Moms in the workplace are nothing new. But navigating the unfamiliar territory of determining how, where, and for how long you are going to pump when you return to work can feel like too much to handle, especially when you’re running on about three hours of sleep. That’s why we are breaking down the legal jargon and vague language so you can stand up for yourself and your little one at your workplace. Read below to learn more about your rights as a mom pumping breast milk at work.
What Does the Law Say About Pumping at Work?
Before 2010, working moms had limited federal protection for expressing milk at work. After the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), however, moms are ensured a safe, private, and sanitary place where they can pump in the workplace. This relatively new piece of legislation requires all employers to provide a private space, “other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public” where employees can express breast milk.
Prior to this legislation, many working moms would use a breast pump in bathroom stalls, but this practice is not recommended due to the risk of contracting bacteria in your breast milk or breast pump parts. Along with ensuring you have a safe space to pump, the ACA also covers a breast pump through insurance so you don’t have to cover the cost of a breast pump on your own.
How Much Time Do I Have to Pump at Work?
Legally, there is no amount of time that is guaranteed for new moms to pump while they are at work. The language used in the ACA is vague, saying only that employers are required to offer “reasonable break time” for employees to express breast milk. This unclear language highlights the importance of talking with your employer to discuss how much time you will need to use your breast pump, safely store your expressed milk, and clean all of your breast pump parts.
The Department of Labor has also stated that breastfeeding moms are permitted to pump as often as they need to, so be sure to discuss your needs with your employer. For moms who are expecting a limited amount of time to pump while they are at the office, you may want to browse double electric breast pumps like the Ameda Finesse, Spectra 9 Plus or Medela Pump in Style Advanced, which pump breast milk more efficiently than single electric or manual breast pumps.
Where Can I Pump at Work?
Every workplace is different, but the law requires offices to have a private space, other than a bathroom, where nursing mothers can pump or breastfeed without being interrupted or seen by coworkers. Although some offices may provide a designated lactation room, other workplaces may need to convert a temporary space into an area for nursing moms. Even if you haven’t decided on whether you are going to breastfeed or use a breast pump at work, speak with your employer about potential spaces for pumping breast milk before you go on maternity leave. Reminding your boss of your need for this space several weeks ahead of time will give them more time to develop a comfortable and private space for you to pump.
Don’t be afraid to stand up for your rights as a working and breastfeeding mom. Your right to breastfeed is legally protected, and you cannot be fired or treated differently because you are breastfeeding, as stated in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If you don’t feel comfortable pumping at work, feel free to venture out of your office and find a space that feels right. Breastfeeding moms are legally protected to breastfeed in public or private locations in all 50 states, so you can find the space that works best for you.
Although it may be difficult to have a conversation about breastfeeding or pumping with your employer, you have the right to pump your breast milk in a comfortable environment to make sure your baby experiences the benefits of breast milk.
At Pumps for Mom, we are here for you through all of the ups and downs that come with breastfeeding and pumping. We may not be able to talk to your boss for you, but we can help you get a free breast pump through insurance. The experts at Pumps for Mom make it easy to browse the best breast pumps covered by insurance and select the best breast pump for you and your little one. All you have to do is fill out our simple qualification form, and you will immediately see which breast pumps are covered by your insurance and what any upgrade breast pumps would cost out-of-pocket. You’ve got enough to worry about–let Pumps for Mom take care of your insurance breast pump.