Wednesday 3 October 2012

Finding a Place to Express Breastmilk at Work

For many families both parents going to work is a necessity and maternity pay is not 100% and doesn't last forever.  You have spen the last few months learning how to breastfeed and it has become a huge part of your life and your baby's life.  Breastfeeding will also help smooth the transition back to work because it will be an amazing way for you and your baby to get to know each other after each day at work and it will give you both time to unwind after a long day at work/nursery.  Breastfeeding is also a great way to keep you boss happy!
  • Women who are accomodated at work to express their milk show more loyalty towards their employer.
  • Women who express their milk at work have fewer days off with sick children because breastfed children have fewer childhood illnesses and recover more quickly.
Some information on this is here, and the Health and Safety Executive guidelines are here.  You may have noticed that these are only recommendations and not legal requirements but that doesn't mean that it cannot be discussed before you return to work.  Your employer is legally required to provide somewhere for you to rest when you return to work so surely there is no reason why you cannot express milk during this time of relaxation.  Now we just need to work out where you are going to express.  You might find it easier to have something in mind before you approach your human resources (you can't expect them to do all of the work LOL!).

My Dream Breastfeeding/Expressing Room

A temperature controlled room with a window that opens and a door that locks.  There is at least one comfy chair with a table nearby.  The walls are covered with great pictures to look at, maybe scenes of wonderful landscapes that where we can dream about being, and there is maybe a corkboard for me and other Mums to post pictures of our babies to help with let-down.  On the table there is a hospital grade pump for everyone to use while at work, and all I've had to do is supply my own collection kit.  In the corner is a sink to wash my equipment, a microwave to sterilize if needed, and a small fridge to keep my milk cool during the day.  A radio would be nice to distract me while pumping, and a magazine rack in the corner can be stocked by all the Mums using the room.

 I have heard rumours of such rooms existing at the NSA, The Pentagon and The Maryland DHMH.  My last employer had quite a nice facility too.  Reality is a little different though.  Someone working at a fast food restaurant would have completely different options to someone working in an office setting for instance.  Think of it as a problem solving exercise and then use it on your CV as an amazing skill "Excellent at problem solving". 

Minimum requirements - 
  • A clean, private area that isn't a bathroom/toilet.
  • A chair near an electrical outlet to plug your pump into.
  • Access to a sink to wash your equipment and a fridge to store your milk.
 So, let's get out thinking hats on, where can you find this at your place of work?

You work in an office setting - 
  • Use your own office if you do not share, you can lock the door or put a sign up so that noone disturbs you.
  • Use an empty office or a friends office at a designated time each day.
  • Use the conference room when it is available.
  • Use the tea-room at non-break times and put a sign on the door.
  • Use a divider in any of these areas where there is no designated time that you can use it by yourself.  If concerned of privacy use a nursing cover.
  • Can an unused closet be converted or cleared out so that a chair can fit in there to make it a comfortable space to pump?
You work in a retail setting - 
  • Use an unused office or use the store managers office at designated times agreed with them.
  • Use the lunch room/area when it isn't in use by others with a sign on the door.
  • Use a customer changing room nearest the power outlet for the hoover.  It should have a seat and a door that locks.  Often there is a larger room for those with families or wheelchairs.
You work in Hospitality/Restaurant - 
  • Use an unused office or use the managers office at designated times agreed with them.
  • Use an unused function room/area with a sign on the door.
  • Use an unused guest room.
  • Pump in your car with a nursing cover.
There are many more scenarios that you may have to think about such as working on the road and working at different locations each day.  Explain the benefits to your employer and work with them to find the best solution for both of you.  If electricity is an issue, you can find pumps that use a battery pack or can be plugged into your car.  You are entitled to at least a 20 minute break if you work 6 hours or more, and you do not have to remain at work during your break.  Think outside the box and keep the channels of communication open with your employer.  Good Luck!

I've mentioned previously some useful items for expressing milk at work and I'll mention them again.  If you are  planning to use a pump then I would recommend purchasing a pump from a company with integrity that adheres to the WHO code on Marketing breastmilk Substitutes - ARDO who sell a range of manual and electric pumps and accessories.

If you'd like to be able to pump hands-free then I love the hands-free pumping bra from Simple Wishes which holds the flanges in place so that you can read, text or use the telephone while pumping.

For those Mums that would like a garment that provides great support, has easy access for nursing and pumping and provides warmth and coverage for those stretch marks then a nursing vest is a great addition to your wardrobe.  Check out my range of nursing vests from Emma-Jane and Hotmilk for pregnancy and breastfeeding at BoobieMIlk.

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