This Black Breastfeeding Week, we were thrilled to sit down with Dr. Flora Ukoli, M.D., MPH., IBCLC. Dr. Ukoli is a Professor of Community Medicine at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, the first historically Black four-year medical school in the South. She is a World Health Organization Breastfeeding and Lactation Master Trainer, and has engaged in extensive Baby-Friendly breastfeeding promotion and advocacy in Nigeria and the United States.
While Jetaun was given a room to pump, the room was shared with another company, and a sign placed on the door was insufficient to ensure her privacy (which is often medically necessary for milk expression). At one point, a male employee entered without knocking while she was pumping. Jetaun was very upset by this violation of her privacy, and she brought the issue to a manager, to no avail.
Returning to work after having a child can be a big transition, especially if you are breastfeeding. Nursing parents need break time and space for pumping breast milk at work, and possibly other changes or accommodations to allow them to stay healthy and continue breastfeeding while doing their job.
Starting June 27, Kentucky women who are working while pregnant, recovering from childbirth, or who need to express breastmilk at work are protected under the law from discrimination. Kentucky law now gives workers an explicit right to reasonable pregnancy accommodations at work, so they can stay healthy and safe while continuing to earn a paycheck to support their family.
In New York City, there are laws that can help us when we or our loved ones are sick, when we need to care for our families’ serious health needs, or when we’re growing our families. We’ve been out and about meeting with people to present information about some of these different laws.
We were thrilled to co-present a webinar hosted by the US Breastfeeding Committee on Monday to inform workers and students in the healthcare industry about their legal rights regarding breastfeeding.
When she was around 6 months pregnant, she started inquiring about a private space where she would be able express breast milk, as she planned to breastfeed her child after giving birth. Her supervisors told her, “We’ll figure something out,” but never followed up with her.
“Talking to Your Boss About Your Pump,” is a state-by-state guide, created in partnership with WorkLife Law, that includes everything from practical tips for how to talk to your boss about breastfeeding accommodations to your legal protections to mapping out a plan for your needs at work.
In August each year, we celebrate National Breastfeeding Month. It’s an opportunity to recognize the importance of breastfeeding and consider the challenges still before us in ensuring all mothers can breastfeed if they choose. Paid leave is an essential tool in establishing and sustaining breastfeeding.
For too many mothers and those that love them, balancing family and work is a constant struggle, from staying healthy during pregnancy, to breastfeeding while working, to getting a sick parent or child to the doctor. This Mother’s Day, it’s time for more than cards and flowers—let’s honor our mothers with the policy changes working families need. We won’t stop fighting until all of us can be there for our families like Ileana was.