Many people can support you on your journey as a pumping working mom, from your partner to your baby’s caregiver to your work bestie. But don’t overlook the role of one important person: your boss.
Like it or not, your supervisor is an important stakeholder in this equation. Hopefully they care about you, your time, and your experience as an employee. While pumping at work is a win-win-win for all involved, you still need to communicate and align on expectations.
How do you even tell your manager you need to pump at work?
This could get awkward, but there are ways to make it less so. Here are tips for talking with your boss about your breastfeeding and pumping needs.
Do your homework
Start by learning your rights as a pumping mama. The basic gist: Most U.S. employees have the right to take reasonable time to pump breastmilk in a clean, private space that is not a restroom. Also, brush up on any relevant HR policies at your particular company or organization.
Bring it up early
If you can, plan to discuss your pumping plans with your boss before you go out on parental leave. An in-person meeting, video call, or phone call may be useful, depending on your work dynamic. If you’re more comfortable discussing things over email, this can be a great opportunity to link to various sources about the benefits of supporting lactation at work.
Planning ahead isn’t required—your rights are covered no matter what—but it will give everyone more time to work out the logistics. Touch base again about your pumping schedule and accommodations a week or two before you return to work.
Explain your “why”
Best-case scenario, your boss is a mama who has been there, done that. It’s equally possible they’re unaware of the needs of breastfeeding mothers—or somewhere in between.
No matter what, be prepared to explain why it’s so important for you to have regular pumping sessions during the workday and what a pumping schedule looks like. Does your boss need some extra education? Start here.
If you’re comfortable doing so, you could get even more personal. Share why you enjoy feeding your baby breastmilk—whether it’s the closeness to your little one, the knowledge that you’re giving them the best nutrition, or the health benefits for both of you (or all the above).
Hopefully your company has a policy or procedures in place. If not, it may be helpful to do a little planning. If you know a colleague who has pumped at work, they can be a resource on what has worked well in the past. For example, does a lactation room already exist (score!)? Or do you have your eyes on that little-used conference room on the second floor? Arrive with a plan to propose based on the information you’ve gathered and what you know about your workplace culture, job, and schedule. You may need to compromise slightly, but it’s easiest to give your manager a starting point to react to. (And know that this planning may help the next pumping mama at work.)
Whatever you agree on, document it afterward by email and save a copy for yourself.
Make sure they’ve got your back
There may be times your manager needs to communicate your pumping needs on your behalf—for example, if a teammate questions why your office door is closed more than usual or you’re a few minutes late to a meeting. The better your boss understands your pumping plans, the better they can back you up (discreetly!).
Hopefully, they are ready and willing to give you what you need to succeed. If you ever feel management isn’t being supportive or receptive, or you don’t feel comfortable talking with them about breastfeeding at all, turn to HR instead.
Pumping Like a Boss
Your manager can be an important ally as you navigate the return to work and achieve your pumping goals. The world needs more breastfeeding-friendly workplaces, and this isn’t just the work of nursing moms.
As always, you’ve got this, mama!
All content found on the Lansinoh.com website, including: text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.