If you're a mom who's ever tried pumping your milk at work, you probably have at least one horror story to tell about your experience. Under Obama's Fair Labor Standards Act, though, it's supposed to get easier. Employers are now required to provide breastfeeding moms with a private place to pump. So you'd think the White House would have a room for nursing moms, right? Um, wrong. At least not until recently, as one new mom found out. Here's her sad saga.
Rachel Rose Hartman is a political reporter who spends a lot of time reporting from the White House. She didn't exactly want to pump while she was at there, but one day she found herself painfully engorged. Her only option was a unisex bathroom, where she balanced her pump on sinks. "When I imagined my journalism career, I never pictured myself standing shirtless in a unisex bathroom in the White House," is how she put it.
This got her asking around. Really -- was there no private space at the White House where a breastfeeding mom can pump in peace and privacy? Technically, it's her employer's responsibility to provide her that space (famously family-friendly Yahoo -- uh oh!). And it was a major hassle for Hartman and the White House Correspondents Association to sort it out. Long story short, two months later the White House accommodated her with a space. It took so long because space there is extremely limited and complicated what with security. But thankfully people took the law -- and the needs of nursing moms -- seriously enough to solve the problem.
Will we ever get to the point where it's just a given that if a mom wants to pump at work, there's going to be a reliable, hassle-free private space for her? I hope so. But I think it's going to take a lot of assertive, pushy moms to make sure it happens sooner than later. And if it's this much of a hassle to pump at the White House -- which is where this law originates! -- no wonder women across the country are having so much trouble getting employers to comply.
Does your workplace have a private space where you could pump milk if you needed to?
Image via planet_oleary/Flickr