Nursing Moms at Work

There may be some good news for nursing moms at work in the coming months. A recently proposed federal regulation would require employers to provide adequate time and space for breastfeeding moms to pump during work hours.  The aim is to support new moms who return to work as they continue to breastfeed and provide the best first food nutrition for their babies.

The regulation was issued by the Department of Labor and covers overtime pay and rights for nursing moms, both of which could benefit breastfeeding moms who return to work. The overtime potion of the rule would institute higher salaries or increased hourly compensation for employers – including working moms – who work overtime. And the regulation would require employers to give new moms break time to pump during their work day and a clean space to pump other than a bathroom. Big improvements!

Nursing Moms at WorkUnfortunately the overtime and pumping rules are currently in limbo based on backlash from businesses and states that oppose it and feel the Department of Labor has overstepped their jurisdiction. A federal judge postponed ruling on the matter as of now and with a new administration taking office in January, the regulation may never come to fruition.

Hopefully these strides for employees and working moms will take effect as people with various political views support higher wages and healthy choices for families. These employment rules have been modified and expanded several times over the 80 years since they were instituted under administrations of both political parties.

Breastfeeding moms have already seen substantial improvements in governmental support in recent years. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act most insurance policies provide lactation support for new moms and many offer free breast pumps or breast pump rentals. This focus on breastfeeding is encouraging for families everywhere that value breastfeeding as the healthiest choice for their babies. Statistics show that breastfed babies are healthier, requiring less workplace absences from parents caring for sick children and less of a financial toll on health insurance.

Where regulations are lacking is paid maternity leave. Some companies offer paid time off after having a baby but others do not. When mothers don’t have adequate time off to heal, bond with their babies, and establish a strong breastfeeding routine, they are less likely to continue exclusive breastfeeding for the recommended six months and beyond. Mothers often cite their return to work or lack of support from their employers as the reason for terminating breastfeeding.

Should the regulation proceed, this would be a major win for nursing moms at work across the country! Our hope is that breastfeeding moms who return to work get the support they need in every aspect of their lives, including in the workplace.

Sources: The Huffington Post