If you are succeeding at breastfeeding you'll want to continue when you go back to work. To do so, you'll need to pump breast milk while at work, you'll need to know your rights, and you'll need a plan. Specifically, you'll want to write a letter about your lactation plan that explains what you need to successfully continue breastfeeding. If you're unsure what to include in your letter we're going to help you out.
Know Your Rights Before You Draft Your Letter
Under U.S. law, employers must give all nursing moms of infants a reasonable break time and a lactation room that is private and sanitary (no, not a bathroom). The exception is if the company has less than 50 employees and has received a small-business exemption after demonstrating an "undue hardship". This means that the company believes they can't afford to offer you these accommodations.
Brainstorm with Others to Create Your Lactation Plan
Before you send a letter to your employer, consult your human resources policies about breastfeeding. Do they mention what they provide you? Do you see any roadblocks you need to tackle? Then start interviewing working moms inside and outside your company to learn what their lactation plan was like.
What's Great About Your Lactation Plan
To get everyone on the same page your company may request a letter outlining your lactation plan.
This is great news! You have the opportunity to find out everyone's expectations and you get to voice what you need. For instance, what will you need before, during and after you pump milk at work? If you've already had a conversation with your manager about your lactation plans include what you agreed upon in your letter.
When you return to work you may be sleep deprived. Having a plan will ensure your continuation of breastfeeding goes smoothly. This will be a huge stress reliever for you which is great because stress can affect your pumping.
A Lactation Plan Letter Just For You
Dear (Your Supervisor),
I am writing this email to let you know that I plan to continue breastfeeding my baby after I return to work around (approximate date your maternity leave will end). Here is the lactation plan I will need to follow in order for me to succeed.
I will need a private room with an electrical outlet in order to power up my pump. My priority for this space is privacy, not size. If you are considering creating a lactation room, like other companies, I'd love to provide feedback to help make that happen.
I will need to pump two to three times at regular intervals during my 8-hour work day to maintain my milk supply and to provide milk for my child. These breaks should be 30 minutes long. This time covers going to a lactation room, setting up the pump, disassembling and cleaning the pump parts, and then returning to my desk. Please let me know if you'd like to review any work schedule modification that may be needed.
Research suggests that lactation programs lower the amount of lost work time due to sick babies by 77 percent, and employees whose babies are breastfed experience one-day absences half as often as those whose babies aren't nursed.
As you know, I take pride in the quality of my work for (employer) and I want to assure you that I will continue to meet the same high standards you've come to expect from me. Thank you for your willingness to make accommodations for me and other nursing mothers to come.
Before You Send the Letter
Edit the letter to fit your situation and your companies policies. For example, if your company already has a lactation room (score!!) omit the paragraph that mentions that. Also, if there are other needs you know you'll want be sure to include them.
This is your moment to make your voice heard to help you succeed and also to keep your baby happy.
Last, view this letter as the beginning of a conversation. Expect to meet with your manager or HR manager to set your plan in motion. Once the plan is set everyone will adapt to your new lifestyle changes and will be better equipped to help you succeed at breastfeeding.