11 answers

New Mom Being Forced to Travel for Work

i am a new single mom and have a executive position that i have decided to step down from in order to spend more time with my new baby. i told them i was not willing to travel any more...but i have about 4 months left in my postiion. there is a trip planned in jan that i am now being asked to go on. it is a 15 hour flight so bringing my baby is not an option for me. i am still nursing and hoped to do so for a year. i am not sure what my legal rights are, or if i have any. i dont want to give up nursing and i know if i am gone for a week the probability of me being able to continue that is slim. additionally i dont want to be away from my baby for a week!!!!! i dont know what to do or how to approach this situation. needless to say with the economy the way it is i am nervous to cause any drama as i cant afford to be out of a job completely. anyone have any advice or experience with this???

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I would contact an employment attorney immediately and request a consultation.

Additionally, I'd start considering obtaining medical support. (i.e. contacting your son's pediatrician and see if s/he will draft a letter stating that it would not be in the best interest of your son to be separated from you.)

But don't do anything until you speak with an attorney who specializes in employment law. A consultation will probably be free. Getting specific advice might run you as much as $500, but I'd chalk that up to "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Get some legal advice - you cannot be discriminated against because you are a single parent!

2 moms found this helpful

You know...speaking from experience (my own and many many others I know)...

It's actually a lot easier to travel with an infant then it is with an older child.

Especially now that you can bring their car seat on the plane. Babies tend to eat and sleep a great deal. Which is a great blessing on the road. Older children need to run around, and they get bored and tired a lot faster then babies do.

Although....a fifteen hour flight from Seattle could be dropping you in any number of hotspots, unstable areas, or places with limited water and or health care(I started listing them and gave up for an unfortunate wealth of data). OR You could be flying to Rome with a couple hour layover in London.

If you're not flying into an area where you and your son would be considered for danger or hardship pay, you might consider taking him with you. If you don't have a nanny already it's possible to hire one specifically for the trip (so you can keep your mind on your business). Or bring a family member/friend on a working vacation. At the very least asking for the extra tickets/accommodations from your work gives you a bargaining chip. In any event, it's something to think over.

If you decide to be gone for a week you can pump (I'd personally recommend renting the professional type from the hospital), or use a milk bank, or even check into the possibility of a wet nurse. As long as you pump while you're gone (god I hate pouring all that work down the drain!), you'll still have a supply when you get back...and just because your son will have taken a bottle for a week doesn't mean he's going to decide to wean. I'd also look into what your work can do for you in this area.

Regardless, you've got a ton of options....AND a lot of companies not only offer childcare subsidies, but also have relocation teams. If yours has either you can take advantage of both: the childcare subsidies can be put toward the extra two tickets (for your son and a caregiver) if your company isn't willing to spring for them and you decide to take him, and the relocation specialist for finding temporary resources both where you're traveling to, and here. (I just love relocation specialists...they're like walking phone books who tell you what you want before you know you want it.)

For legal rights to being able to refuse the trip and keep your job I'd talk to an attorney...just not one employed by your company. ;)

Good Luck

2 moms found this helpful

You do have legal rights to nurse your child. When my child was six months old, the father tried to petition for custody/extended visits. My lawyer informed me that even a judge cannot order me to give up physical nursing to go along with a custody order. And then two months later I had my pediatrician write a letter to stating that my child was exclusively breastfed, and an abrupt change in diet would be detrimental to the well being and health of my child.(I used this letter with my own employer, when they tried to force me into coming back to work before I was ready)
I would simply inform your employer that you are unable to go on this trip, due to nursing your child.
You do have workplace rights regarding nursing. Employers in Oregon are now required to provide on site nursing/pumping rooms for their employees. Please go to this page from lalecheleague.org(World Organization for Breastfeeding Education and Support), it is the page with US laws concerning breastfeeding families and how to implement those laws.
Good luck!
PS, if you do decide to go on the trip, a week without nursing won't make the possibilities of nursing again slim. You can express milk and overnight it to your baby, and continue nursing when you get home. You may have to reteach your baby how to latch on, but it is well worth it. What I would worry about is how it might affect your baby to not have physical nursing, but each child is different. I know my own child would have probably become depressed.

