I offered to hang up a sign with a cow on it whenever I was pumping,” she says. “But, they weren’t amused.”

Whether you work in an office or a restaurant, if you’re a breastfeeding mom in the workplace, chances are you’re going to have to deal with pumping. The good news is in March 2010, Congress added a section to the Fair Labor and Standards Act requiring businesses to provide private places other than bathrooms for working moms to express breast milk. The better news is that working moms like Tyree are finding ways to make it work.

Talk to your boss ahead of time

Tyree informed her general manager she’d need to pump about 10 minutes every three hours. Crystal Eisele is another working mom who had to tell male bosses about the need to pump milk for six months. The 31-year-old was the executive director for a nonprofit organization and sent a written request to a board meeting.

“I did not feel comfortable openly talking about it with 22 over 50-year-old men” she says. “My advice to a soon-to-be-mom is to try not to go in with preconceived notions that the whole idea is frowned upon. I would still go in prepared with your state’s laws, though.”

Figure out where to pump

Having an idea of where you might pump could be helpful to some employers. Eisele pumped in the bathroom. Tyree used an unheated stockroom and the employee bathroom.

Ellen Manning, a 29-year-old Milwaukee resident with a 2-year-old son, is expecting her second child in March.  She works as a research compliance coordinator and is lucky enough to have her own office with a locking door.

Be productive

Along with producing milk, pumping time can be productive time. Various hands-free options allow you to work, read or surf the Web to make time go faster and help you relax, which can boost your milk supply. Karyn Derby, a now stay-at-home mom of four sons, says she used hairbands around the pump cone and attached them to the hooks on the top of her nursing bra cups to pump hands-free at her university job.

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