Mom of 6 Month Old Pumping at Work: New Pumping Schedule, Too Much to Ask?

Updated on May 05, 2010
K.L. asks from Minneapolis, MN
26 answers

My pumping schedule at work is changing and I need to make a decision on what I want to do. Previously I had been given two 30 minute chunks of time (my day at work is scheduled in 30 minute chunks all day long due to billing reasons) to pump, which worked great. It gave me enough time to reallly relax, pump, and clean up, sometimes with time left over to use the bahroom and call daycare. But, for whatever reason, my employer has decided this set up is no longer an option. So, these are my choices:

combine my two fifteen minute breaks to have 30 minutes to pump in the morning, and use my lunch break at around 230 to get another 30 minutes of pumping in. this would completely eliminate my lunch break, which i think is an important part of maintaining my sanity. (i work in a high stress environment, working with kids with autism, i need a break in the middle of the day!)

give up a half hour of pay to pump 30 mins in the afternoon, and use my 2 15 min breaks to pump for 30 mins in the morning. BUT, this would push me under the number of hours needed to be eligible for benefits (health insurance!).

i offered to come in a half an hour earlier in the morning to avoid either of these terrible solutions, but was told that unless it's for "company need" i won't be able to extend my hours.

to me, this seems awful! i feel like they're making it SO difficult for me to continue nursing my baby (she's already 60 breastmilk 40 formula) which i really want to continue doing, but with these options...i feel like i'm at the end of my rope with this issue and part of me is sick of fighting it.... what do you think?? am i overreacting?

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answers from Sioux City on

Keep fighting it and no you are not overreacting! They have to by law allow you breaks to pump. I'd look more into that if I were you. Hope that helps. Fyi: You also don't have to do it in the bathroom unless that's the only area that is private and has a lock.

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answers from Houston on

I don't think you're overreacting, but also not able to be objective. You've done a great job so far and I think you can keep it up.

If you can, ask the HR department to mediate the discussion. It is reasonable to expect an explanation about why they are changing your set-up.

You do have some protection under Minnesota law and your employer set a precedent by allowing your previous schedule.

That being said, I do believe that you have an obligation to your employer. I was lucky to work with a very supportive company. I managed to pump for a year even while traveling for work. It didn't mean that I never missed lunch or had to be flexible.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

If I were you I would contact the local Le Leche League to see if they can help you. Here is an example of a quick search I did...this one pertains to the state of California...

Here's info from LeLeche on trying to convince your boss to let you pump at work:

You may have legal grounds for a discrimination lawsuit.

I don't think you are overreacting. This is VERY unfair, especially since you offered to come in early to accommodate the extra time you need to pump during the day.

I STRONGLY suggest you document everything with dates, times, who you talked with and the outcome of the conversation. Also I suggest ALL conversations with your employer about this are followed up with written communication, as in, "Per our conversation today....".

You don't mention how big your office is, however I suggest you bring HR into the loop if possible. Even if you are asking someone to come into the office from out of town, that's their job! You are not putting them out.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Unfortunately, I'm not sure you're going to have a lot of help from Minnesota law on this one. Here it is:

Minn. Stat. § 181.939
181.939 Nursing Mother
An employer must provide reasonable unpaid break time each day to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her infant child. The break time must, if possible, run concurrently with any break time already provided to the employee. An employer is not required to provide break time under this section if to do so would unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.
The employer must make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location, in close proximity to the work area, other than a toilet stall, where the employee can express her milk in privacy. The employer would be held harmless if reasonable effort has been made.

You could bring in the law and talk to them about it, though.

Here's my other suggestion. If pumping is going to make your life miserable, for whatever reason, can you cut down to nursing twice/day? I am a teacher, and I was just never comfortable pumping in a building full of high schoolers. But I nursed both my kids in the morning and at night for a good long while. I know it's not ideal or what you want to do, but it might be a compromise that you can live with.

I'm sorry your employer is being jerky about this. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

The suggestions from the two ladies below are great - document everything, check with the leleche league, perhaps also with a lactation consultant as they tend to be aware of breastfeeding related legislation. Check with HR when you know the breastfeeding related rules.

I don't think you should give up your lunch break either - it might not even be legal...

It would also be worth finding out why the "rules" are changing? Is something going on within the company that you don't know about? I know the economy has affected businesses in a lot of ways and they may be tightening the belt for everyone and this is how it's manifesting for you.

