In my last post, I gave an overview of the realities of being a working mom who pumps aimed at colleagues and bosses of said moms. As I said there, I think it’s important for employers and co-workers to be educated on what’s really going on with pumping so they can hopefully be more supportive.
There are reams and reams of literature and blog posts for pumping moms about how to make it work, how to do it right, how to minimize your pumping time but maximize your supply, etc. There’s also been a lot written about what employers are legally required to provide - basically a space that’s private but not a bathroom, but only if you’re over a certain size. I’ve never, though, seen any advice for employers about how to actively support their pumping moms in their quest to be successful in their job while producing food for their child.
The working/pumping moms I know bend over backward to produce food for their baby while also going above and beyond their employers’ expectations. I think it would be nice if we (I still say “we” even though I’m not pumping anymore – I don’t think I’ll ever forget my pumping experience) got a little support.
So, here are five suggestions for how you (as a boss or colleague) can be more supportive of a working, pumping mom:
- Let her know you’re cool with it and she should take the time she needs. This is a huge one for bosses. Sometimes a simple comment like “hey, we are supportive of your pumping and want you to take the time you need to make it work” would go a long way. It seems like such a small gesture, but trust me.
- Be respectful of pumping time. It’s not to say a woman can never be flexible about her pumping times, it’s just that she can’t be flexible ALL the time (most women can’t anyway if they want a reasonably maintained milk supply). So if you can avoid back-to-back-to-back-to-back meetings, please do (which BTW is a generally good rule of thumb anyway).
- Have realistic expectations about travel. Traveling-while-pumping deserves a whole other post but for now: many pumping moms are willing to do it, but also need a little more support. Pumping in airports, cars and clients’/prospective clients’ offices is not fun. Build more time into your travel schedule, if you can, and make sure she’s adjusted back into working before you ask her to travel. And if you can work in suggestion #1 as well, that would help.
- Don’t hound her about her whereabouts. First of all, I hope you don’t hound ANY of your employees about their whereabouts. That just shows a complete lack of trust in your people and it’s 2017, we can work from anywhere. Second, more specifically to pumping, just don’t. Do you really want to hear that she was emptying her boobs of milk? No, you don’t, so please stop asking where she’s going.
- Get over it. Some people are really freaked/grossed out by pumping and nursing, but you’re just going to have to get over it. It’s not something to be whispered about in the halls or talked about in euphemisms or joked about (yes we’ve heard the joke about using our milk in people’s coffee, no it’s not funny). Just get over it.
Are these helpful? Fellow former and current pumpers, did I miss anything?