Your Lactation Rights: Get the Support You Need
By Milk Stork Team on March 2, 2022
It’s on all of us to normalize breastfeeding — whether you’re a brand new parent, a parent who pumped years ago, or an ally to the parent community — speaking out and supporting one another is key for a healthy and safe future.
Now more than ever, a lack of lactation support is a growing concern as the pandemic wanes and workplaces begin to reopen.
If you’re a pumping parent heading back to the office, it’s crucial to know your lactation rights!
Currently, pumping parents in all 50 States have the right to express breast milk anywhere, at any time. To find out more information regarding laws that impact your state, read more here.
When it comes to pumping at work, you have three basic rights:
1. ONE YEAR OF PUMPING AT WORK
For one year from the time you give birth, you have the right to pump at work.
2. PUMPING “BREAKS” DURING THE WORKDAY
According to The Federal Break Time for Nursing Mothers, most employers are required to provide lactating employees with “reasonable break time” to express breast milk throughout the day. Unfortunately, they are not required to pay you for these breaks.
3. A LACTATION SPACE — THAT ISN’T A BATHROOM
Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers with 50 employees to provide a private, secure and functional space for lactation that isn’t a bathroom. If your office doesn’t currently have a pumping space set up, ask for items such as a comfortable chair, a room with a lock for privacy, a sink, a fridge to store the milk, and a working desk to make pumping at work a comfortable experience.
Struggling to get your company on board?
Fill out this form and check the following steps:
- Create a pumping task force. While most employers are required to provide the three basic lactation rights listed above — this is the bare minimum for support. Employers can and should do so much more! Enlist current and past breastfeeding and chestfeeding parents to develop lactation support recommendations and guidelines for the workplace. Very often employers want to do more, but don’t know what to do — so let’s tell ‘em!
- Have a meeting with your supervisor and team a few weeks before you return to the office. Explain your situation and set expectations for how often you will need to take a pumping break.
- Keep photos of your family and newborn on your desk to remind your colleagues that you’ve added on another role — as a new parent! If you gave birth during this pandemic year, most of your co-workers have not actually seen you pregnant.
- Encourage allies in your company to also speak up! Now is the time for employee communities to come together and ensure that the return to work is a step forward, not a step back. Coming together to share and understand each other’s needs and to advocate for benefits together will help support diversity, equity, and inclusion for all employees.
- And lastly, don’t forget to ask HR for comprehensive lactation benefits such as breast milk shipping (for travel, relocation, and gestational carriers), virtual, on-demand lactation support, access to free insurance-covered breast pumps, hospital-grade breast pumps for lactation rooms, and breast milk nutritional testing.
At Milk Stork, we provide all these services but we also recognize that it isn’t easy to speak up about lactation. With this in mind, we’ve made it convenient to anonymously ask your employer for comprehensive lactation benefits. Simply fill out this quick form and we’ll reach out to your employer with information on how to support workplace lactation and why it isn’t just good for parents, it’s good for business.
Let’s continue to take action by signing a petition to bring working moms out of bathroom stalls and into the pumping rooms they deserve! Sign it HERE!