Like other employers, the federal government takes the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law seriously. In recent years federal agencies have worked hard to provide their nursing employees with space, time, and privacy to pump at work. They know that supporting families in this way makes good business sense, increasing productivity and loyalty and decreasing turnover, health care costs, and employee absenteeism. Federal agencies have managed schedules in creative ways so that women can have the time they need to pump. They've also found a variety of permanent and flexible space options, even when space is limited.
No matter a lactation room's shape or size, the opportunity it provides is immense. When moms have options, they're free to make decisions about breastfeeding based only on what is best for them and their child. They breastfeed for longer, their babies are healthier, they miss fewer days for illness and doctor's appointments, and they are more focused, loyal, and productive.
But don't take my word for it. Read what these federal employees have to say about their experiences pumping at work.
Having a great support system makes successful breastfeeding/pumping while working full time SO much easier! With the support of my agency, supervisor, and coworkers, I was able to nurse/pump for two babies for more than a year while working full time. [I] am expecting my third child in October. I have no doubt that I will have full support of everyone around me to do everything needed to breastfeed and pump for this child for as long as I need to!
—Katie Clary, Human Resources Specialist, Defense Commissary Agency
Having a designated nursing mother's room that was clean, safe, and comfortable made transitioning back to work much easier. Being able to pump during my daughter's first year allowed me to provide a good head start for my child and focus on my career simultaneously. I'm grateful to the law and my organization for not making me choose between my career and breastfeeding.
—Tawana Townsend, Human Capital Transformation Lead, Army Materiel Command
Our agency created great breastfeeding rooms that are very private and helpful [and] equipped with refrigerators, lockers, and comfortable furniture.... Having the space enabled me to stay committed to pumping. My employer's support and accommodations gave my family the gift to breastfeed my first child [for] more time than expected. As a result, my child is very healthy.... I can only repay with loyalty, dedication, commitment, and great effort. I am very thankful for all of the initiatives and implementations that assist working mothers/working parents.
—Katiuska V. Tapia, Adjudications Officer, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security
Pumping in the mother's room was ideal! I was able to breastfeed my daughter for 12 months because of the awesome working conditions.
—Kristen Cahill, Plans and Operations Chief, G-2, Army Materiel Command
Thanks to the new regulations, I was able to solely breastfeed my second child for a year versus only 5 months with supplementation for my first.... Our second has been much healthier as a result. My supervisors were great about everything and supportive.
—Tonya Finlayson, SFPC, Foreign Disclosure Branch, G-2, Army Materiel Command
Businesses across the United States — including the federal government — have learned how to support nursing mothers at work in creative, cost-effective ways. If you need ideas, solutions, or more information about how your company can do the same, visit Supporting Nursing Moms at Work: Employer Solutions.
Supporting nursing moms makes sense — and it's the right thing to do.