are several options open to mothers who wish to continue breastfeeding
while working at a job that requires separation between mother and
baby for several hours a day. First, and best for both mother and
baby, is for the baby's day care provider to be located close enough
to the mother's workplace for her to breastfeed the baby directly
during regularly scheduled breaks. More and more firms are providing
on-site or nearby day care, and are finding that the benefits for
employee morale and retention make the investment worthwhile.
Second, a mother can use her break times to express her milk and
bring it to the day-care provider for feeding the following day.
If a mother chooses this option, she will need either to learn hand-expression
technique or to rent or buy a good quality double pump. She will
also need a few minutes of privacy two to three times a day. If
refrigeration is not available at the workplace, storage in a cooler
with "blue ice" is sufficient to preserve the milk until
it can be refrigerated in the evening.
Third, a mother can breastfeed her baby when they are together
and use formula when they are separated. Most mothers who try this
find that their breasts quickly adjust to the daily separation,
and that they have a sufficient supply for the evenings and weekends
if the baby is allowed frequent access to their breasts when they
Some employers may need to educated about the benefits of breastfeeding.
Medela, a company that makes high-quality breast pumps, has an educational
packet setting forth the cost savings to employers if their employees
breastfeed their babies. Visit the web site of the pump manufacturer,
Medela, or call
them at 1-800-TELL YOU for more information. The Nursing Mothers'
Association of Australia has put together a wonderful set of materials
site on educating employers about the benefits to them of their
employees breastfeeding their babies. There is also a lot of helpful
information information there about how to pump and store milk.
Many women are pleased and surprised to find their employers very
accommodating in providing a place and time to pump or feed a baby.
Often, the only reason there is no explicit policy permitting pumping
or breastfeeding during work breaks is because no-one has yet asked.
And don't forget that in some states (Florida and Texas are in the
lead on this), state law encourages employers to accommodate the
needs of their employees who are breastfeeding.
Here is a sample letter, written to the human resources manager
at a large work site, which worked: the employee's need for a private
and clean place to pump was accommodated. (*There is also
another sample letter available at ProMoM.)
Dear [Human Resources Manager],
This is a letter to express what I feel is an important issue
and to propose what I think is a viable solution. Given the number
of women who work here of child-bearing age and the lack of available
space in the building, privacy for nursing mothers presents a
Currently, there is no facility in the building appropriate
for women who need to pump breast milk. Prior to the critical
space problems, women used empty offices and put out "do
not disturb" signs. Currently, the only alternatives for
those of us without private offices are the bathrooms or locker
rooms. These facilities are not adequate or appropriate for this
purpose for the following reasons:
I propose that the company set aside one office with several private
areas partitioned off to be used by nursing mothers. This will provide
not only the obvious benefits to the new mother and the new baby,
but some distinct benefits to the company:
- Unsanitary conditions (this is food for a newborn).
- Lack of privacy (pumping is a very personal and sometimes
difficult process; quiet and privacy are absolutely necessary).
- Feasibility (you need somewhere to set up a pump, something
to hold collection bottles, a surface on which to package the
milk, and a place to sit).
To set up a basic facility, the following things would be needed:
- A breast-fed baby is a healthier baby. Healthier babies mean
fewer medical expenses, which is a tremendous financial incentive
for a self-insured company. In addition, a healthier baby means
less stay-at-home days for mom.
- An employee with fewer concerns for the welfare of her child
is more able to fully focus on her job.
- An employee with a convenient, sanitary, and private location
for pumping will have more options in scheduling her day (for
example, not having to take long lunches to drive home).
- A small room with a lock on the door and several keys to
issue to those using the room.
- Partitions or curtains to make 2 or 3 privacy areas.
- A chair and table for each privacy area.
In addition, it would be helpful to have a small sink and refrigerator
in the room, as well as an electrical outlet in each privacy area.
I hope that you will consider my proposal and see what a valuable
contribution this small change can make in the quality of life
for a significant number of our employees. I estimate that there
are probably 3 nursing women in the building at almost all times.
Another company in this area has set up an excellent facility
for nursing mothers and is leading a trend in corporate America.
[Additional examples here.] I would like to see our company stay
on the cutting edge of providing a healthy work environment and
excellent benefits for employees. I believe this would be a step
in that direction.
Please let me know if you have any questions or if this proposal
is more appropriately directed to our site management or facilities
department. I look forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely, [employee's name here]
I hope that I have given you some ideas about how to go about breastfeeding
after returning to work. If you have any other questions, contact
La Leche League
International, the Nursing Mothers Council, the National Childbirth
Trust (U.K) or the Nursing
Mothers Association of Australia . All of these organizations
have additional information about such issues as hand expressing
human milk, obtaining and using breast pumps, storing and using
expressed breastmilk, and other questions pertaining to working
and breastfeeding. If come up with a particularly creative solution
that you would like to share, please send an e-mail to me at
Formerly part of
Breastfeeding and returning