As mentioned from my previous posts, I started pumping soon after my son was born due to latch-on issues. I was on maternity leave for 10 weeks, and when it was time to return to work, I still wanted to continue pumping. I was unsure about how my manager and the doctors I worked with felt about me taking time to pump while on clock, so before I came back from maternity leave I spoke with my manager. By law, I was allowed to pump when I needed to, but my manager who was very understanding, also consented it.
One of the problems I faced while pumping at work was having a private lactation room. I worked at a medical clinic, and you’d think there would be a lactation room, but there was not. The whole building is a medical facility, but there was not one single lactation room! So I had to make do with what I have. At first it was very hard pumping at work because, I was on a set pumping schedule at home, but at work it depends if a room is available to pump in. At first I was pumping 3 times at work, but since it was hard to find available rooms, I had to cut down to 2. Also by law, pumping in the restroom CANNOT be an option, and by my own sanitary concerns, I did not want to pump in the restroom.
For those moms who are planning to pump when you go back to work, or already back at work but struggling to find time/place/ways etc, I would recommend:
1) Researching and understanding your rights. We become such protective individuals when we have our children, and I became the type of person where my son comes first no matter what. So does his health, too. I looked up my rights, so I can always defend myself if anyone feels it is wrong for me to pump at work. Research on Section 4207 of the Affordable Care Act about your rights at the workplace for pumping.
Some of the rights covered by Section 4207 are:
- “An employer shall provide a reasonable amount of break time and a space to express milk as frequently as needed by the nursing mother, for up to one year following the birth of the employee’s child”
- The space provided by the employer cannot be a bathroom, and it must be shielded from view and free from intrusion by coworkers or the public.
- Employers are not required under the FLSA to compensate nursing mothers for breaks taken for the purpose of expressing milk. However, where employers already provide compensated breaks, an employee who uses that break time to express milk must be compensated in the same way that other employees are compensated for break time.
As part of my job, I had to go to a few training events, and travel to other offices and locations. First thing I did when I arrived, was ask the immediate supervisor where they had a private room with a plug to pump in. At first, I was too shy to ask, but to my surprise these places already had a lactation room set up!
After a couple months of working again, and getting used to pumping at work, I was able to finally set a routine. One that worked well with the schedules of the doctors and my coworkers. I had set up my private lactation room in one of the doctor’s offices right after she left for lunch around 11:00, and then after she ended her clinic around 3:40 pm. This way, I was still able to set up a schedule at work and home too.
I cannot tell you how many times, people have walked in on me while pumping! Even when I have a “Please Knock” sign! It was very horrifying and embarrassing! Our medical office did not have locks in any of the doctor or patient rooms, so I had to put a chair behind the door and sit there so that no one will walk in!