Being a working mom can feel like a balancing act in which, eventually, you realize you just can't do it all. So many employers claim to be "family-friendly," or promise they'll accommodate employees' needs when they have a baby and return to work. However, in practice that usually means providing the minimum "required by law," and there are times when the law falls horrifically short. So when you have a baby and decide to pump or breastfeed during the work day, you learn there are times when an employer says they're breastfeeding "friendly" is nothing more than a big, fat lie.
Personally, the veil starting lifting when I was unable to take enough parental leave and had to return to work early. I continued to be productive at work while simultaneously attempting to breastfeed or pump throughout the day. Sure, my employer was large enough to be required to offer me parental leave, as protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act, but when I learned that I had to take part of that leave unpaid, I had to make some tough choices. It was amazing to be offered breaks for pumping, as required by the Affordable Care Act (thanks, Obama), but I couldn't always take those breaks, because my workload and schedule was too demanding.
To make matters worse, at the place where I worked when my second child was born, the designated pumping room was in another freaking building. Rather than walk outside and five minutes away to pump twice a day, I opted to put up a sign (provided by human resources) on my door. It turned out that not everyone understood the "Not" in "Do Not Disturb." I had a co-worker walk in on me, several knocked repeatedly every time I pumped, and I finally resorted to shutting off the light so people would think I was away from the office. Seriously. Don't get me wrong, though. I'm more than aware that I was far more privileged than many working parents who want to breastfeed or pump. If I was lucky, what must pumping at work be like for them?
Your mileage may vary and some employers might actually be telling the truth, but in my experience, when employers claim they are breastfeeding "friendly," it's totally is a lie. No really, a big lie. Here are some of those times: