Friday, September 10, 2010

Get $300 to make your worksite nursing mom-friendly

The Utah Breastfeeding Coalition is offering Utah worksites up to $300 to set up rooms for breastfeeding employees to pump milk. The funds can be used to buy the pump, a fridge, a door lock, or furniture for the room. Just fill out and return this simple application. The deadline is Sept. 30, but apply ASAP because the funding is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.

This funding comes at an ideal time to help employers comply with one of the lesser-known components of the new health care reform law, requiring most employers to accommodate the lactation needs of the nursing moms they employ by allowing them reasonable time to pump in a private, non-bathroom environment. You can learn more about the new federal law and about state laws protecting nursing moms at  (When I went to this website, I learned that the jerks in Flagstaff who kicked me out of a movie theater for nursing were in violation of Arizona law. It is good to know your rights.)

I am a nursing mom, now nursing my third child, and I work for the health department, a very enlightened place about the merits of breastfeeding. At my worksite, private rooms, heavy duty community pumps, and paid pumping breaks are available to me to facilitate a healthy environment for me and my baby.

However, every now and then, I spend a workday away from my office for a conference or training or something and experience a glimpse of the less-enlightened outside world. I pack my not-so-heavy-duty personal pump and must seek out accommodations for this important ritual.

Such was the case this past week when I spent a day at a computer training facility. I did a training at the same place about two years ago, when I was breastfeeding my second child. During that first visit, I sheepishly asked the woman at the front desk where I could pump. She looked at me like I had just vomited on her and ordered me to go to the restroom. "Isn't there any other room I could use?" I blushingly whispered. "This is a computer training facility," she informed me, in case I hadn't noticed. "We keep computers in all the rooms." I meekly reported to the restroom. The only electrical outlet there was located directly over the only sink. I stood there with my exposed breasts reflecting in the mirror and I tried to duck whenever someone needed to wash their hands.

A few weeks later, I attended a conference at a different location, where I received a similar response from another receptionist. This time, however, another health department employee, who happens to be one of the state's greatest breastfeeding advocates, was also in attendance. When she heard about my banishment to the restroom, she took matters into her own hands and politely but firmly insisted on access to a room with a lock other than the restroom for nursing mothers at the conference.

Since that time, my approach towards seeking accommodation for nursing or pumping has changed. I am no longer embarrassed. I am proud that I am protecting both my own and my child's health. It doesn't even bother me to ask men about a place to pump any more. It is good for men to know what female breasts are actually for. I see myself as an advocate. I am not ashamed that I lactate and anyone else who is embarrassed by that or thinks I should pump in a restroom stall needs education.

As my confidence has improved, the response has improved, too. Now that the sheepishness is missing from my requests, it is very rare that they are dismissed by grouchy receptionists.  When I do get such a response, I just politely ask to speak to their manager instead.

At that same computer training center last week, I confidently requested a private room for pumping and while they had to check around to find an available room, they did find one and I was spared from another bathroom pumping experience.  I noticed that the employee who helped me happened to be pregnant, so I am sending them notice of this funding opportunity.  Maybe someday, as more employers set up designated nursing/pumping areas in compliance with the new law, and more moms gain confidence about educating the world about the need to accommodate nursing and pumping, no such scrambling will be necessary.

1 comment:

  1. Amen!!!!!!!! So tired of being banished to the bathroom to nurse.... So pleased to hear that things are changing!!!