World Breastfeeding Week: Breastfeeding and Work - Let's Make it Work!

shutterstock_15775762.jpgThis week, August 1-7, is World Breastfeeding Week, a week of awareness hosted by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Alliance. This year's theme is "Breastfeeding and Work - Let's Make it Work!" The goal behind the theme is to not only raise awareness about breastfeeding, but more specifically, breastfeeding rights and programs in the workplace. Throughout the month on the blog, we will share breastfeeding resources for families. Today, we share questions for expectant (or trying to conceive) parents to learn more about how their employer can support their breastfeeding efforts. Julee Krechel, IBCLC, Myrtle Beach lactation consultant, shares with us the top five questions to ask:


1. How many employees are employed here?

2. Do you have a policy for breastfeeding employees who need to pump?

3. Are you familiar with the law that requires you to provide break times for nursing mothers?

4. Where can I pump?

5. Do I need to clock out when I pump?

"If you're returning back to work and plan to breastfeed, it's important to start the conversation with your employer as soon as you feel comfortable sharing the news about your pregnancy," says Krechel. "Breastfeeding and work can work. It will take effort on your part, but encouraging your employer's support is critical to maintaining your breastfeeding relationship."

If your company doesn't have a breastfeeding policy, you can advocate for one! Talk with your company's human resources director, your manager, or the company president and encourage them to advocate for a breastfeeding-friendly program. They can contact a local International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) to help develop a workplace lactation program. More workplace breastfeeding support resources can be found at the United States Breastfeeding Committee and the Health Resources and Services Administration. Information specific to pumping can be found at the United States Department of Labor.

Each state has its own breastfeeding laws (or no laws at all) that are different from federal laws, and some include specific laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace. Learn more about your state laws and federal laws as you work to ready yourself for baby's arrival and your reentry back to work. To better empower yourself and protect yourself when breastfeeding, find out if your state breastfeeding coalition has breastfeeding wallet cards you can print or order. These cards provide both state and federal breastfeeding laws for clarification to anyone who may be unsure of a person's breastfeeding rights. 

If, on your journey to prepare yourself for successful breastfeeding, you find that your state is lacking in breastfeeding rights and laws, consider getting involved in your area's local breastfeeding coalition to help campaign for enhanced breastfeeding rights in the workplace. It's because of moms just like you that we've come this far with breastfeeding support in the workplace -- let's work to make it even better!

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