Today’s working women have never had more choices than they do now. Thanks to a combination of legislation and shifting cultural norms, the world of work have opened up for women in ways it never has before. And nowhere is that more evident than in the field of motherhood.
Unfortunately, balancing work with daily life isn’t always easy. For many working mothers, the two responsibilities can feel like they occupy opposite ends of an impossible spectrum. Many women struggle to find jobs that are both fulfilling and accommodating enough to meet their unique family needs.
Working moms who nurse must often choose between leaving the workforce or struggling to continue a career that doesn’t accommodate breastfeeding needs. That’s why we created this ultimate guide to breastfeeding and working as an indispensable resource for any professional woman juggling both responsibilities.
What does the future hold for working women?
The relationship between society and women is a complicated one, and throughout history, working women have been treated in vastly different ways in different cultures. There are examples of women being treated as equals in certain societies, only to be treated as inferior in others.
In the U.S., the relationship between women and the workforce has been ever-evolving. In the early 20th century, women were forced out of the workforce as men returned home from World War II. In the 1950s and ‘60s, many women were encouraged to leave the workforce again in an attempt to raise the nation’s low birth rate. It wasn’t until the 1970s that women began to return to the workforce in significant numbers.
The Importance of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is a time-honored practice that has been honored by multiple societies and civilizations throughout history. In the U.S., though, breastfeeding as a public practice has been met with controversy. It’s no wonder that women have met with resistance, though.
In addition to being a beloved practice, breastfeeding is also incredibly beneficial to both mother and child. For mothers, breastfeeding is a natural way to regulate hormones, lose weight after giving birth, and provide a healthy diet for their newborns. It can also help decrease the risk of ovarian and breast cancers and type 2 diabetes, among other health benefits. For babies, breastfeeding provides immunity to a host of diseases, an easy transition into solid foods down the road, and can even help with cognitive development.
What are your breastfeeding rights at work?
Most working mothers who choose to breastfeed view it as a natural extension of their maternal rights. And fortunately, the law is on their side. In fact, the federal government has passed numerous laws to protect the rights of breastfeeding mothers.
The most notable of these is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, passed in 2016. This law requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant women who experience complications related to their pregnancies. All employers are also required to provide reasonable accommodations for breastfeeding mothers as part of the federal Break Time for Nursing Mothers law passed in 2010. This law requires employers to provide time and a private space for breastfeeding women to pump breast milk during the work day.
Finding a job that accommodates breastfeeding
If you’re struggling to find a job that accommodates breastfeeding needs, it’s important to remember that you don’t need to compromise your values in the process. Finding a job that works with your unique family needs often comes down to a matter of asking the right questions during the interview process. Working moms who are breastfeeding should make their needs known during the job search. You can also use online job boards, like Milk and Honey, to find companies that are breastfeeding-friendly.
Strategies for working while breastfeeding
Whether you’re a new mom or a working mom who’s reentering the workforce after a break, you’ll likely encounter some degree of cognitive dissonance. You may find yourself having to juggle schedules and responsibilities in ways that don’t feel natural or easy, and this is totally normal. The trick is to try to find a balance that works for you and your family.
One way that working moms can ease the stress of this balancing act is by making use of workplace breastfeeding accommodations. Whether you’re taking longer maternity leave or returning to work while breastfeeding, you should talk to your employer about your individual needs.
Another way is to seek out additional support by registering for online lactating consultation. Getting help from a lactation consultant is an excellent place to start. They have specialized training and experience working with breastfeeding moms, which will allow them to spot potential issues early on and give you the tools you need to deal with them. They can also provide you with valuable advice on how to improve your milk supply and support you through any other challenges you may face. A lactation consultant can also be a great resource if you’re considering giving formula or using a breast pump later on.
Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for how to balance work and breastfeeding. Every woman and every family is different, so the best way to find a sustainable work-life balance is to create your own formula. You should never feel pressured to choose one obligation over another. Rather, you should feel empowered to make the decisions that are best for you and your family. You may need to accept that certain aspects of your life aren’t going to be easy or perfect. But working mothers who are breastfeeding can find solace in the fact that it’s worth it.