My boss is giving me a hard time about taking breaks to pump my milk. What should I do?

Before I took my maternity leave, I talked with my boss about my decision to continue breastfeeding after my maternity leave. I returned to work when my son was eight weeks old. He's four months old now. Although my boss seemed supportive at first, I'm picking up messages from him that he's been tolerant long enough and that I need to stop taking pumping breaks during work hours. How do I convince my boss that being able to still breastfeed is what made it possible for me to return to work after becoming a mom?

Question:

A first step might be to set up an appointment to meet with your boss. Begin by thanking him for supporting you in your decision to continue breastfeeding. This would be a great opportunity to let him know that continuing to breastfeed is what has made it possible for you to continue working after the birth of your baby.

Tell him that you plan to continue breastfeeding for at least as long as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (exclusively for about six months, combined with complementary foods until one year, and then for as long as you and your son want to continue).

Next: "What’s in it for him"

 

Mention the tremendous health benefits for women and their babies. Ask him for his continued support. This will give him an opportunity to express the concerns you were picking up from him.

Be prepared to compromise. If your pumping breaks have been on company time, offer to pump on your own time. For example, if you get an hour for lunch, shorten your lunch to 30 minutes, and use 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon to pump. Or consider getting to work 15 minutes earlier or staying 15 minutes later.

The meeting also gives you an opportunity to let your boss know “what’s in it for him.” Employers who support breastfeeding in the workplace benefit by:

  • Enhanced employee job satisfaction
  • Improved employer-employee relationships when employee needs are considered and valued by employers
  • Reduced employee turnover, saving the costs of new-employee hiring, orientation and training
  • Reduced employee sick days because breastfed babies are sick less often
  • Reduced insurance costs because health-care costs are less for breastfed babies

As you well know, breastfeeding after returning to work helps women deal with the sadness they feel when they have to leave their baby on workdays. It's worth fighting for.

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