Pumping at work can seem overwhelming. There are so many details to try to work out.
Talking to your employer about pumping is just one of them.
I am not sure there can be a more awkward conversation than trying to talk to your boss about pumping your breasts. I blush just thinking about it.
If you are like me, then, of course, you have the most unapproachable, male, no kids, middle age boss. How do you make him/her understand your needs as a nursing mother and employee??
This is a dilemma that many working mothers face. As uncomfortable as it is, it’s best to get these details hashed out before you go on maternity leave.
Here are some tips on approaching this topic so you can check off one more thing when it comes to preparing for pumping at work!
How to Talk to Your Employer About Pumping at Work
How to Prepare for the BIG Conversation
- Educate yourself on your rights as a breastfeeding employee (you can read my overview of breastfeeding laws here). This will help you know what to expect in terms of accommodations while pumping at work.
- Look around for a “Nursing Mothers” room at your office or talk to coworkers and see if any of them pumped while working there.
- Talk with your HR (Human Resources) department. Ask them about any existing policies the company has regarding nursing mothers.
- Schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss your plan when you return from maternity leave.
- Practice what you plan to say at the meeting so you feel more comfortable with the content.
Having the “Talk” with your Boss
You may be lucky and work for a company that provides a Nursing Mothers room. Easy peasy! Or not so lucky and you discovered there is no such place.
Not all companies are required to provide a place or time for nursing mother’s while pumping at work during your normal work hours. If you haven’t already, click here to see who is covered!
Or perhaps you are not covered by the ACA and therefore, have no protections for pumping breaks…
Here are some items to discuss with your boss –
- Discuss your plan for when you return to work. What to expect? Work transition plans, etc. This will help ease into the “breast” part of the conversation (wink, wink).
- Advise your boss that you plan to nurse your baby and will be pumping while at work.
- Go over the information you received from your HR department and advise him/her that you will require a private place to pump (if your company doesn’t have a dedicated room). Your boss may not be able to give you an answer now but it’s important to ensure they are aware and can be working on that while you are out on leave.
- Depending on when you plan to return to work after giving birth, you may need to pump every 2-4 hours (more often for a younger baby). Make sure you talk about this with your boss.
- Ask any other questions you may have.
What if You are NOT Covered by the ACA?
Do not stress out if you are not covered by the ACA.
Most places of employment will be happy to accommodate their nursing employees. Now if your boss/HR department comes back and says you are not able to take any additional breaks outside of the ones you are already entitled too, don’t panic.
You can make it work with some effort.
Following a strict pumping schedule and adding pumping sessions while at home will give you enough expressed milk for your baby while you are away.
Here are some additional Tips for Pumping at Work when your employer isn’t as accommodating:
- Plan to have a good portable pump in case you need to pump in your car or some other strange place. See my list of favorites, here.
- Carry a cooler for your breastmilk with ice packs. Your milk will be fine on ice for the work day if you don’t have access to a refrigerator. See a full outline of proper storage guidelines for breastmilk, here.
- Get a Pump-Store-Feed system like the Kiinde Twist. This will allow you to pump, store and feed from the same bag saving time since you will be limited on it! It is also fewer parts to wash between pumping sessions!
- Learn to Pump while you Drive! Seriously. You can learn how, here!
- Get a good hands-free pumping bra. This will help you multitask and free your hands while you pump. They are a must for all working moms! See my favorites, here!
- Get more Working and Pumping Tips, here!
This conversation may be uncomfortable for some but it is very important to hash out these details beforehand. The last thing you want to do is come back on your first day after maternity leave only to find out there is nowhere for you to pump or not be prepared to figure it out on your own.
Get it all out in the open so that you can make your transition back that much easier!
Have you had to have this discussion with your employer? Tell your story here by leaving a comment!
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