School Won't Give Breastfeeding Teacher 15 Minutes to Pump for Her Baby

Rant 17

bottle of breast milkAnother breastfeeding mom has run into trouble at work for having the audacity to think her employers should give her a little slack so she could pump milk for her baby. Can you even imagine what Sarah Ann Lewis Boyle was thinking? Here she asked the Carmel Unified School District to give her 15 whole minutes of time out of her teaching schedule to pump for her baby.

Fifteen minutes for breast pumping! What's next? Will she actually expect them to let her go pee? Or give her health care benefits? The nerve of new moms today, really.

Yes, I'm kidding.

But you know that outrage you felt when you thought I was serious? That's the kind of outrage we need to summon for new moms who return to work only to find that work doesn't care about new moms.

The breastfeeding teacher's complaint against the district alleges that a manager told her to "train her breasts not to make milk," and that she was given a poor evaluation because of her fight for her rights, then urged to resign from her teaching position.

Now just imagine a worker was being denied the right to void their bladder. Say a manager had told them to train their body not to make urine. No one would stand for it, and rightfully so. 

We aren't talking about lengthy personal calls here or employees asking for extra time to do their makeup. We're talking about basic human needs. A breastfeeding mom has to pump. Nature simply doesn't stop making the milk. And all she's asking for is 15 minutes.

Even as we make leaps in women's rights, we are still stuck with an employment world that treats breastfeeding mothers like they're trying to get one over on the system when they try to take advantage of their federally protected right to pump on the job.

Given the number of people you see in their work uniforms puffing away near the door of various establishments, even people who smoke seem to be given more leeway from the average employer than a woman like Sarah Boyle.

Is it really so much to ask an employer to give a breastfeeding mom the same amount of time it takes someone to puff a cigarette so she can go pump?


Image via bradleypjohnson/Flickr

baby health, back-to-work, breastfeeding


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Histo... HistoryMamaX3

You've spun a great story out of a tiny little online blurb... why not wait until we have all the facts to the story to ensure that is what ACTUALLY happened- because, well- there might be other issues or facts to the story we don't know yet. *sigh*

In the meantime, you'll have successfully created a mass hysteria for a woman with whom we don't know whether we should be supporting or not!?! Seriously, why not have a bit of fact to your story before running with it?

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

How dare they not give her extra time. What do they expect her to do? Pump before class, during a planning period, while her students are at recess, during lunch, or after the students leave for the day? How can they possibly expect her to use her regularly scheduled breaks to pump? It's almost as if they think thousands of women all over the US manage to pump on their scheduled breaks without asking for extra time off.

Tracey Plummer

I'm sure they give her a lunch break, you know, since it's the law. She has time.


IKnow... IKnow0101

Teachers still get lunch breaks and planning time.  I don't know if she needs extra time but even with the overcrowding and double duties, they still have a break somewhere in their day to pump.  Unfortunately not every place of employment can allow to many disruptions.  Who will watch her class for the 20 minutes or so she needs to pump?

kisse... kisses5050

 if she is a middle school teacher 15 minutes is a quarter of her class time...

When I returned to teaching 14 years ago.. the world was not near as "accommodating" but my male principal had renovated a janitor closet with wall paper and rocking chair. he had put a little fridge in there and pictures of my baby and a cd player...but I pumped on planning break and at lunch...once when we were having a special celebration lunch he came and took my class so I could pump early and not miss the lunch..

nonmember avatar Ashley

I taught 7th grade in 2007 for 5 days and one of the reasons I quit was the fact that my planning period was the only break I got till the kids left. I had to walk them to lunch and sit at the table and eat with them and walk them back to our classroom. We were not allowed to leave our kids unattended, so if I had to go to the bathroom from 10 am until 3:30, another teacher would have to watch my class. That interrupts his or her class or planning period, taking away time they need for their class. I'm sure there are different procedures for each school, but in my school, your planning period was all you got. (Although I say it was a reason I quit, it was pretty far down the list. Let's just leave it at I'm not cut out to be a teacher.)

April... AprilJune

I teach and feel like it would definitely be possible for me to pump on my regular breaks (recesses, lunch, planning period). Not every day is the same breaks because of supervision duties, but there are definitely breaks. I breastfeed/fed both of my children, so I'm not just saying it would work without having any idea what breastfeeding/pumping entails. And, as a previous reader commented, who is going to supervise her class for that time? Are they going to have to hire someone to do that? Even if they use someone who is already employed at the school part time, their contract will have to be upped, resulting in an extra cost to the school board. I'm all for working moms and breastfeeding, so I get that it's a tough situation, but I don't think we should expect the school to restructure their entire day. My opinion is also affected by the fact that I live in Canada, so we have a year off (I actually took/am taking an extra three months for each of my children),so my kids were/will be eating table food when I went/go back to work. I know in the US your babies are so much younger, so I guess breastfeeding while working is a much more common issue.

homes... homeschoolx3

Slap their arrogant, loser asses with a discrimination lawsuit, what they did IS discriminaton. Public schools seem to forget we own their asses.

nonmember avatar Sara

My job did not give me time to pump, half of the time I did not get a lunch break at all and I was stuck there over my scheduled time. I had to stop breastfeeding my son at 7 months, biggest regret of my life. I just couldn't make enough, I couldn't quit my job because I needed the insurance for me and my son.

Kaethe Mccoskery

I can still remember trying to pump milk for my dear baby almost 40 yrs ago. She past away after openheart surgery. I am always hoping it has gotten easier for mothers. I hid in the bathrm and then put it in the employee fridge in a brown paper bag, to look like lunch. I will never forget being found out and the "buzz" going around that my husband must be "challenged", otherwise he wouldnt be home with the baby. She had to have the breastmilk for just the fact that she couldnt have salt. I knew my coworkers loved to gossip and didnt care about me but i ultimatly lost my job and hate the idea that it still is so hard to do. If you dont like the women getting special treatment, think about the child. Whatever to make it easier

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