I have a crazy suggestion for you, though i don't know if it'll work. When I pumped, I had this REALLY goofy double pumping bra - it was like a "non-bra" had holes to hold the pump suction cups on my breasts so I had both hands free. Depending on the type of work you do, if you can find this double pumping bra, maybe you can do some easy stuff while pumping; that way, you're not on break technically and everyone wins. Or stay an extra 15 min at the end of the day? This will show that you're willing to work with them if they are having difficulties, but that you are also dedicated to the health of your child. Good luck



answers from Minneapolis on

I don't think you are overreacting...I hate inflexibility, which then leads one to wonder if that is the right environment for you to continue working in...I think Moms need employers who are willing to be a little flexible in exchange for keeping valuable employees happy..never mind that breastfed kids are sick less often, etc, etc....

In the meantime don't let them decide whether your baby continues to be breastfed! You should make the decision when to wean yourself. How about cutting out one pumping session during the day but adding some pumping each time after you nurse? That has helped me to increase my milk supply overall and you could get an extra 5 or 6 oz a day that way. Or maybe you could just pump for 10 minutes at each of your two 15 minute breaks and then for 15 minutes at lunch (still giving you 15 minutes to kick back).

On a side note: Women, seriously, can we band together and get some kind of law protecting pumping and breastfeeding? It doesn't seem we're asking too much. It's going to save them money in the long run with less sick days and keeping employees...not having to keep hiring and retraining when women leave because they need to care for their families.

Good luck...let us know what you decide and how it turns out. I've also got a 6 month old! :)



answers from Green Bay on

NO you are not over reacting! Breastfeeding is the most important thing to do for your child. I believe that it is against the law for your employer to do this to you. If it were me I would research the law. But you cannot be deprived your right to give your baby breast milk. I would put my foot down, and tell him that you need to continue your previous arrangement, or you will pursue things legally. But that's just my opinion. Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

This may not be the kind of answer you are looking for, but is there anyway you can go part-time or be a stay at home Mom? Everyone's knee jerk reaction is that they can't afford it, but there are so many places you can trim the budget if you want to make it happen. We just went down to one car to help with our finances. My husband works downtown, so he can take the bus. The "sacrifice" has been completely unnoticeable. You can also save money on groceries by having the time to make homemade meals, and shop for bargins, etc. Maybe you aren't at all interested in this, but you can probably find a way around the financial hurdles, and it is so wonderful to be home with your baby when they need you most. Also, breastfeeding is so important to their health. Good luck to you, and congratulations on not giving up on breastfeeding.



answers from Bismarck on

It think it would be better to pump for 10 min twice a day(and use the extra 5 to clean up etc.) and do the full 30 min at lunch than to drop a pumping. It's very difficult to fit pumping into only 15 of break time but it's really better than dropping a session. Is there any way you can push this issue by threatening to report them as being prejudiced against breast feeding mothers at work? I mean this is a big issue right now and just getting bigger. I know the laws probably support your employer but they are supposed to help you find a way to continue to breast feed. How lame they won't let you come in early! PLUS you work with autistic kids and there is so much research that shows how important food is to all children, especially children with autism!



answers from Dubuque on

go to your union rep.! tell your boss about the benefits of breast milk. If need be get a note from your Doctor, Pedi., and lactation consultant. Talk with your lactation consultant as well they may be able to tell you more about the laws around/ for nursing moms. You are not alone, there are ways for you to get around this. good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

Here are some good links for information regarding breastfeeding and employment: and

The first link has excellent information on useful ways of talking to your employer about how breastfeeding your baby IS actually in the best interests of the company - e.g. mothers who breastfeed are statistically less likely to miss work due to baby illness among other things. They provide a couple links to to congressional reports and findings that back up this research, which you could show your employer.

The second link provides an overview of various federal and state laws regarding breastfeeding and employment. Currently in MN, your employer MUST provide a location for your to breastfeed - other than a toilet stall - which is reasonably near your workstation. They also must provide unpaid break time for you to pump. They aren't - unfortunately - required to provide any paid break time. It does sound like your employer is within their legal rights to ask you to do your pumping during unpaid time. =(

What kind of breast pump do you have? If you can invest in a Medela Advanced pump-in-style, this could drastically reduce your time pumping, and thus allow you some time to do both pumping AND lunch. The Medela can pump both breasts at the same time, and the bottles can be nestled in stabilizing "stands" that sit on the table in front of you...essentially you hook yourself up like a cow to an electric milker. =) But then, potentially, you could have your hands free to eat lunch or read a book while you are pumping. And when I was breastfeeding and using the pump-in-style, I could empty both breasts in 10 minutes max, usually. (Though it DOES vary from woman to woman).

