On Friday, October 22nd, the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act. The PUMP Act would ensure that nursing parents can access the break time and space they need at work. While the 2010 Break Time for Nursing Mothers Act was an important step forward for those who are balancing nursing a newborn and returning to work after birth, it left nearly 9 million employees of childbearing age unprotected, including nurses, teachers, and software engineers. The PUMP Act would correct this exclusion while also providing employees with the remedies they need to meaningfully enforce their rights.
In March, A Better Balance co-president Dina Bakst testified before Congress about the urgent need for this law. She explained that, without crucial protections for breastfeeding at work, some workers reduce their schedules, are terminated, or are forced out of the workplace, foregoing vital income and familial economic security because their workplaces are so hostile to their need to express milk. Others simply stop breastfeeding altogether, even though many may wish to continue breastfeeding.
Research shows that breastfeeding has substantial health benefits for both mothers and babies. Breastfeeding protects babies from acute illnesses, such as infections and diarrhea, which can be serious especially in very young and vulnerable babies like those born preterm, as well as from longer-term conditions like childhood obesity and asthma; at the same time, those who breastfeed also receive significant health benefits including lower risk of breast cancer and heart disease.
Under current law, too many workers—disproportionately low-wage working women of color—are forced to choose between a paycheck and providing breast milk for their child. No one should be forced to make that choice. The PUMP Act will ensure that millions more workers are able to access the break time and space they need to pump breastmilk at work. The time to act is now: join us in urging all Members of Congress to pass this vital support for working families.