Since 2010, there has been a federal law in place protecting moms who pump breast milk at work. The law mandates that moms will have a private place in which to pump (specifying that it not be a bathroom), and “reasonable break time” in order to do so.
This is totally awesome … in theory. But the harsh reality is that many women simply do not get adequate time and space to pump for their babies.
Well, one organization is looking to change that. MomsRising.org, an advocacy group for women and families, has launched a social media campaign called #ipumpedhere in order to bring awareness to the issue and make positive changes in the kinds of accommodations offered to working moms. Throughout the month (which coincides with National Breastfeeding Month), MomsRising.org will be posting on Instagram and Twitter about the struggles of working/pumping moms.
And today, they took things a step further. Members of MomsRising.org showed up on Capitol Hill this morning (in some cases with their babies in tow!) to demand that senators and key lawmakers take moms’ needs for adequate pumping accommodations seriously. How badass and inspiring is that?
These moms didn’t show up empty-handed, either. MomsRising.org has gathered stories and letters from working moms all over the country highlighting the need for better accommodations, and these personal stories were hand-delivered to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
In addition, MomsRising.org compiled an open letter to senators signed by a whopping 13,000 people urging lawmakers to take this issue seriously and expand protections for all moms working outside the home that was also presented this morning.
If you think that’s awesome, get this: the MomsRising.org advocates came bearing breast milk-themed gifts in the form of breast milk storage bag stuffed with gold chocolate kisses to represent their “liquid gold” breast milk. Don’t you just love that? REPRESENT, ladies!
But in all seriousness, the issue of workplace pumping accommodations is actually a deeper issue than you might think, as a large number of mothers face major roadblocks pumping at work. “Over 60 percent of women do not have access to proper accommodations,” says Tina Sherman, campaign director at MomsRising.org on a Facebook live video from the morning’s events. “And we need to bring those moms out of the bathroom stalls and into the proper workplace accommodations that they deserve.”
Sixty percent? Wow. That’s way too many women facing this issue. And it is completely unconscionable that a pumping mom would be relegated to a bathroom stall, likely the most unsanitary space to pump milk for a baby!
National Director of Workplace Justice Campaign, Ruth Martin, tells Babble that this statistic was gathered from a study out of the University of Minnesota from 2015. She says part of the work of MomsRising.org does is to bring research and statistics like this to light, so that both parents and lawmakers know that this issue is real. Addressing these issues is a positive and important step for the health and well-being and moms and babies everywhere.
Working at a breastfeeding friendly business is key for moms to breastfeed as long as major health organizations recommend they do. The Academy of American Pediatrics recommends 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, and while the vast majority of moms start off breastfeeding (81 percent, according to the latest CDC statistics), that number drops drastically by 6 months, with only 51 percent of moms still at it.
CEO and Executive Director of MomsRising.org, Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, has some thoughts about why so many moms are not meeting their breastfeeding goals — and it has so much to do with the lack of support from their places of work.
“One of the main causes for the drop-off in breastfeeding rates is the lack of clean, accessible places to pump at work,” says Rowe-Finkbeiner. “That is why it is vital to highlight new mothers’ rights to clean, safe, accessible places at the workplace to pump. It is shameful that in a developed nation like the Unites States, breastfeeding moms at work must resort to pumping on the toilet or other inadequate and unsanitary places because their employer does not accommodate their right to feed their child.”
But it’s not just moms and babies we are talking about here. Giving working moms adequate pumping conditions has clear and vital benefits for employers as well. “Studies have shown that breastfeeding means healthier moms and babies, and the benefits extend to businesses, too, because healthier families mean less employee absenteeism and higher productivity,” explains Rowe-Finkbeiner.
This is an issue that affects us all, so a major fist pump to advocates like those from MomsRising.org who are out there on the field demanding that pumping moms receive the accommodations they so rightly deserve.