Just talking to your boss about taking a day off can make you hesitant, but if you are breastfeeding, talking to your employer about their policies can be even more stressful. Where do you even begin? It's important that you know how to talk to your boss about more breastfeeding-friendly policies so that you can have the best of both worlds — a supportive workplace and a successful breastfeeding relationship. Honestly, the two kind of go hand-in-hand if you're a working, breastfeeding mom.
Romper spoke with Certified Lactation Consultant Danielle Spradlin from Oasis Lactation Services, who says that the proper way to approach your employer about breastfeeding or pumping is to be factual and unapologetic. “While it may be an emotional experience for you,” says Spradlin, “it is not for your employer.”
She suggests that when you talk to your boss, don’t provide personal details about your health or your baby, and remember that they aren’t doing you a favor. “You aren't asking for a special accommodation — you are giving your employer an opportunity to comply with state and federal laws.”
Because breastfeeding is a federally protected right, says Spradlin, you don’t have to ask for permission. “Women often think they have to plead their case to get permission, but people who smoke don't ask for permission to go smoke during the work day and people don't ask permission to use the toilet.” Likewise, she adds, there's no reason for it to be confrontational or to become a big deal.
Spradlin notes that many work environments already have a lactation program in place, so just asking your human resources department for details should suffice. But if you are a breastfeeding pioneer in your office, she explains, you can start with a simple email to human resources or to your supervisor before you go on maternity leave such as, "My return date will be XYZ. Which room will I be using for lactation?"
There are many resources published by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, according to Spradlin, that help new parents transition back to the workplace while continuing lactation. Keeping it simple and knowing the laws are the first steps in pioneering a new, breastfeeding-friendly environment in your workplace. And remember — this isn't a privilege. It's your right.