Employers and their tolerance of new mothers who pump or bf at work - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 03-12-2003, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just curious about everyones experiences w/ their employers regarding the employer accomodating you when you needed to pump or bf at work.

I have a great boss who is pretty understanding about this issue. I pump during my 2 breaks in my office, a fridge/ freezer to store the milk and have a private bathroom to wash out the parts (but no hot water).

In the same building, I know of a lady stopped bf soon after her return from maternity leave because her boss basically looked down upon it and basically indicated she couldn't use her breaks to pump. She is a legal secretary and works for a male atty. I do not know her personally, but through a mutual friend. By the time I got wind of this, she had already stopped bf and moved past this issue. I provided her w/ lots of info on how she can educate her boss about the benefits of bf for her, the employer and the child for the next child she has.

Anyway, I was just curious about how tolerant your employers were about you, bf/pumping and work. Thanks

Jenni and Helon 6/29/02
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#2 of 22 Old 03-12-2003, 02:19 PM
 
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I had a very positive bf/pumping experience at work, but I think that is an exception. I never actually talked to my boss about pumping. I figured that that is my business and it would have been really awkward to talk to him about it. I'm fortunate to have my own office, so I told my co-workers (3 women and 1 man) that if the door is closed, I am pumping and will be done in about 10-15 minutes. We also have a kitchen on our floor where I stored the milk and washed the equipment. No one usually saw me do this as it is really quiet on our floor. I pumped 2x a day for 11 months. Now I just nurse when at home. My boss didn't even know I was pumping until dd was about 8 months old. There's kind of a funny story with that:

My door was closed and he was coming to see me. He asked the secretary if I was here and she said that I was, but that I was "expressing milk" and would be out shortly. He said, "She is? How? Did she bring her daughter to work today?" The secy (who had a baby 9 months before me) looked at him and had to explain that I use a pump. He still didn't get it. "What kind of pump." She had to tell him that it was a pump that drew out milk that I stored in a bottle for dd. He turned bright red and stuttered, "What if I would have walked into her office, I have a key you know!" The secy had to laugh when he said that b/c he was sooooo flustered. She simply told him that I would have asked him to wait a minute before talking to him.

She told me this story as soon as I was done pumping. The funny thing is that my boss has never, ever mentioned the incident nor has he asked me about pumping. In fact, he avoided coming near my office for 3 weeks! He'd call me on the phone to ask me to come into his office. I think he was totally paranoid that he'd catch me pumping or something. How awesome is that?! He was totally great about that stuff (probably because he has 4 daughters of his own!).

So, all in all, it was never an issue and I didn't have a problem doing it at work. I wish everyone could have a positive experience like that. I hate to hear about women who are pressured to quit bf b.c their bosses (usually male) don't understand!!

Libby
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#3 of 22 Old 03-12-2003, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Libby, that is a hilarious story. I work w/ 20-25 people and I informed everyone of them that if I had my door closed w/ a sign that says, "Please Do Not Disturb. E-mail me if you need to speak to me. Thank you," that meant I was expressing milk. I have never had a problem w/ anyone walking in expect for a painter who was checking his work around my windows. Next time he will read the sign before walking in

Thanks for sharing.

Jenni
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#4 of 22 Old 03-12-2003, 03:29 PM
 
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i'm not working anymore, but i did go back to work when shoshanna was 10.5 months old and i quit again when she was 13.5 months old.
my husband would bring her up to the store for my dinner break and we would nurse at the beginning and end of my break. we usually used the back area, for staff only, just because it was quieter back there. i was also allotted one 10 minute break per shift and i would use those as nursing breaks as well.
never had a negative word said to me, though one male coworker and one female coworker did freak out a little bit when they went to clock in and realized i was nursing a baby nearby! i think it was just because they were so young and had never seen someone nursing before.
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#5 of 22 Old 03-12-2003, 03:53 PM
 
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My company has lactation rooms on site.. and management is very supportive.
I had to get co-workers to adjust my work assignments throughout the day though.. and that took a while. Most of them were supportive.


I pumped twice a day for 9 months.. now I am done to once a day, sometimes I don't pump at all... DS is starting to cut back on milk during the day.

