Q: What are my options if I want to continue breastfeeding my infant when I return to work?
Returning to work or staying home with your baby is an important decision and should be thought through carefully. Consider your options. There may be job sharing, part-time, or work from home. The transition back to work may be easier if you can ease back into work or start at the end of the week. If your work place has a breastfeeding policy, there may be minimum, moderate, or maximum accommodations. Talk to other women at your workplace or your human resources department.
Q. Can I pump my breast milk while at work?
Pumping is always an option, even at home. Pumping needs to be the same frequency as you would feed your infant. Practice pumping at home first. Vacations and weekends will have you nursing more frequently and you will note an increased milk supply on the first days back to work.
Q. Can I bring equipment to work to accomplish this?
Plan ahead. Obtain small freezer cooler packs, a small cooler, comfortable fitting clothes, extra clothes, a blanket or shawl, drinks, and snacks for yourself.
Q: How long can I continue to pump or breastfeed in the work setting?
Exclusive breastfeeding is most desirable for the first 6 months of your infant's life. You will need to keep up your milk supply, through pumping or breastfeeding until then. Stay flexible and confident, you can do this.
Q: What should I expect from my boss?
You can expect a discussion of the workplace policy. You are expected to work undistracted and not disrupt the work setting. If you find your breaks aren't long enough, discuss with your employer about taking vacation or unpaid leave or extending your work day to make up for the longer break. It will be worth it to your child.
Q: What should I tell my co-workers?
Let your employer know that you plan to breastfeed before you deliver. This is also an ideal time to let co-workers know.
Q: Where do I pump my breasts?
In a private setting where you are relaxed and comfortable. If you are using an electric breast pump, you will need an electrical outlet, lighting, a space to sit - much like you would have in a break room. A door that locks or a screen for privacy is also helpful. The workplace may designate an area especially for pumping. The area may "float" or move according to space needs. Your workplace policy should clarify where you can pump or express milk discretely. The bathroom or a toilet stall is not an acceptable place.
How can I file a complaint about my rights as a working nursing mother?
If you are a nursing mother and would like to file a complaint concerning your break rights under the FLSA, Wage and Hour Division staff would benefit from additional information, such as the date of birth of your nursing child and a description of your concern (e.g., lack of reasonable time or adequate space for expressing milk while at work). Please refer to the Wage and Hour Division's Nursing Mothers Webpage to obtain additional information on this topic.