Angela Ames, an employee at Nationwide Advantage Mortgage in Des Moines Iowa was back at work after eight weeks of maternity leave — her premature baby boy at home. She felt strongly about continuing to nurse (she had fed her first son formula but wanted to breastfeed this time, especially considering her son was five weeks early).
It was her first day back, she had gone three hours without nursing, she was leaking and engorged. And her employer asked her to fill out paperwork that would take three days to process before she was given access to a lactation room to pump. So what did she do?
According to Ames, who is now filing a civil rights complaint against her employer, she had no choice but to resign. She was in pain, she knew if she didn’t pump her milk supply would go down, and she couldn’t get access to an electrical plug in the bathroom (as a nurse at the company suggested). She had been offered a “sick room” at the company as an alternative, but according to Ames it wasn’t sanitary and there was actually a sick person in it at the time.
Federal law provides that breastfeeding moms be given break time and a private place to pump for the first year of their baby’s life. It may be that this company was compliant on paper, but obviously not supportive in practice. Three days to get access to a lactation room?!
We just learned from the CDC that three quarters of moms start breastfeeding, but more than half are done before six months. No wonder.
Image: Flickr/Nerrisa’s ring
More from Heather Turgeon: