Let’s put it all on the table, shall we? We were all babies once. And among us, many of us likely were breastfed as infants. Several of you likely breastfed your infants, or have spouses/partners/friends/coworkers who did so. Bottom line, it’s pretty likely that most, if not all, of us has either nursed an infant themselves or knows someone who has.
So then why — in the name of all that’s good, legal and commonsensical — is providing lactation space and break times for nursing mothers such a foreign concept?
Some might argue that nursing mothers might feel awkward about workplace lactation. Not so, according to a recent survey by Workplace Options, that shows 51% of nursing mothers say workplace lactation does not make them feel personally uncomfortable or embarrassed.
So, is it coworkers of nursing mothers who are squeamish, and thus holding back progress? Nope, not that either, Workplace Options finds, as 90% of respondents say working with someone who pumps or nurses at work does not make them feel uncomfortable, with 53% saying workplace nursing generally goes unnoticed.
That’s great, but only makes me more perplexed that with employee support and a federal mandate to support nursing mothers, less than a third (31%) of workplaces have a private room designated for lactation, according to WO. Further, 27% of respondents’ offices provide sufficient break times for nursing mothers.
“More employers are recognizing the need for new mothers to achieve a work-life balance, but many are still behind the times,” says Dean Debnam, Workplace Options CEO. “Although Washington has passed legislation, including a new mandate that nursing mothers be permitted unpaid breaks to use breast pumps, there are still many challenges for these nursing mothers in the workplace. Cultural resistance may be waning, but enlisting proactive support from businesses is still a battle.”
So, what gives? Why such resistance to workplace supports for nursing moms? I’d like to hear from you: Does your company provide private lactation rooms and sufficient breaks for nursing mothers? If not, why not? Share your stories in the comments.
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