I would avoid threatening legal action as long as possible - or at all - if you could. That can make for a really unpleasant work environment, should it eventually become not feasible - not to mention expensive. It doesn't sound like your employer is doing anything illegal, however un-accomodating or "cold" it may seem.

I would start by sitting down with your employer and show them the research behind how breastfeeding DOES benefit the company and try to convince them to let you come in that 1/2 hour earlier everyday. I think that is your best course of action if you really don't like the idea of pumping on your lunch break.

Good luck, and let us know what happens!



answers from Duluth on

two this: get ahold of a local or nearby la leche league leader. she will be able to get you more specific help and information on pumping. this could be a time when you have to speak with your boss candidly about the benefits of you breastfeeding your son - one of which involves in less time you have to take off for illness!! they are going to have to be more flexible, this is horrendous behavior.

also, ask your la leche league leader OR look online for breastfeeding legislation in your state. most states have LAWS that would require you to have time and space to pump during your work hours. this whole "company need" thing is stupid; if you are going to take a half hour off during the day to pump, then it IS "company need" for you to have that extra half hour somewhere isnt it?
good luck. and no matter what you end up doing, keep breastfeeding. it doesnt have to be all or nothing.
the OTHER thing you could do is to nurse completely on demand day or night at home, (its easier to do lying down than you think) or even pump an extra time at home. it will take a bit to get your body used to the timing of an extra pumping session, but your body can and will adjust the milk supply to when and how often you need to nurse/pump. just remember that when you are with her, you should ALWAYS give the breast, not a bottle. pumping cannot stimulate the breast in exactly the same ways as direct nursing anyway, so it can affect supply and the fat content in your milk; milk comes in 2 "forms" : the first milk (foremilk) is sweeter, thinner and has less fat; the next (hindmilk) comes from deeper in the breast, it is full of healthy fats for your baby to grow. sometimes when pumping this balance can get mixed up because its harder to have the hindmilk let down when pumping. an imbalance can cause a cranky baby with gas, green stool that is almost diarhea-like, etc.

anyway, so just nurse nurse nurse, put in one extra pumping session at home sometime when baby doesnt need it and even though you might not get a lot at first, keep at it, like i said your body will adjust. it IS possible for you to only pump once a day, but its just gonna take a little bit of time to make the switch. good luck!! and thank you for breastfeeding!!!



answers from Omaha on

I think you should get in contact with your HR representative. It is my understanding that your employer, by law, has to allow you time in your work day to pump for your child. I completely think it's unfair that they are changing the rules on you and making it difficult for you to pump. I hope that everything works out for you!



answers from Minneapolis on

I would carefully read the legal links that Sarah H. provided. Your employer is legally required to provide unpaid time for you to pump at work. If this means that you need to come in earlier or stay later to get your billable hours in, this (seems to me to) mean that they need to let you do that.

Of course you want to keep your discussions and your relationship with your employer professional. AND you want to stand up for your rights. If we all, as women, give in with no discussion or don't push back (or go to PT or quit our jobs), employers will continue to make life difficult for mothers at work.



answers from Des Moines on

You work with Autistic kids, and are facing this kind of idiocy from management? Have you tried going over your supervisors head?

I don't know what kind of pump you are using, but when I was pumping, I found that the avent hand pump was 10 times quicker and more efficient than the machine pumps. Furthermore, because you are pumping directly into a storage container, and there are so few working parts, cleanup was so much easier. I could easily get pumped out in 10 or 15 minutes --- (compared to a much longer time with the machine pump)

I would honestly raise hell about this. Its a fight worth fighting.

Best wishes to you!



answers from Lincoln on

Follow this link:

If the link does not work, I suggest typing in breastfeeding laws.

Basically the federal law has changed this year and they are required to give you time to pump. They do not have to pay your for it. Minnesota law has been pre-empted by federal law - your employee may not know this yet, so you can inform them.

First I would contact human resources and explain my problem. It is possible your direct supervisor is not really adhearing to company policy, but a policy he/she wants to inforce do to his/her own agenda. HR can help mediate and a good HR person will work with you and your manger to find a solution. Another alternative is the company counselor or assistace person. If this is a state agency, you most likely have someone like this so find them and enlist their help.