2 moms found this helpful

I don't really know what your rights are as a worker, but I know that I have similar concerns with my own job sercurity when down sizing is the current trend. Whatever you decide to do as far as travel plans go, you CAN keep nursing. If you don't have enough pumped milk for him while he is gone, he may need some supplemental formula. But you can keep up your milk production while traveling by pumping and continue nursing him as usual when you return. And in regards to the previous posting about your child forgetting you, you can be away well over 2 weeks and your child will know that you are his mommy! In being around the military, I have seen alot of parents absent for long periods of thime and even the infants remember their parents after several month absences. So don't even worry about that.

Talking with your employer is always worthwhile. They may be willing to compromise and they may not be - you won't know until you talk to them. But even if they can't or won't be flexable with you, you can keep nursing your child.

1 mom found this helpful

Are you just not taking your boy because of the long flight because you would be surprised as to how easy traveling with a young child is...especially if you breastfeed. I would travel with a 6 month old over a toddler any day! Now there may be other reasons also like childcare that you didn't mention. But I would say if it is just because you are worried about the flight I think you would do great.

Now this is coming from the mom who is worried about flying alone with two toddlers. But they are mobile and like to divide and conquer.LOL

1 mom found this helpful

You are not being forced to travel for work, your job description includes traveling and it wasn't an issue until you had a kid. Definitely let them know that you either want special accomodations or that you flat out won't go, but Oregon is an At-will Employment state and they can terminate you immediately. You can still nurse, even after a week and your kid won't forget who you are either, that starts to happen after being apart for 2 weeks. It can be tough leaving kids at any age but people do it every day and everyone survives. I can guarantee that your son will not even remember that you were gone.

1 mom found this helpful


I once went with my sister while she went on a business trip. She got them to rent us a long term stay location so we had a kitchen and couple of bedrooms. I took care of her daughter all day and she had a place to relax after a long day of work. A couple of days I actually took my niece to have lunch with my sister at her job site.

Consider if your employer will pay for those kind of accommodations. It worked out well for my sister. She now has her mother-in-law take care of her daughter if she has to be out of town. Sometimes they go with her....she has found that her employer was more accommodating then she thought they would be, because they did not want to lose a good employee.

good luck

1 mom found this helpful

Hi S.,

First of all, I would ignore the cold response you received from the individual who presumes to know what is in your job description. I work in HR at a large company and most of the other advice you received is more accurate. I would definitely start with a conversation with your manager. If it is that important to have you attend this meeting, then they should accomodate you and a caregiver so you can bring your child. I believe there is always a solution to these situations.
Good luck to you. I would love to see what happened with this. Please post if you have the chance.

1 mom found this helpful

Have you talked with your supervisor since this last trip has come up? Tried discussing compromises? My daughter was hired for a job that required infrequently traveling. When the first trip came up she told them that she'd rather not go because she didn't want to be away from her young children. One was still a baby. They found someone else to take her place on the trip. She said that they were easy to talk with. She expressed her understanding of their need as well as talking about hers.

Like the other mom, I would say that bringing a baby on the flight wouldn't be as bad as you think... especially if you'd be able to bring along a caregiver. I would talk to your employer about this option, and see if they'll pay for the extra ticket or at least split the cost with you.

The other option, pumping while you're away, would also work as well. Your son is old enough to remember you when you get back, and I'm sure he'd be absolutely fine with grandma, etc. for a week, and with the bottles (plus, I assume he's starting solids now, so that would help out as well). If you don't have a family member, the company might pay a trusted nanny.

I doubt that there are any legal rights in this situation, but check into it. Employment is most likely at-will, and if traveling is part of your job, they don't have to accommodate your wish to discontinue traveling. However, if you show that you are willing to work with them on the schedule (take the baby, or travel if they'll pay for the nanny), it might work out so that you can keep the career even with the new baby commitments.

Good luck!

You may be able to contact the state employment department and inquire what your rights are as an employee. If you are in WA State, it is an 'at will' state. This means that your employer technically doesn't have to even give a reason for letting you go, should they decide to take that route. To my knowledge, there really isn't anything that can be done about that so long as the employer makes certain their is nothing said about why they let you go.

Another option for you may be to take your baby with you and someone else who could help with the baby in the room while you are at your meetings. I think you should try to make an arrangement with your employer ahead of time so you could please them by attending (and keep your job) and be able to take your baby with you.

It's tough working and having a family. I feel for you and hope everything works out smoothly.

Find out how this Mama replaced her F/T income by working P/T in her PJ's!

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