This is something I constantly told myself upon returning to work after my maternity leave. I just thought it would be so much easier. I felt like a burden to my clients and co-workers, and was embarrassed to say, “Wait, I need to stop somewhere and pump!” Yes, I had to “stop” somewhere. Being a case manager, I was always on the road, so many times I was pumping in my car in a fast food parking lot!
I distinctly remember going to a meeting at our Indianapolis office and having to find a place to pump. I was told to use someone’s office (who wasn’t supposed to be there that day). I used a hands free pumping bra, which meant that I basically had to take my shirt and everything off. This particular time I decided to call my husband (since I barely had time to talk to him anyway) and during my conversation with him and my intense pumping session, someone walks in on me. Now, I know it was my fault for not putting a sign on the door (as if I wanted to advertise “PUMPING BREAST MILK: DO NOT ENTER”). However, the person that walked in proceeded to raise her voice at me and make it known that I should not be in that office because the employee had to use it NOW.
This incident occurred over one year ago, but it is still at the forefront in my memory… I was really shocked and hurt by this. So shocked that I did not say anything to my employer, I just stopped pumping and got out of the office as soon as possible. I wish I would have spoken up for myself… Below are some reasons why you should learn from my mistake and tell your employer to “F-Off!”
3 Reasons Why You Should Tell Your Employer to “F-Off” When it Comes to Your Pumping Sessions
- Breastfeeding is your personal choice. NO ONE can tell you what to do with your body. If breastfeeding is what works best for you and your baby, it is your priority. Make sure to voice this priority to your supervisors, co-workers, and clients… NEVER feel ashamed of this wonderful choice!
- Balancing breastfeeding, parenting, work, and every other aspect of your life is difficult as it is. Don’t let someone make you feel like you are doing the wrong thing. Show your boss and co-workers that you can balance this part of your life. Prove to them that you are a SUPER MOM who can fit pumping sessions into your workday. Be confident and speak up!
- It is the law! The federal law states that any organization with 50+ employees must provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.” This law goes on to state that employers must supply a private room for nursing mothers (other than a bathroom) to express their milk. See the federal law here.
**Note that state laws on break time for nursing mothers may differ, therefore trump the federal law as long as they are “more lenient.” For example, in my state (Indiana), the law defines that these breaks should be paid and the employer should provide a refrigerator, if possible. See the specific state laws here.
I know I wish I would have told my employers to “F-Off,” as breastfeeding was a very important part of my life and being able to provide that for my child was my PRIORITY.
Bottom line is, make sure you have your priorities in line and don’t be afraid to voice them. You are the only person that can tell you what you can and cannot do with your body – if breastfeeding is what is right for you and your child, then your employer should be right there on board with you. Also, don’t settle for improper pumping accommodations at work. Know the laws, and if needed, remind your employer of these laws!