I’m so excited to be blogging over on The Bump, one of the largest online communities for expecting and new moms. My latest: http://blog.thebump.com/2015/05/27/working-mom-breastfeeding-goals/
My wonderful friend Ellie Stoneley, a popular blogger based in the UK (and a Bruce Springsteen fanatic, which won this Jersey girl’s heart straight off), wrote a piece this week that has gotten love from both HuffPo and UNICEF. In essence, Ellie notes a recent study that found that PPD “is more than double in women who planned to breastfeed and then were unable to, whereas the women who planned to breastfeed and then did are 50% less likely to be affected.”
Ellie goes on to talk about how essential it proved to be that she prepared for breastfeeding, through classes and reading, before the birth of her lovely little sprite Hope, and how important postpartum support was. She advocates strongly that every woman, in every country, have ready access to ongoing support in the early weeks and months of her baby’s life, because, let’s all say it together: BREASTFEEDING MIGHT BE NATURAL, BUT IT AIN’T EASY.
Ellie’s piece resonated with me on a lot of levels, and I am so proud of her for advocating for something that ALL women and babies, of all socio-economic levels, everywhere, need and deserve. But it also got me thinking that something continues to be missing from this conversation. (I can say this, knowing that Ellie will have my back!)
I admit it: I am often first in line to complain about businesses that do not proactively support employees who need to pump breast milk at work. …and then, through a friend, I met Megan Wesley – a small business owner and mom herself. Megan walked me through the financial and operational implications of having a pumping employee on her staff of two (in other words, half of her workforce). And while I still believe that things need to change on the business and legislative levels (not to mention culture overall), hearing Megan’s story and point of view was really eye-opening for me. So, without further ado: Megan’s story:
Two years ago, I was a new mom heading back to work, ubiquitous black Medela pump bag in hand, ready(ish) to tackle the challenges of pumping on the job. Turns out, I didn’t really have any challenges compared to most other women. Yep, I was lucky. As a lawyer at a big law firm, I returned to work after a lengthy paid maternity leave. In my firm’s fancy-schmancy downtown office, there was a dedicated lactation room stocked with a mini-fridge, comfortable lounge chair, a guest chair (for…spectators?), sink, electrical outlets, WiFi, side table, the whole nine yards.
Zip forward two years. I am no longer a big firm attorney. After years of doing mergers and acquisitions for the firm’s clients, I bought a small company. I now have two employees and run a business.
One of my employees recently had a baby and was out on an unpaid maternity leave. I know I know I know…I shouldn’t have had the privilege of a paid leave and then provide only unpaid leave (while my own child is still in diapers nonetheless). It’s not fair. But the tables have turned and I am now the employer with a budget to consider. Maybe someday I will run a company that’s large enough that a paid maternity leave doesn’t increase my payroll expenses by close to 50%. Until then, here a few thoughts I’ve had about pumping on the job from an employer’s viewpoint: