Know Your Rights About Pumping At Work, Plus Tips For New Moms




Jan. 19 2024, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

Share to XShare to FacebookShare via EmailShare to LinkedIn

For working mothers who choose to breastfeed their infants, balancing the demands of a career with the commitment to providing nourishment for their babies can be a challenging task. Fortunately, various laws and regulations are in place to protect the rights of breastfeeding mothers in the workplace. 

The Federal Laws Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers

///pexels anna shvets  x

Breastfeeding at work is more than a personal right — it’s a federally protected right for new mothers in the United States. Understanding these laws can empower you to confidently nurture your baby in the workplace. Here’s the federal legislation safeguarding your breastfeeding rights:

Break Time for Nursing Mothers Provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The FLSA includes the Break Time for Nursing Mothers provision, which makes it necessary for employers to give employees breaks to pump breast milk for their nursing child for up to one year after the child’s birth. 

Employers must also provide a private space for pumping. This space can’t be a bathroom and must be shielded from colleagues and others. Employees working from home have the same rights as those working onsite.

The Provide Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) Act updated this provision to include teachers, nurses, farmworkers and many other occupations. If this act doesn’t cover your occupation, your state may have laws that protect your right to pump at work.

Article continues below advertisement

The Affordable Care Act (ACA)

The ACA amended the FLSA to extend workplace protections for nursing mothers. These protections include a requirement for employers to provide a reasonable break time and a private space for expressing breast milk. However, it’s important to note that these breaks can be unpaid, and these provisions don’t cover all employees, so understanding your eligibility is crucial. 

State Laws

In addition to federal laws, many states have enacted their own laws to support breastfeeding mothers in the workplace. Some states may provide additional protections or more generous provisions than those the federal law outlines. It’s essential for working mothers to familiarize themselves with both state and federal regulations to ensure they receive the maximum support available.

Article continues below advertisement
///pexels sarah chai  x


Tips For Working Mothers

Balancing the demands of work and looking after your little one can be difficult in the beginning. However, with the right strategies, you can successfully integrate both aspects of your life. Here are some tips to navigate the challenges and make the most of your breastfeeding journey while working.

Article continues below advertisement

1. Communicate with employers.

Prioritizing open and honest communication with your employer is key to feeling supported. Inform your supervisor or HR department in advance about your intention to pump at work, and discuss the logistics of where and when you can take breaks for pumping.

2. Create a pumping schedule.

Develop a pumping schedule that aligns with your work responsibilities. This process may involve coordinating break times with meetings or other work commitments to minimize disruption. Establishing a proper pumping schedule helps ensure you’re productive at work while maintaining a proper milk supply for your baby.

Article continues below advertisement

3. Use available resources.

Use available resources such as lactation rooms or designated pumping areas provided by your employer. Ensure these areas are comfortable, private and equipped with the necessary amenities, including a chair, table and electrical outlet.

4. Invest in a quality pump.

Consider investing in a high-quality breast pump that suits your needs. You can choose one to carry around easily and discreetly, allowing you to pump effectively and comfortably at work.

Article continues below advertisement

5. Lean on a support system.

Seek support from colleagues, friends and family members who understand and respect your commitment to breastfeeding. A supportive network can provide encouragement during tough times and result in a more positive experience. If there isn’t anyone around to provide support, you can find plenty of online communities with other mothers happy to support you and offer advice. 

Advocating For Yourself

Knowing your rights as a breastfeeding mother in the workplace is vital for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Federal and state laws are in place to protect your right to express breast milk at work, but it’s equally important to communicate effectively with your employer and make practical arrangements to ensure a smooth and supportive breastfeeding journey. 

Ambition Delivered.

Our weekly email newsletter is packed with stories that inspire, empower, and inform, all written by women for women. Sign up today and start your week off right with the insights and inspiration you need to succeed.

By: Mia Barnes

Mia Barnes is a health journalist with over 3+ years of experience specializing in workplace wellness. Mia believes knowledge is power. As the Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine, Mia's goal is to cover relevant topics to empower women through information.

Latest The Main Agenda News and Updates

    Link to InstagramLink to FacebookLink to XLinkedIn IconContact us by Email

    Opt-out of personalized ads

    Black OwnedFemale Founder