My experiences pumping at work were very positive.
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#6 of 22 Old 03-12-2003, 03:56 PM
 
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I didn't have a newborn when I worked there, but I must say that the Sacramento Bee had a lovely nursing room! It was a private room, fairly large, with rocking chairs and stuff...........I saw many ladies use it (well, I saw them go in and come out, I never went in and watched, lol!). In general, the Bee is very family friendly and has super benefits for their employees.....I liked it there!

"Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen." Ralph Marston

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#7 of 22 Old 03-12-2003, 07:30 PM
 
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he would probably have a fit if he did. I just brought a small folding stool into work, put it in the ladies and put the pump on the counter twice a day and sit on the stool. All the women here know about it. Probably none of the guys do. I'm kind of left to my own devices if all my work gets done and I just make sure I put in my full allotment of hours each day. (It is only 15 min. per pumping session.)

ON the other hand, I AM in the office. If I was back out in the field, it would probably be more difficult. I would probably just lock the guys out of the construction trailer twice each day (or threaten to do it in front of them!!! Quickest way to gross out a macho guy is to expose the reality of womenhood!!!):LOL
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#8 of 22 Old 03-12-2003, 08:30 PM
 
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I am a public school teacher, so by nature m yplace of employment is very child friendly! That said, I did not have much time to pump during the day (my first break was a 15 minute recess at 10:15, and then not another break until 12:25) so that was a challenge. Also, a private place to pump was hard to come by. It was the Art classroom on Mondays, the Science classroom on Tuesdays...you get the point! At any moment, an unsuspecting parent could walk through those doors. Luckily for me, my principal was so supportive of nursing that she allowed me to pick up my son from his child care right after school let out and nurse him throughout all of our afternoon meetings! This was especially helpful as he was refusing the bottle during the day. That afternoon nursing at work saved us big time!
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#9 of 22 Old 03-12-2003, 08:32 PM
 
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I'm not pumping anymore, but I did pump for 9 months while a law student and then working full-time in the summer as a research assistant. I was pumping exclusively (moo!!).

I got lots of assistance and accomodation from school while I was pregnant, but I didn't really ask for any help about pumping, nor did the administrator in charge of accomodations ask if there was anything I needed once babelet was out.

Nonetheless it mostly worked out fine. I would just sign out a key for a library study carrel with a plug and get going. I got really sick of those windowless cubbies, though! One time near exams they were going to give me a key to a room with a big window in the door instead, so I explained that I used it to pump milk and was able to score something better.

I did find that I often put off pumping if it was at a 'bad time' (e.g. during a long class or exam) -- cumulatively, this may well have caused me to lose my supply sooner than I otherwise would have.

The one time I requested accomodation was when I was involved in an all-day simulated negotiation session. Then I explained to the (male) prof that I would need time to pump. He was totally cool with it and asked if I needed a room set up ahead of time. My male team mates thought it was a hoot and would serve as a handy 'secret weapon' to announce a pumping break every time we wanted a strategy session. So, no problems there.

I should note that lots of women have babies while at my law school and I've been in several classes where mums have been nursing. My babelet used to attend class sometimes when she was smaller and quieter, and still comes for 20 minutes or so once in a while if need be. While I was working in the summer, the individual profs I was doing research for all approved me working at home the hours I saw fit so I could be with her, so long as the work got done.

And yes, I know that when I'm actually a lawyer, I'll neverhave it this good, and that bites!!
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#10 of 22 Old 03-12-2003, 09:14 PM
 
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That's really interesting, Mammastar, that you had such good accomodations as a law student. I waited until after law school to have my dd because I couldn't imagine trying to balance law school and being a new mom. I am on my second job since I had dd. I would say both places have been rather indifferent to pumping. I informed people that I was going to pump and no one gave me a hard time about it. The first job was tough because I didn't have my own office most of the time so I had to pump in the bathroom (yuck!) but it was much better than the basement room that never got cleaned where they were originally told me I could pump. My co-workers were generally pretty understanding, although on several occasions people would see me with bottles of milk and ask me if my baby was here. I would give them a perplexed look and say "no" thinking why would I pump milk if my baby was here? Only after this happening several times did it finally occur to me that they most likely thought it was cows milk or formula!

