Breastfeeding and employment are compatible, important, and represent a win-win for everybody. Infants experience fewer illnesses, mothers use less sick days to care for their ill infant, and companies benefit from decreased employee turnover, fewer one day absences, and lower health care costs.

Breastfeeding employees enjoy some legal protections.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (“Affordable Care Act”) amended section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) to require employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk. Employers are also required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk. The break time requirement became effective when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010. This is a federal law that applies only to non-exempt employees (those who are eligible for over-time pay/hourly workers). For more information, see:

US Department of Labor’s Information Page.

Fact Sheet: Break Time for Nursing Mothers under the FLSA

Employee Rights Card

Massachusetts has a state law regarding protection for breastfeeding employees. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“the Act”) amends the current statute prohibiting discrimination in employment, G.L. c. 151B, §4, and is enforced by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD).The Act, went into effect on April 1, 2018, and expressly prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, such as lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child.  It also describes employers’ obligations to employees that are pregnant or lactating and the protections these employees are entitled to receive. For more information see:

MCAD Guidance on Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

MCAD Questions and Answers on Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The Business Case for Breastfeeding

The Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health has a comprehensive program designed to educate employers about the value of supporting breastfeeding employees in the workplace. Click Here.

For nursing families

Talk with your employer before your baby is born in order to secure the accommodations that you need to continue nursing and expressing milk after your return to work.

Talking with your employer

United States Breastfeeding Committee

From the Office on Women’s Health

Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work

Apps

Pump LogTM tracks milk production and acts as a pumping tracker

Pumping Tracker – Breast Milk Pump Log for Mama

From La Leche League

La Leche League

Books

Working and breastfeeding made simple

Nancy Mohrbacher

Praeclarus Press, 2014

 

Work. Pump. Repeat. The new mom’s survival guide to breastfeeding and going back to work

Jessica Shortall

Harry N. Abrams, 2015

 

Non-Traditional Returning to Work Arrangements

Information on companies who offer non-traditional childcare within the workspace and information on if this could work in your place of employment can be found at the Parenting in the Workplace Institute

Childcare and the breastfed baby

Boston Public Health Commission

Boston Healthy Child Care Initiative

United States Department of Agriculture

Breastfed babies welcome here! A mother’s guide

United States Department of Agriculture

Breastfed babies welcome here! A guide for childcare providers

Supporting breastfeeding in child care settings…for parents

Take this checklist with you, and ask the childcare provider:

  1. Do they support your desire to continue feeding your baby your milk?
  2. Is there a place where you can comfortably sit and nurse your baby?
  3. Does the staff feed babies when they are hungry, rather than on a strict schedule?
  4. Are they willing to hold off feeding right before you pick up your baby?
  5. Does the center have a refrigerator for storing milk?
  6. Are you welcome to visit and breastfeed your baby at any time?
  7. Is the staff educated on the importance of breastfeeding and how to care for a breastfed infant?

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