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Balancing Breastfeeding and Work With Ease

As a retired practical nurse , mother of three, and grandmother of two, I am a passionate breastfeeding advocate. For me , it was a no-brainer to begin this weekly awareness blog during National Breastfeeding Week! Today, I want to talk about a topic close to my heart—making breastfeeding at work more convenient for both employers and employees. Balancing work responsibilities while providing nourishment for your baby can be challenging, but with the right tools and understanding, it is entirely achievable. First and foremost, it's essential to be aware of your rights as a working and breastfeeding mom. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) ensures that employers provide basic accommodations for breastfeeding mothers[1]. This includes a private space, other than a bathroom, for expressing breast milk while at work, as well as "reasonable break time" for pumping until 12 months after the baby's birth. If you're unsure about your rights, check your state's breastfeeding laws or consult your HR representative for clarification. To prepare for pumping at work, consider investing in a quality breast pump that suits your needs. A double-electric pump is a popular choice, allowing you to pump efficiently and maintain milk supply while away from your baby. If you need the flexibility to pump on the go, a wireless, wearable pump might be a great option to consider. Remember, many health insurance providers cover the cost of breast pumps, so explore your options and take advantage of this benefit.

Practice makes perfect! Before heading back to work, start pumping sessions at home a few weeks in advance. This allows you to get the hang of it while giving your baby time to adjust to bottle feeding. It's a great way to build your confidence and ensure a smooth transition once you return to work. Introducing a bottle can also ease the balancing act of breastfeeding and work. This way, you can continue breastfeeding during your time at home and let other caregivers feed your baby with the bottle while you're at work. Don't worry; most babies can easily switch between breast and bottle without confusion. Now, let's talk about making breastfeeding at work more convenient for employers. Employers benefit from supporting breastfeeding mothers in many ways. Breastfeeding employees tend to have better attendance due to healthier babies, resulting in lower health care costs for the company.

If you're planning to talk to your employer about your milk expression needs, here are some tips:

● figure out who to talk to, ● schedule a private meeting, plan ahead with possible questions and answers ● express your appreciation for their support ● During the conversation, highlight the benefits of breastfeeding for both you and the company. ● Emphasize that breastfeeding is a healthy option for you and your baby, and it can lead to reduced absenteeism and lower healthcare expenses for the employer. ● Be clear about your needs, such as regular breaks to express milk, a private space that is not a bathroom, and access to clean, running water. ● By offering creative solutions, like using vacant offices or blocked-off areas, can demonstrate your willingness to cooperate and find mutually beneficial arrangements.

Lastly, remember that you are not alone on this journey. There are organizations that provide assistance to breastfeeding mothers, offering valuable resources and support. Some of these organizations include La Leche League International, the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), and the World Health Organization (WHO).

By creating a supportive environment for breastfeeding at work, we can empower both employers and employees to thrive. So, let's take the first step towards nurturing our babies and our careers, all while celebrating the joys of breastfeeding. What are some of the issues you have encountered while trying to balance working and breastfeeding? How did you overcome these obstacles? Feel free to comment your story below so that our community can become a supportive place for new mothers, and members of their support system!

Written by Ms Fannie Farmer RN, Retired


National Breastfeeding Awareness month

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