My second job has been a bit better in that I have my own office and no one has ever interrupted me. But I've also had to do a little traveling and go to day long events where there were no pumping facilities, which has been really tough. At my last job, there were two other moms who told me they had pumped for a couple months after returning to work but gave it up because it was just too frustrating. At this job, I am the only working mother, so no one even thinks about the fact that when they send me to another city for two days I have to bring my baby so that she can nurse when I'm not working, bring my husband to watch her while I am working, stay someplace close to where I am working so that I can nurse, as there are never private pumping facilities. So it does get very complicated. All that said, my dd is 14 months and I still am pumping 2x per day to keep up my supply because her health is very important to me.
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#11 of 22 Old 03-12-2003, 10:59 PM
 
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I worked at two places when I was last breastfeeding, the first one had a library, which I used, I sat on the floor with my back against the door!
The second place expected me to do it in the bathroom!
I drove home instead to do it (15 minutes each way!)

The company I work for NOW, the same one that expected the bathroom to be used, NOW have a lactation room with a digital key pad lock - only the lactating women know the code to get in!!!

Chelly:bf
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#12 of 22 Old 03-12-2003, 11:29 PM
 
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I have never been a working mom but the last job I had while I was pregnant one of the other women gave birth and was pumping my last few months there. She was a field employee in a different department and I didn't know her really well. I think she had an adaptor and mostly pumped in her car. What was very interesting to me was that my department was setting up field appointments for her and my partner was often quite annoyed with this woman and would mutter about us 'having to bend over backwards to give her special meeting times to accomodate her pumping schedule'. My partner was a mom of three who had stayed out of the work force til her kids were in school. The new moms boss was a man who I actually found to be quite sexist in a lot of ways but was very accomodating of her schedule. You just never know who's gonna be on your side.
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#13 of 22 Old 03-13-2003, 10:58 AM
 
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I've been pumping since dd was 11 weeks old (now almost 11 months old) and my boss has been great. When I started back to work I went back for half-days for 2 weeks, then 6 hour days for 2 weeks, and then back full time. That really helped me adjust and helped keep my supply up.

There is a lactation room here at work but it's quite a hike from my office, so I use either my boss' office (she's only here 3 days a week) or an empty office we have here. There's a lounge with a fridge and a sink in my dept so I can wash everything and keep my milk cold, so I can't complain.

I was really surprised that my boss is being so flexible since she ff both her kids, but I guess the way I presented it helped my situation. I just acted like this was something that was totally normal (as it *should* be) and that them making accomodations around my schedule was normal,too. I would not have hesitated to look for another job if they had not worked with me on this, as the boss was well aware.
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#14 of 22 Old 03-13-2003, 09:22 PM
 
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I've worked at the same company through both kids. With dd#1, I worked out a deal where I could use the fitness center's dressing room to pump. By the time dd#2 came along, the company had established a designated lactation space (in the health center). So I've been very lucky both times in terms of location. Some of my friends have told me about having to use LAN rooms or electrical closets with NO LOCKS on the doors...scary!

I've worked in the same group, but with different bosses, and both have been fine about accomodating my schedule. The group as a whole is basically really cool, passing the occasional joke about me going off to the barn, but that's all...
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#15 of 22 Old 03-14-2003, 10:58 AM
 
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When I'm pumping in the ladies (which I don't mind...we really don't have any place to set up a lactation room as we're all cubicles and offices with windows, just like police stations on the tv...no one has privacy here, even the partners), I always say "welcome to the milking parlor" when someone comes in!:LOL
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#16 of 22 Old 03-14-2003, 11:29 AM
 
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When I was working and pumping the company was very accomadating I however found it much easier to just go out to my car to pump. I could sit,listen to the radio,and just veg. If I tried pumping in the fitness center I found that letdown was much harder:
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#17 of 22 Old 03-14-2003, 11:53 AM
 
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I went back to work when dd was 3 months. i pumped 3x or even 4x a day until she was 14 month or so. then slowly got down to 2, then 1, and now (she's 16.5 mnths) I rarely pump during the day.. (i just got lazy and she doesn't drink the ebm anyway, and my supply is just fine for nights/mornings/weekends)

anyway, to answer your question, my bosses were all fine with me pumping. I work for a large company, but in my dept. I am the only mom i know of that ever pumped well, there aren't many women here. I used our ladies' room - the last stall was big with an extra chair and its own sink - and our bathrooms are cleaned twice a day (and like i said, there aren't even many women on the floor) so that worked out fine. then I just used the common fridge. I've had to go on several trips. for day trips, my boss was very accomodating, he knew what I had in my small carry-on bag and even made some jokes about it. one time on the flight home my carry-on started to leak and he helped me find a plastic bag to fix the situation

I have gotten a few "how long are you going to keep that up for", but every time I said "well, something I didn't know about before dd was born, is the the World Health Organization says at least two years" so that usually ends it.

