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Home / Articles / Opinion / 5 Spot /  Employers must provide space to pump breast milk
5 Spot

Employers must provide space to pump breast milk

Elizabeth Smith, Past President of Utah Breastfeeding Coalition

By Jerre Wroble
Posted // April 28,2010 -

With the passage of federal health-care reform, employers will be required to provide breastfeeding employees with reasonable, unpaid break time and a private, nonbathroom place to pump breast milk for their nursing child for one year after the child’s birth. Elizabeth Smith, past president of the Utah Breastfeeding Coalition, says her organization is prepared to help both employers and employees understand the legislation. More information is available at UtahBreastFeeding.org.

What have breastfeeding employees been doing up until now?
If they don’t have a private space, they tend to pump in their car or the bathroom.

During the summer and the winter, the temperatures are extreme, and it’s hard to sit in the car for the 15-20 minutes necessary. Additionally, it’s also not private; people can see through the windows. As far as the bathroom; no one would want to have their food prepared in a bathroom. Pumping in a stall is doing just that.

Where in a typical office can a woman go to express milk, especially if she doesn’t have an office with a door?

It doesn’t need to be big. Just enough room for a chair, as long as there is an outlet.?Many businesses have converted a closet, portion of a room, etc.

Your group wanted the 2010 Legislature to pass HB252 in support of breastfeeding mothers, yet the bill (which was less stringent that the federal provision) didn’t even make it out of committee. Rep. Mike Morley, R-Spanish Fork, was one of the committee members who voted against it, saying HB252 just “dictated common sense.” Do you agree?
It should be common sense, but it isn’t. Women are afraid to ask, and employers don’t think about it. When I spoke to a clinic manager (in health care), he didn’t understand that pumping has to be done regularly. He thought that a woman could save up all day and just pump at night.

I also wonder if the constituents in Spanish Fork would like to know that Rep.

Morley said that he didn’t understand why a woman would work in a place that doesn’t allow her to pump. He didn’t think it was really a problem. I wonder if he understands that [nursing moms] continue to work in that environment because they have to put food on the table; they have no choice and no voice.

How would you suggest an employee approach her employer to create a private place for her to express breast milk?

If she doesn’t have a relationship with her employer to make the approach, she can contact the Utah Breastfeeding Coalition (contact@utahbreastfeeding.org), and we will help her decide how to approach the employer or make that contact for her.

 
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