More Employers Need to Have Rules Like This for Nursing Moms

breast milkThe Breastfeeding Mom’s Golden Flange Award goes to ... the University of Pennsylvania! This prestigious college has put the rest of the Ivy League to shame with a stated policy, right there on their website, that breastfeeding moms can return to work knowing their needs will be supported. The program is called The Nursing Mother’s Program, and it applies to anyone -- full-time, part-time, faculty, or staff -- in the first year of breastfeeding.

Was that so hard? Why can’t you be more like Penn, everyone else?


A little digging reveals that Ryan Comfort, the genius behind this past summer's "Latch On America" big-pink-bus tour to raise awareness of the importance of breastfeeding, and its umbrella organization, Milk for Thought, is a graduate of Wharton, Penn's business school. So here's his organization in action. Too cool.

The website is actually a terrific resource for all working moms because it clearly states exactly what your rights are, as a pumping mom, and what you should be able to expect at your workplace. For instance:

Supervisors should keep in mind that the frequency and duration of breaks vary from mother to mother depending on their physical needs. There may be occasions when a nursing mother will need to handle lactation responsibilities at times that aren’t optimally convenient for the office. Supervisors are responsible for creating a supportive environment for nursing mothers so they can adequately manage their lactation responsibilities.

That’s refreshing, isn’t it? And an associate professor at the nursing school is on hand to make sure the lactation areas are up to snuff (now that’s creative use of your assets).

There is some paperwork to be done -- not only for the woman returning to work, but for her supervisor. I’ll admit that at first glance it looks fussy; why do I have to say approximately when I’ll be taking breaks, and what the protocol will be to cover my desk while I’m gone? But the supervisor also signs off on this document, which means the worker's rights are acknowledged and protected head of time. I think in the long run, this is a way to foster the kind of open communication and advanced preparation that makes this kind of program possible.

The best thing about this is that it’s going to benefit more than just nursing moms. If someone has another medical need, this will be a great template to prove that people can take care of themselves and do their jobs efficiently.

And if your workplace doesn’t have such a program in practice, well, now you have a handy-dandy website to forward to your HR department so they can get on board.

Bravo, Penn. So whatcha got, Harvard?

Do you pump from work? What challenges have you faced?

Image via shingleback/Flickr

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