What Every Mom-To-Be Needs to Do Before Maternity Leave
Pregnancy comes with a long to-do list—names, baby registry, labor plan. If you’re also planning for a leave from work, you probably have to put in a plan to cover your colleagues when you’re gone. Great. But don’t forget about your return. Do these three things before you leave work and your future (sleep-deprived and milk-leaky) self will thank you.
1) Know your rights.
Understand your state laws around breastfeeding at work. Many states require employers to provide both break time and a lactation space to pump for all working mothers. For states without such laws, the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” requires employers to provide reasonable break time and a lactation accommodation (other than a bathroom) for non-exempt (i.e. hourly) employees.
2) Meet with your manager to make a pumping plan.
Once you understand your workplace rights as a (future) breastfeeding employee, schedule a time to meet with your supervisor to discuss the support you’ll need at work as a breastfeeding mother. The sooner, the better. Plan to discuss the following:
Available lactation space. Is it private and secure, yet close to your workspace? How will you access it?
The process to let your coworkers know that you will need to have multiple pump breaks scheduled throughout the day.
Any requests you may have for increased schedule flexibility.
3) Find your mama mentors.
Connect with other mothers who have pumped (or are currently pumping) at work. Even if you don’t know them well, chances are, they’ll be happy to offer support and make it better for the next mom (you!). And the next mom after her (you paying it forward!). Personal conversations with coworkers help to normalize breastfeeding in the workplace. And there’s a trickle down effect: the more we talk about breastfeeding, the more we help normalize it in our larger culture.