Returning to the workforce after giving birth is a tricky transition, especially if you’re a breastfeeding mama who is going to be pumping at work.
After you’ve built up a breastmilk freezer stash and stocked up on breastmilk-boosting teas comes perhaps the biggest challenge for nursing moms working outside of the home: having “the talk” with your boss to discuss the fact that you’ll be pumping during the work day.
If you’re a first time mom, or you get the sense that your employer may not be well-versed in the needs of a breastfeeding woman, this conversation can be really. freakin’. scary. to think about. But fear not. These 3 tips will leave you feeling confident and prepared to have that initial conversation with your boss, and will help start your pumping at work journey off on the right foot.
Pumping at Work: 3 Tips for Having “The Talk” With Your Boss
1. Know Your Legal Rights
Knowledge is power, and having a working knowledge of legal protections for breastfeeding moms in the workplace will help you know what to ask for and effectively advocate for it.
You can read a full breakdown of the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law here.
Kelly Mom (a wonderful resource that should be on your breastfeeding-mom-radar if it isn’t already) has a great breakdown of the law, and what your options are if you don’t qualify under it here.
2. Create a Plan
You know what your breastfeeding needs are better than your employee ever will. Instead of “brainstorming” with your employer over what would be an ideal breast pumping situation for you, figure out what you need beforehand and then ask for it directly.
A few important things to know are:
- When you will be pumping during the work day (if you can give specifics times of day—10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m., for example—all the better)
- Where your regular pump location will be
- A workable back up pump location
3. Carefully Craft the Conversation
Just because you know your legal rights doesn’t mean you need to shove them down your employers throat right out of the starting gate. In fact, doing so will likely make things way more uncomfortable than they need to be.
Always start by giving your employer the benefit of the doubt before jumping to an assumption that they are “anti-breastfeeding” or don’t want to work with you. You may be surprised how supportive some employers are.
Propose the plan you came up with, answer any additional questions that your employer may have, and genuinely try to work together as a team to come to a solution that meets your needs and that your employer is comfortable with.
If you feel your needs aren’t being met, don’t be afraid to break out that legal knowledge to advocate for yourself. If your employer is unwilling to meet your needs, contact the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hours Division at 1-800-487-9243 for assistance.