If you do not have a HR department, then I would print multiple copies of the law and pesent it to your supervisor. There is always a bigger fish in the tank, so perhaps you can contact someone who does have the power to make this happen. Is it possible you can find a way to provide a company need for you to show up early or stay late? Are the kids around earlier or later? Is there something you could be doing that would make the company better? Can you give up part of your lunch hour and eat with the kids? Be creative in your solutions and you will find something useful.

Handle this in a firm, yet professional manner. "Good morning sir, I really love my work and want to do everything in my power to do a good job and be a team player. As part of the team I really need you to understand how important it is for me to express my breastmilk...." Be direct and to the point when discussing.

Always be polite and professional no matter how they react and you will get what you need. Be extremely professional - I cannot stress that enough.

Do not listen to those who tell you to buck up because others at work are complaining. As long as you are keeping up with your work you are doing your job. Some people need to mind their own business and keep to their own affairs - all that busybody nonsense takes up valuable company time. Talk about being hipocritical!

Good Luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

I admire your efforts in breastfeeding. I, too, did about the same thing until my daughter's 1st birthday and am still really glad I did. What worked for me was: 1) pumping during lunch or somewhere in the middle of the day.
2) pumping on the way to and from work in the car. Now, this sounds weird but it worked and I guarantee absolutely no one else ever knew. I had a Medela Pump In Style and bought an accessory that allowed me to plug it into the cigarette lighter. I also had a Medela nursing bra and bought the 'hands free' attachment which connected to a couple of rubber bands inside the bra. The tubing went up under my shirt and there was absolutely nothing that anyone else could see. It worked for me for 9 months! (BTW, the hands free attachment was great at other times, too, so I could read, write or do other things WHILE I was pumping. Maybe you could do notes at the same time!)
Also, MN has a law about allowing mothers to express breastmilk at work, so you might want to give the Dept. of Labor and Industry a call and ask them about it. I would do this before getting a lawyer involved and making your employer feel threatened. I'm surprised they wouldn't let you come in 1/2 hr. early to allow 2 pumping sessions... Keep up the fight, it's worth it for your baby. Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

I'm sorry you're having to face this difficult decision, I've stressed over how and when to pump as well. they don't sound very accommodating.

I applaud you in your efforts to continue breastfeeding your baby - even if she's also taking formula, research shows that the benefits of being partially breastfed are the same as being 100% breastfed.

Here are some strategies that might make the workplace stress a little more manageable, while still getting the most breastmilk to your baby as possible:

- Nurse baby well in the morning
- Nurse baby right when you get home
- Pump on the drive to and from work - using a hands-free set up
- Try out using your 15-minute morning and afternoon breaks to do mini-pumping sessions. If that doesn't work, you can fall back to your first scenario.

A few personal stories to maybe ease your frustrations, showing that pumping doesn't need to be part of the equation for you to continue giving your baby the benefits of breastmilk:

For my baby, I pumped from 6 - 9 months at the office, 1x a day, over lunch. Then I stopped because I was only getting 1 ounce per session. But I continued nursing in the mornings, evenings and night until she was 1, then just at night until she was 2.

My cousin's baby, from the time she returned to work, would not take a bottle from anyone. He basically went on hunger strikes all day long, and waited till she came home. So she nursed him a LOT in the evenings/overnight, and he's very plump and healthy, but it was just in those hours that they were together.



answers from Des Moines on

I have a 30 min lunch and two 15 min breaks. I pump for all of those, doing about 8-12 mins. of actual pumping for the shorter breaks and 15-20 mins for the longer one. My work actually changed our break schedule recently, too, taking away one of the 15 minute ones. I still pump, but I use that time to do my paperwork. I admit that it's kind of a pain to not have a "real" break, but I find that I can read a book and decompress pretty well while still pumping. It sounds like your job is pretty hands-on, but if there is any paperwork that you could do while pumping, it might be worth considering trying to combine work with one of your pumping sessions. Sometimes you have to be creative!

I agree that you should look into the law. While nursing mothers shouldn't be getting extra paid time off, we should be given the ability to do something for our kids that more and more research supports as being the healthiest alternative for our babies.



answers from Rapid City on

Well, it looks to me like you really only have one option, and that is your first. To take your 2-15 minutes breaks and combine them in the morning to have a 30 minute break to pump. And then take a later lunch, allowing you to pump again in the afternoon.