It can be tough, but I think it is so worth it!!!!
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#18 of 22 Old 03-15-2003, 05:26 AM
 
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I'm a legal assistant to a solo practitioner. he was way into me bringing dd to work with me ( I went back when she was 2 months old), but that didn't work out b/c the lawyer we share space with couldn't hack it. So i talked to my boss about needing a place to pump ( there's no room in the bathroom) and how it works is I just tell him I need to get into his office, and he vacates for me! The hardest part is getting him to get out of my desk and back into his office when I'm done! he's also not there a lot, so it's easy. We have a little fridge and I just stash the milk. the people we share space with have never had a problem with that.

My boss is pretty cool, very pro-kid. He's bummed it didn't work for dd to come with me and is super accomodating. I don't have any benefits at my job, but things like that kind of (almost) make up for it.
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#19 of 22 Old 03-15-2003, 05:33 AM
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I'm a high school teacher and I pump twice a day--on my prep (the period when I don't have students!) and at lunch.

I had to explain to fellow teachers why I wasn't eating lunch with them any more, so they wouldn't think I was just avoiding them.

I talked to a female vice-principal about pumping, and she was totally cool with it, but I haven't talked to the male members of the administration!

But one male vice-principal UNLOCKED MY DOOR at lunch one day and got a surprise! (me pumping.) He was embarrassed, left, and hasn't talked to me about it since.


At Discover Card, where I used to work before I had kids, they had a lactation room, which I thought was cool. But recently I read a newspaper report where female workers there were complaining that the room didn't have enough privacy.
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#20 of 22 Old 03-17-2003, 01:48 AM
 
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i am an office manager for a healthfood store. i went back to work when dh was only 6 weeks old. i never discussed pumping before birth - i figured i was going to do it and really didn't give a rats ass what anyone thought of it. i amde a sign with ds's picture on it that said "please don't disturb my mommy while she makes my lunch" and would hang it over the lock to my door (i work in the cash room, so my door is always locked, but my boss has a habit of walking in without knocking becuase he has a key. this happened once when i forgot to put up the sign and he hightailed it out of there turning bright red ). the only really funny think is that i actually have a camera in my office because that's where the safe is. so there are hundreds of hours of footage of me pumping . i could have found another place to pump, but i didn't really care and i'm more comfortable in my office AND i didn't need to take breaks because i used a hands free kit and kept working while i pumped. so i got to actually have my lunch break to eat lunch. oh, an i pumped until he was 18 months old, and never had a negative comment. working in the naturl foods industry helps out with that, i'm sure.
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#21 of 22 Old 03-17-2003, 02:34 AM
 
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I have my own office and my own bathroom! I also bought a fridge to put in my office. I can lock my door and pump during my planning period and at lunch. Its fantastic.

I am pretty sure my employers are fine with it but don't know because 1) I don't have to tell anyone and 2) I am still on maternity leave!

Jesse
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#22 of 22 Old 03-28-2003, 01:51 PM
 
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First time around in 1990: I worked FT in a cubicle. The only place to pump was a single toilet bathroom, which fortunately had an outlet and a chair! I pumped 3 x a day and didn't have alot of trouble. It was a union position and we were entitled to an hour lunch plus 2 15 minute breaks, so there really wasn't any way for my boss to hassle me. There were some complaints about my tying up the bathroom, but I ignored them.

Second time around Sep '02 to present: Awesome experience! I came back PT and there was a shortage of office space. My boss and HR let me have a private office even though FT folks would be in cubes just so I could pump in private and still be able to work. There is a sink 10 steps down the hall. I've had to run out of long meeting for 10 minutes to pump and no one has complained.
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