Being a mom is one of the greatest opportunities I have been given. I am keenly aware of the fact that being a parent is a gift, and I feel so grateful and blessed to be able to walk this journey as a mother. I have learned to be sure that I’m present in my life and especially with my tiny humans. I take all the GSD attributes seriously, but this one–be present–is especially significant to me because of the responsibility I have to my tiny humans to make sure that I am fully present with them as much as possible. My tiny humans have taught me and continue to teach me so much. Once you are open to the process of being present, you will be amazed at what you can relearn by looking at things through the eyes of a tiny human!
Some of the most surprising and most hurtful experiences I’ve had with women co-workers inappropriately using their voices happened during one of my pregnancies.
One particularly offensive moment happened after I returned from maternity leave. A female co-worker reported me to Human Resources because I kept my breast milk in the refrigerator. According to that co-worker, no one wanted to see my breast milk. As a result, Human Resources mandated that if I were to keep my milk in the refrigerator, I would have to make sure it was in a container that no one could see through. Imagine coming back from maternity leave after a traumatic birth experience and having to deal with petty complaints about the kind of container that held your breast milk or the do not disturb sign on your office door so that you weren’t interrupted while pumping.
As a mom that pumped exclusively for both my kids, there was a lot of coordinating and planning that was required for this. My husband and I often worked together to schedule activities that aligned with my pumping schedule; he would call ahead to make sure there was a place that I could pump, and he built a makeshift pumping spot with privacy in our car as our last resort.
We are Nashville Predators Hockey season ticket holders, and Bridgestone arena has always been family focused, ensuring that all patrons have whatever they need. I remember him coming home from one of the hockey games to tell me he had scouted out the pumping room. He was beaming with pride because it had different chair types, a fridge, sink, and even a TV, so moms wouldn’t miss any of the game. Not only did it have everything the mom would need, but it provided room and necessities for the partner, the baby, and any other siblings. Smashville for the win!
Living this experience in the moment was at times stressful, and I immediately thought about other moms that may or may not have the support that I did. As a result, I made it a point to seek out an organization or community that supports moms through this season.
Meet pumpspotting! They’re on a mission to make this world a more inclusive place for baby-feeding families. Their feel-good mobile app gives parents everything they need to confidently navigate feeding at work, at home, and on the go. Their workplace lactation program helps companies create supportive experiences that not only support business outcomes like inclusion, recruitment, and brand promise, but help parents feed their babies. No small feat!
I’ve invited pumpspotting to join this important conversation to continue to bring about awareness and education.
When you first hear from moms, what are they typically looking for in terms of support?
pumpspotting: When we first hear from parents, it’s generally one of two situations.
The first type of feeding parent we often hear from is the “brand new parent,” when doubts about whether their baby is getting enough to eat start to creep in. Most of the time a quick check in, via email, post or video call to review signs of a well-fed baby along with tips on how to increase supply (if they want or need to) is all it takes to boost parents confidence.
We also hear from so many parents who are expecting their second child, and feeding with their first didn’t go great, so they’re searching for prenatal breastfeeding/pumping/chestfeeding support and education. There can be much guilt, shame, and comparison around motherhood. We love to boost parent’s confidence, bring a smile to their face, and feel like a warm hug from their best friend.
With pumpspotting, all parents are able to quickly connect with a supportive community. This peer to peer support is one of the best joy and confidence boosters available to parents, and so many from our community turn around and pay it forward to the next parent. It’s truly amazing to be a part of.
pumpspotting, what is the biggest challenge you see in corporate lactation programs in the United States today?
pumpspotting: When we’re chatting with organizations, we often ask, “Do you have a workplace lactation program?”
Nearly every time, the answer is, “No, but we think we should.”
Many organizations know they need a lactation program or want to elevate their current lactation support but they don’t know what is needed and they look to us for guidance.
Space is the first thing most people think of when they think of lactation support and while that is important, it’s not the only piece.
Feeding a baby doesn’t end when the work day ends. So, offering a lactation program that works means support that’s available 24×7, wherever parents find themselves. When companies invest in strong lactation programs, it’s like a bat signal for women and families.
If there is a corporation reading this that wants to support their current and future moms, what is the best next step?
pumpspotting: Organizations should look at how they’re currently supporting their parents and ask themselves, “are we taking a proactive and inclusive approach?” When parents are thinking about building a family, they often ask themselves, “Is this where I want to be when I’m building my family? What type of support is offered?”
A comprehensive program helps organizations broadcast commitment, and lets folks know that, yes, this is where they want to grow their families. We’ve got systems and practices in place and we’ll support you along the way.
Additionally, compliance should be reviewed. The PUMP Act grace period ended on April 28, 2023. At its core, the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act is a federal law requiring that breastfeeding workers be afforded a private place (must not be a restroom), as well as the time to pump during work. There are three key elements:
- Expanded lactation accommodation protections to nearly all breastfeeding employees, including 9 million salaried parents not previously covered, for up to one year after a child’s birth;
- Clarification that pumping time counts as time worked if an employee is not completely relieved from their work duties during the pumping break; and
- Enhanced options to seek compensation as recourse against employers in violation.
Providing only what’s required for compliance sends a message of tolerance rather than inclusion. Integrate required accommodations into a more complete lactation program to not only signal support for women and families, but to improve outcomes while reducing medical claims, costly turnover and absenteeism.
If an organization is wondering how they can create or further build their lactation program, we invite them to reach out to pumpspotting. We can assess their current program and provide recommendations on how to strengthen their offering while supporting their talent and DEI strategy.
Any final thoughts for moms or families out there that are currently walking this chapter out right now?
pumpspotting: We want to tell all of the parents out there, in the thick of it, that you are truly amazing. We see the depth of how hard this all can be and we want you all to know you are doing a great job! Find your community of parents who lift you up. Parenthood is a wild ride full of ups and downs and there simply is no right way to do any of it. There is only the right way for you and your family in the moment you are in. Do not hesitate to reach out to a professional, even when you think your question is small. Evidence-based information makes a world of difference. Hop onto our app and see what truly inclusive, judgment-free feeding support can look like. We would love to meet you!
Thank you so much for what you do. Your work is so important.
If you are a mom reading this, and this resonates for you in some way, be sure to reach out to me or pumpspotting for any questions or support you might need. Know that you are not alone. The full time job of pumping to provide for your baby is something to be really proud of and not ashamed of. You are working two full time jobs; extend yourself some grace. We are here for you!