As the rate of mothers breastfeeding and working continues to rise, you’d think more working moms would know their breastfeeding rights in the workplace. It turns out, fewer than 1 in 5 of working moms know about the legal protections their companies should offer them, according to a survey conducted by the Byram Healthcare Center. They polled 1,000 working moms in America currently or recently breastfeeding with children ages two and under, and found that just 18% of them are aware of the pumping policies allotted to them. So, in honor of breastfeeding week, we’re giving all you working mommas the low-down on all your breastfeeding rights.
First of all, you’re legally entitled to a room to pump milk for a full year after giving birth. This room needs to have shades, no windows, and a lock because you’re entitled to your privacy above anything else. Other rights seem basic but are still privileges we take for granted, like access to running water and a fridge to store milk. 11% of moms didn’t even think they were entitled to that! The survey also took into account how critical pumps are to mothers trying to ease back into the workforce after maternity leave. 63% of mothers said pumps enabled their return to the workforce and 36% reported that it gave them a chance to continue advancing in their career.
“The results of this survey show us just how critical access to breastfeeding equipment and support are for moms who plan to return to work,” said Judy Manning, vice president of marketing at Byram Healthcare. “Protecting the legal rights of breastfeeding women not only shows them they are welcomed with open arms, but it levels the playing field.” In response to their survey, Byram Healthcare published a toolkit called “A Working Mom’s Guide to Breastfeeding” for new moms going back to work. It outlines three breastfeeding rights under the Affordable Care Act which include breast pumps and lactation consultant sessions covered at no cost by insurance. Additionally, employers must provide breaks for mothers to pump or express milk.
Even after knowing all of this, mothers are afraid pumping at work will hinder their career growth. Because of this, they pump during their lunch break or while making work-related phone calls, even though they’re legally granted designated time for pumping. If you know a new mom dipping her toes back into the workforce, send her this article or Byram Healthcare’s toolkit so she’ll be prepared before her first day.
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