Personally, with all of the concerns surrounding health care, I would not even consider dropping your hours below what is necessary to keep health benefits!! The cost out of pocket is unbelievable (I pay almost $600 a month for a private plan!!), and that benefit as an employee is so valuable. You'd lose not only in your pay, but also in your additional expense of purchasing it on your own. Or, going without and risking it, which is a price I personally would never want to pay.

Also, if you cut back your hours, when you are done nuring your employer may not be so willing to give those hours back. They could easily argue that you can do your work in less time, so there is not a reason to pay you for additional hours. It would be an uphill battle.

Good for you for wanting to conitinue to nurse and provide breastmilk for as long as possible!! I think a few months of not having a lunch break over the typical noon hour will be difficult, but tolerable for the time being. When you decide to stop nursing, you can go back to your previous daily schedule and in the scheme of life it won't have been too bad. Best wishes!!



answers from Milwaukee on

I've spent over two years pumping at work...I'm a teacher--also high stress with little flexibility in times. When I needed a place or time or whatever, I'd just literally be totally open about my needs with my male principal--he'd be so embarrassed about the entire conversation that I'd get what I need (which basically meant an excuse to be late to a meeting because I certainly couldn't be late to teaching a class!). Anyway, sounds like your best option is the morning break time and lunch....pumping sucks ( no pun intended), but as moms we know it's best, so we just deal with it however we need to. Get a hands-free bustier so you can still work or eat or read while pumping--that helps to make the best use of your timewhile you
sit. What I missed most usually while pumping was social contact--every free moment I had was spent in my secret pumping "closet." Good luck--hang in there!!



answers from Appleton on

Hello - I agree that it's wonderful you're trying to continue to breastfeed your baby. However, you must also take a step back and look at it from your employer's and co-workers' perspectives. So far, they have in essence been paying you to pump for that one 30 minute period that was not covered by your breaks. How is that fair for your co-workers? Not only is the company paying you to pump, but it's also leaving them to fill in for you while you're out doing that. I'm sure that is why your employer has changed their mind, both because they don't feel like they should be paying you to do something that isn't work related and because they've had complaints from co-workers. I don't necessarily think your employer is trying to be "mean" or "discriminate" against you as others have eluded to, but I think they're just trying to enforce consistent policies across the board. They can't go around giving everyone 30-minute paid periods to do things their children need. I'm sure there are a lot of other parents that have child related activities they'd love to do for 30 minutes a day and get paid for. The new choices your company is giving you are very standard. Yes, they are required to give you time to pump. But they are not required to pay you for it. To give you the option of combining your breaks and use your lunch period for it are pretty typical. I, myself, was a manager of a site and pumped on my lunch period, because I felt that was the right & fair thing to do.



answers from Minneapolis on

call your lawyer and get ready to fight this if you can. I am unsure of MN law and your company's policy related to Breast feeding which may make it not something you can fight.

I was discriminated against when I chose to start a family myself (not related to breast feeding) Unfortunately there are employers, especially male employers (not assuming that your's is one) that just don't get it.

Pick your battles. and good luck.



answers from Minneapolis on

i think this is against the new laws-i think they have to let you go pump when you need to...sounds like discrimination to me-call the state labor dept.check your rights.good luck



answers from Omaha on

I believe you are lucky to have been given extra time for awhile. The majority of company's wouldn't have done that. Most mothers that I a aware that are working use their 15 minute break to pump and then a portion of their lunch. Your company has been more than generous in the past and probably due to other employees complaints that you are being asked to discontinue the previous arrangement. if you can't work within their time frame you may to discontinue to pump or try and different time regime.



answers from Cedar Rapids on

First off - congratulations on doing the pumping so far! I had to pump at work also and I know how difficult that can be. Secondly - I do not think you are over-reacting. Your work should really be more understanding. But, since they are not, there are other ways to figure things out. Have you asked if you could have 20-minute breaks? When I was pumping I had my two 15-minute breaks down to a science.
I would pump last thing before I left in the morning. Then, for my morning break, I would pump six or seven minutes on each side then clean up. I always pumped at lunch but if you need to de-stress then you should definitely take the time for yourself! In the afternoon, I would again pump for 6 or 7 minutes on each side then clean up. Usually this did not take any longer then 20 minutes and mostly it took less time. And lastly, I would start supper then pump first thing when I got home. The only other way that might work, but did not for me, is to pump more often at home and not to do it at work. It did not work for me because I couldn't get enough milk going at night if I hadn't pumped during the day.
Anyway, I hope these ideas help a little for you!

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