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Your Workplace

Employer support will be beneficial to successfully continuing breastfeeding. Discuss your plan to continue to breastfeed, and your need to pump or express breast milk during the workday, with your employer when you are pregnant or before you return to work.

Be sure your employer understands that continued breastfeeding, and providing your milk by pumping at work, are not just good for your baby--they also are good for the company. Evidence indicates that employer support for continued breastfeeding, and the breast-pumping breaks it requires, results in fewer employee absences and increased worker productivity. This makes sense when you consider that:

  • Your breastfed, or breast milk-fed, baby is less likely to develop many kinds of infectious illnesses, so you are less likely to take days off to care for a sick baby.

  • You are less likely to be distracted on the job because you had to leave a sick baby with a sitter or because you are concerned about milk production or some other breastfeeding-related issue.

  • If you are able to pump every few hours, you are less likely to develop a mastitis (breast infection)--a situation that may require that you take one or more days off work.

Let your employer know that frequent workday breast-pumping breaks do not continue indefinitely. The number will decrease during the second half of your baby's first year, as he or she develops and eats more solid foods.

Other work place issues to consider might include the following:

  • Will you be able to take breast-pumping breaks close to your baby's feeding schedule or must pumping wait for scheduled worksite breaks and lunch periods?

  • Is there a place where you may go to pump or express your breast milk privately? Fair labor standards require provision for a clean area to express your breast milk privately. Bathrooms, although private, are not an appropriate space. 

  • Is there a refrigerator to store breast milk in during the day, or do you need to bring an insulated cooler for storage?

 
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