Going back to work after having your baby may seem daunting, but having support from your employer and colleagues definitely helps. How do you approach your employer about your pumping needs? Should you give your colleagues a “heads up” about what your schedule will be like when you return to work? And what do you do if things just aren’t working out as planned once you’re back at work?
The Boob Group
Back To Work: Talking with Your Employer and Colleagues About Pumping
Please be advised, this transcription was performed from a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.
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PRIYA NEMBHARD: Going back to work after having your baby may seem daunting, but having support from your employer and colleagues definitely helps. How do you approach your employer about your pumping needs? Should you give your colleagues a “heads up” about what your schedule will be like when you return to work? And what do you do if things just aren’t working out as planned once you are back at work? We are The Boob Group!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Welcome to The Boob Group! We're here to support all moms wanting to provide breast milk to their babies. I am your host, Priya Nembhard. And I am also the founder of the “Moms Pump Here” nursing locator app which helps moms all over the world find great places to pump and breastfeed their babies. If you haven’t yet, we encourage you to download the New Mommy Media Network app which gives you easy access to all our episodes. You can also subscribe to our podcast through iTunes so our latest episodes can be downloaded to your mobile device automatically. And if you are on iTunes, please leave us a review, so other moms can learn about us. Let’s meet the mamas joining our conversation today! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.
HEATHER SHORE: Hi, mamas! I am Heather Shore. I am the designer and founder of Nourish Collection, which is new launching women’s wear brand, and we are trying to bring fashion and simplicity to breastfeeding and pumping moms. And I am also a single mom with a five year old. I pumped for about two and a half years. And I am actually still lactating, so…
PRIYA NEMBHARD: That’s great!
HEATHER SHORE: I would say I am a breast feeder, but, you know, we keep it going, so…
SUNNY GAULT: Heather, I feel like I am kind of in your boat a little bit, although I did breastfeed more recently than you. But I am in this stage of my youngest kids. I think I’m pretty much done, but I am still lactating and can go a long time without breastfeeding and the milk is still there.
HEATHER SHORE: It’s one of those things that I just marvel at our bodies! Like how did that even happen? How is that possible? I don’t understand it!
SUNNY GAULT: It is crazy! Hey, everyone! I am Sunny. I am producing today’s show. And you may know me, but I’ve got four kids. My oldest is six and I do all the way down to age almost three, I have twins that are almost three. And those are the ones I was telling you about. One twin is pretty much done breastfeeding, the other one just likes to check in every now and again and make sure there’s still milk, just in case she wants it, kind of an interesting situation there. And I am still lactating! I don’t really understand it. I don’t feel engorged. But I can go week or more without her checking in with me, and there’s still milk. So, how long this is going to continue? Anybody’s game! But you know, as far as today’s topic is concerned, I don’t have a lot of experience, you know, having to worry about pumping in an official workplace. With all of my kids I was actually working from home. But, Priya, I know you do have some experience with this?
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Yes, yeah… So, I am Priya, I am your host. And I also have three kids. And my oldest is now fourteen, and my youngest is eight, and my eight year old I breastfed for three years. So, don’t feel bad! And it more of a situation where I didn’t want to give it up, and my sister was like today’s the day, we are doing it! But it’s funny, because thinking about how long I was still continuing to lactate, I don’t remember. I guess my brain is mush now. I just don’t remember. But I have tons of experience with giving birth and having to go back to work. For my first two children, and then my last child, I gave birth and then I quit. For different reason we’ll get to later, but yeah, I definitely have tons of experience about today’s topic.
HEATHER SHORE: That’s what I think I love about, you know, all of our experiences, they’re so varied, but there are so many like little pieces that all of us identify with.
SUNNY GAULT: Right!
HEATHER SHORE: So, it is pretty great!
SUNNY GAULT: And I actually have a lot of questions, as you guys will probably see as we start the conversation, about how women handle this. Because I honestly, I am like I am not worthy, I am not worthy. Because what women have to go through, especially only getting only six weeks or whatever maternity leave if that, right, and then needing to go back to work. It is a struggle! And that’s why I think it’s so important for us to do these episodes! Because, you know, other people need to be made aware about it, and you know, we’ll talk a little bit today about how we can inform our colleagues and our employer, and just make it…you know, normalize it a little bit more so moms have a little bit easier time making this transition. Because I think that’s going to help them accomplish their goals.
