Male Lactation Story Raises Workplace Breastfeeding Concerns
Jaws dropped when a recent Huffington Post article hit the web about an American court tossing out a breastfeeding discrimination case because men can also lactate in given situations.
A female employee of a nation-wide insurance agency in the United States alleged that she did not have appropriate access to the company lactation room, and felt she was forced to resign as a result. Though many issues came into play throughout the ordeal, the one part which the media focused on was the point that men could lactate “under certain circumstances”.
The article, though sensationalist, did bring attention to one important issue, and that is breastfeeding (or pumping) in the workplace.
Many of us aren’t exactly sure where we fall in terms of the law in every situation. Are women protected by the law and able to breastfeed or at least pump at work? Are employers able to fire women based on the additional time they will need to take to pump in order to sufficiently feed her child?
Australian Employers Cannot Discriminate Against Breastfeeding Women
As an increasing number of mothers return to the workforce after giving birth, the laws and legislation continues to evolve and change to accommodate both family and work life. Fortunately, in most states here in Australia, women are entitled to have the time to breastfeed or pump to feed her baby.
How to Transition from Breastfeeding to Pumping at Work
The Australian Breastfeeding Association has provided mums with some great tips about transitioning from breastfeeding at the home to pumping at work, starting with:
Talk to your employer. Well before you return to work, talk to your employer about your desire to breastfeed and how you would need time and space to pump at work. This will help your employer create solutions to problems that can arise as a result (i.e. creating a place for you to pump that isn’t the washroom, having sufficient staff to fill your role while you pump, etc.).
If you feel that you need help, reach out to human resources, your union, or Equal Employment Opportunity Officer.
Help with the process. If you have any creative solutions to help make pumping or breastfeeding at work go smoothly, share them with your employer.
Invest in an electric pump. Efficiency is key at work for so many reasons, which makes an electric pump an essential tool for breastfeeding in the workplace.
Breastfeeding and pumping in the workplace can go smoothly and likely won’t be confrontational. If needed, remind your employer of your rights and be active in the development of solutions for any problems that may arise.
Wearing clothing that facilitates the breastfeeding and pumping process, like our Peachymama breastfeeding dresses, tops and slips, will make these times much easier – and keep you comfortable.
Whether you’re a pioneer in this landscape in your workplace or have an employer with everything set up and ready to go, follow what you know is best for both you and your bub and it’ll be a success.