With coronavirus still spreading, many moms are still working remotely from home. They’re managing full-time work expectations and the needs of their children. Depending on your children’s ages, this could be going ok or it’s completely insane and you’re barely holding it together.
Breastfeeding a baby while working from home is a whole new set of challenges when it comes to timing and a baby’s needs. When a baby wants to eat, that baby needs to eat. Many babies also nurse to get to sleep or just for comfort, and of course, they just want to be held sometimes.
If you’re now working from home, it makes sense to want to be doing those things as mom. If baby is no longer at daycare, baby is with you and now you feed 100% of the time and that includes during your work hours.
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We’ve seen stories of women being reprimanded for breastfeeding while in video calls or having to deal with complaints from co-workers. We spoke with Jennifer Jordan, Director of Mom & Baby at Aeroflow Breastpumps who spoke with us about moms managing work alongside nursing their babies. Keep reading for her expert tips and assurance that this is really hard!
Moms (M): Since more moms are working from home, has breastfeeding been significantly affected? Are more moms pumping more? What have you seen?
Jennifer Jordan (JJ): From what we are seeing, working from home has made it easier for pregnant and nursing mothers to pursue the task of ordering their breast pump through insurance. Additionally, recent studies have shown that approximately 40% of women indicate an increased commitment to providing breast milk to their babies and 25% are breastfeeding or pumping more now than prior to the virus.
M: What rights does a woman have to breastfeed while working at home?
JJ: According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers must provide reasonable break time for mothers to express breast milk for their infant up to one year after birth. They must also provide a private space free from the intrusion of coworkers or the public.
The recent shift to remote work certainly makes it easier for new moms to find an adequate space to nurse or pump, but they will still need to protect time in their schedule each day in order to do so. Whether at home or in the office, breastfeeding mothers need support from their employers to help them meet their goals.
M: What should they do if a video meeting coincides with their babies’ feeding schedule?
JJ: This is a personal choice that each mother should make based on her own comfort level. Whether she chooses to handle feeding during the meeting or requests to reschedule, the support and understanding of her colleagues is essential. We find that some moms block time on their calendar each day in order to maintain their baby’s feeding schedule. This can be helpful in avoiding interruptions and scheduling conflicts.
My advice to breastfeeding mothers is to be proactive in talking with their employer about any changes to their breastfeeding or pumping needs. This will help them to properly support your transition to working remotely.
M: What should the boss or manager of a breastfeeding woman know?
JJ: Employers, managers, and co-workers are all responsible for creating a supportive environment for breastfeeding women in their organization.
Research clearly indicates that because breastfeeding can lead to better health outcomes for both mom and baby, those who support nursing moms will reap benefits as well. Employers who provide accommodations to nursing and pumping women see reduced healthcare costs, improved company culture and morale, and increased retention rates.
M: Do you think moms should avoid breastfeeding in video calls?
JJ: It is important to remember that most of us have been pushed to live and work in such new and unfamiliar ways since the start of this pandemic. Many of us are now home with our kids, learning to work, and parent all at the same time.
Breastfeeding when your baby is hungry, in public or at home, is a right that is legally protected in all states. We should foster environments that welcome and encourage breastfeeding and overall aim to make new mothers feel supported.
M: What should a breastfeeding mom do if someone complains or feels uneasy with her breastfeeding during a zoom meeting?
JJ: Nourishing your child in a way that works best for you and your family is more than acceptable. It is important for working mothers to know that they should never tolerate workplace discrimination, to understand their rights, and to feel empowered to advocate for those rights if conflicts arise.
M: Should moms working from home keep a breastfeeding schedule or switch to nursing on demand?
JJ: There is not a “one size fits all” answer to this. Take a step back to consider your daily routine and work schedule. It may take trial and error to find what is best for you. More than anything, simply do what works for you, your baby, and your new work flow.
Thank you Jennifer!
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