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How to handle nursing when returning to work

On Behalf of | Nov 9, 2022 | Family And Medical Leave Act (fmla)

Returning to work as a nursing mother can feel daunting. The CDC recommends breastfeeding for at least the first six months of your child’s life and many women choose to nurse for longer.

While breastfeeding, you cannot stop pumping for eight hours at a time. Instead, your employer must supply you with the ability to pump or nurse while at work.

Schedule time to nurse throughout the workday

According to the Office of Women’s Health, your employer has a legal obligation to make arrangements for you to express milk at work. Most women must pump around two to three times during an eight-hour work period. Try to schedule your pump sessions once every two to three hours.

If you have consistent slow periods at work, schedule your pump sessions during your downtime. Some companies may allow you to work a split shift to give you a chance to return home to nurse if necessary. Other companies may also have a policy that allows your baby to come to work for nursing.

Assert your rights as a nursing mother

While the U.S. Department of Labor advises that employers pay women for pumping breaks, they do not have to. However, the employer cannot deny you your breaks for any reason. Your need to express milk is biological and on the same level as eating and sleeping. The company must provide you with a  private space to nurse without interruptions. Employers can provide a cubical, mobile privacy screen or a locked office for nursing mothers.

Your breastmilk is human food, and your employer must allow you to handle it in a sanitary place.

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