breastfeeding at work

I am a new mom to a son born 2 months ago. I have been on a medical leave because of being pregnant and having a c-section, since October 2009. I’m scheduled to return to work this Monday, April 26th.
I have been breastfeeding my son since day one and in a perfect world, I would want to breastfeed until he’s a year old. I’ve racked my brain trying to figure out a way I could pump breast milk while at work, but due to how my job is scheduled, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it’s just not possible to continue breastfeeding once I’m back at work.
I found out today that the Health Care Reform Act, section 4207 supports breastfeeding in the workplace. Upon further reading, I find that I am eligible for this and quoted from usbreastfeeding.org:

“The law was effective immediately upon President Obama’s signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, however, the rules for enforcement have not yet been put in place. Breastfeeding employees should be assured that the Department of Labor is working swiftly to establish these rules, and should give their employers time to comply once those rules take effect.”

Any woman who had breastfed knows that the more you feed or pump, the more milk you produce. If the rules aren’t yet established, can my workplace refuse to allow me time during my shift to pump milk? If I wait until all the rules are put into place I fear my milk will dry up and it will be too late.
I don’t expect my workplace to provide all the provisions the act lists at this time. I just need a private place to pump and store milk.

What state are you in? There may be relevant state laws that already apply to you.

http://www.llli.org/llleaderweb/LV/LVJunJul05p51.html
Scroll down to “Workplace Accomodations” for info on currently enacted state laws.

Have you asked your work if they’ll accommodate you yet, or are you assuming they won’t? I’m not trying to be snarky - I’m asking because I at first assumed my work wouldn’t accommodate me, then I realized how important breastfeeding was to me, so I asked, and it turns out they didn’t have a spot, but created a place for me to pump. Sure, it’s a converted janitor’s closet, but it’s private.

Anyway, what sort of company do you work in? Is it possible that they already have rules in place to accommodate you? In any case, I would have a talk with HR - if they’re a decent company, they should be willing to hook you up regardless of the recently-enacted health reform.

I’m in Michigan and the only law they have is in regards to breastfeeding in public not being nudity. Nothing about the workplace.
I work at one of the automotive companies and they have provisions for salaried workers but none for hourly employees (me). I work on an assembly line and they would need to replace me on my job each time I left the line to pump. Which, according to what I read, might be 30 minutes for every 4 hours of work.
I haven’t started back to work yet and I haven’t asked, but knowing how things are run in my plant I’m expecting them to make it very difficult for me to be able to do this. I’ve already run off copies of the Health Reform Act and the other details in my favor, but I’m expecting some resistance.
Like you, Overlyverbose, I just want a little hole in the wall and some time to pump. Do I have a right to force the issue or do I have to wait until they get things in order and in the meanwhile dry up like a prune?
And like you, breastfeeding is hugely important to me.

Get in touch with your local La Leche League chapter. They will have lots of resources and info for you, including tips and tricks for working while nursing. I know some folks think LLL has a negative reputation, but I honestly believe they just want to help. Treat 'em cafeteria style: take what you like, leave the rest.

But definitely arm yourself with information and knowledge about your rights before you try to go back to work, and don’t wait until your first day back before you try to figure out how your needs can be accommodated. Good luck!

I’m in TN and my friend was told to pump in the bathroom and they’d take it out of her lunch break time. She contacted LLL and I don’t know exactly what happened but suddenly her boss provided an empty office and extra time in addition to her lunch break.

Second the advice to contact La Leche League. They can be very helpful advocates. It seems to me that if the employer has provisions to accommodate salaried workers, they ought to have provisions for hourly employees. Hopefully, they afford you with a clean, comfortable environment to pump in. IMHO, bathrooms are gross and not for handling/preparing food.

One reason is that Tennessee is a state that has a law specifically requiring employers to provide a time & place, not in a bathroom, to breast pump. What they were proposing was illegal there.

OP, if you are unionized, speak with your Union rep. I would also speak with an attorney specializing in employment law to get your ducks in a row in case they decide to act against you. A letter stating the legal basis for their obligation to honor your request could possibly head off a negative action. The federal law is effective immediately, but you are risking something in pressing the issue. Should they fire you illegally, you’re still fired. You could sue them, but any remedy would probably take years to get.

Side bar here.
If you are breast feeding and pumping milk consider locating a local Mother’s Milk Bank. If you have some extra milk it can save another’s baby’s life.

Tough decision. One thing that might help is that at 6 months old, your baby might be eating enough solids that you can get by without pumping (much) during the day. Then the minute you get home, you have a nice long nursing session. Maybe one where you and baby lie down together and you relax and destress. Then pump immediately afterward, and once more during the evening (also after a nursing session). Basically, time-shift your milk production a bit.

You might be able to pump at lunchtime. If your supply is good, you don’t have to stress too much about exactly 4 hour intervals (or whatever). Ask if there’s a place you could go to do the pumping, and eat with one hand while pumping with the other.

Do you have a good pump? Not some little 30 dollar cheapo thing that works barely, but a good-quality double pump that can suck you dry in 20 minutes?

If you do eliminate the daytime pumping, be warned that the first day or so, your boobs will hurt, and possibly leak a bit.

I hope you can find a solution to your workplace issues, but if it is impossible or inpractical to pump at work, remember that breastfeeding is not an all or nothing thing. You can nurse them when they are with you and they can get formula while they are away. My kids ended up on a “reversed cycling” schedule, where they nursed more at night than during the day, not great if you love uninterrupted sleep, but keeps up your supply. This system worked for both my sons who also both happily drank “mommy milk” to almost age 4!