Returning to work after having a baby is stressful on so many levels. From leaving your little one for the first time to entrusting his or her care in someone else’s hands, and all the prep work that goes into being apart for a minimum of eight hours each workday. Often times, as women we don’t want to come across as demanding or high maintenance so we neglect to ask for what we need. But it’s not about demands. It’s about ensuring you receive the support you need to be successful as both a working woman and a mama. It’s about knowing what you can and should ask for.
This FAQ post is intended to do just that… provide information that allows you to be all the things. A mama. A working professional. An advocate for yourself, your family and your life. So for all of you nursing mamas who want to find success while still pursuing a career and big goals, here is what you need to know, as organized by the Public Health Law Center at William Mitchell College of Law.
Q: What sort of time and space must my employer provide me to express milk?
A: When pumping, you are entitled to a space that is private, reasonably close to your work station, secure and includes access to an electrical outlet. Note that this space cannot be a bathroom.
Q: Which employees are covered?
A: This one is pretty simple. All employees are covered under Minnesota law, whether the organization has one, 100, 1,000 or 100,000.
Q: How many breaks will I be allowed to take, and will I get paid for break time taken to express milk?
A: There is no legal guidance regarding the number of breaks a nursing mother can take. The key is your employer must provide reasonable break time and for the benefit of all, always helpful to be overly communicative.
Q: What if I encounter difficulties in obtaining break time or space to express milk in the workplace?
A: Knowing and asking for what you are legally entitled to is never easy. When in doubt, there are resources to answer questions and provide support. You can contact your local La Leche League group ( 612-992-4996)) with specific questions. For more information on breastfeeding in the workplace, visit the Minnesota Breastfeeding Coalition’s website.
Q: In addition to workplace protections, does Minnesota law allow breastfeeding in public?
A: The short answer is yes. Minnesota law allows a mother to breastfeed in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are allowed to be, including restaurants, stores, parks, malls, and other locations. Breastfeeding in public is in no way a violation of Minnesota’s indecent exposure laws.
As you navigate the world of nursing and pumping, whether for the first time or third or seventh, know that it is never easy but there are laws and resources to support you as much as possible. In the end, it’s about doing what is important to you. For some, that means nursing at home and formula when not with the child, but for others, that means the time-consuming and inconvenient world of pumping, or maybe even exclusive pumping. No matter what your choice, you can succeed. The key is knowing what you want and what you are legally entitled to. From there, the pathway to success is lined with resources and support.
References cited in this blog post:
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Breastfeeding Report Card — United States 2014 at 4, available for further reading here.
- Public Health Center, available for further reading here.