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SUNNY GAULT: Alright, so let’s talk about a headline. This is a nice positive headline. And this is a genius idea. I really think we need to bring it. This article is based out in Kansas, and I really think that we need to bring this to, you know, wherever we are at, you know, in country. Like I am here on West Coast and need to bring it here. Priya, you are in New York city, we need to bring it there.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: I need to put them on my app!
SUNNY GAULT: Yes! Actually you do! Okay, so here’s what it is! There is a daycare centre. It’s called Learn And Grow Depot, I guess is part of it, I thought it was just Learn And Grow. Learn And Grow Depot. And they basically got this breastfeeding-friendly ID. So, it is like a certification. Nothing that they really went through, but, you know, it is not like they needed to take tests and stuff like that. But the idea is this: wouldn’t it be nice if moms knew…whether you are a regular business like a restaurant or something like that, or especially like a childcare facility. If you knew right away what the facility’s policy is when it comes to breastfeeding.
This particular daycare got this award. And it was given out by the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition, so they are a local breastfeeding coalition; a lot of cities have that. I know have that here in San Diego as well. And you know, it’s just…it’s a certificate that they got, and I think something goes on the door somehow, like a little sticky thing or something like that that says that they are breastfeeding-friendly. I love this concept! I hope they put it on their website! I hope they put it on all their flyers! Because if that’s really important to you as a mom, it may really helps to know that someone has done, you know, series of steps to get this qualification.
So, just a quick breakdown here: they have some written policies that talk about their commitment to breastfeeding mom, I’m sure moms could review these policies; they provide educational materials about breastfeeding to moms and families if they want that; they ensure their staff is trained to be able to support and promote breastfeeding for the moms that choose to do that. So, it is stuff like this. Again, it is not in an official certification kind of program, but it is just a quick thing that moms could know right off the bat we are making decisions like where our children should spend their days while we go back to work and so, wanted to get take on this. Is this a good idea? And how do we bring this to places across the country?
PRIYA NEMBHARD: I think this is an awesome idea! Oh, my Goodness!
HEATHER SHORE: You know, I think that we actually in Minneapolis have some kind of a program like this. We also have a coalition made up of doulas and midwives. And I think that we have something… I hate to say I don’t know exactly… But I know that we have really participatory hospitals and some, you know, daycare facilities that are…if it’s not this specific…obviously couldn’t be this specific, because it’s from Kansas, but if it’s not along the lines of this, it’s starting within this community.
So, I think it’s so needed! It’s so great! Especially if you are super committed to, you know, breastfeeding and pumping. It’s really nice to know when the organization that your child is spending time in or that you are spending time in, that healthcare facility really supports you and understands. I think the education is the biggest part of it actually.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Yeah, I completely agree! I mean, other than that fact that now I’m going to add them to the app. This… I think it’s all about community. And I think that’s what they are establishing here by… getting the certification I think it’s just extra bonus. But even having the staff members skilled and promote breastfeeding-I think that’s an extra step that any childcare centre can take for moms that are coming in and out, or just people in the community that just want to stop by and sit in a coffee place to breastfeed or breast pump. I think that’s awesome that they’re doing this!
SUNNY GAULT: Exactly!
HEATHER SHORE: That’s a good news headline!
SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, it’s a good headline! Yeah! We hear some negative here and there, but this is a nice, positive one! So, again, it would be nice if there were something. You know, this reminds me of… And I am sure you guys… I think you guys may have this. I don’t know, or maybe it’s a California thing. You guys have the stickers, or the window clings for restaurants?
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Mhm!
SUNNY GAULT: Okay, that’s what reminds me of. It is like A, B, C… I’ve never seen a D or F, but I am assuming they exist. That’s what kind of reminds me of. And we’ve seen different headlines in the past about moms or you know, business owners taking it, you know, just themselves to put something in the window or whatever. But I really like the idea of something organized! So, anyways… Not sure how to do that. If anyone has any ideas? But I think this is a great start; you got to start somewhere, right?
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PRIYA NEMBHARD: Today we are continuing our series Back To Work by talking about how moms approach pumping with their employer and colleagues. So, do you always talk to your employer first or Human Resources? I mean, what is the process that we need to go through? After we had the baby, we come back to work. Are we talking to them before the baby’s born? Or after? What have you guys done?
HEATHER SHORE: So, I can speak from… And I’ll just qualify, you know, my experiences. I can speak from my experience from working for corporations for some times. I worked for number of really large companies and small companies, but primarily corporations. So, every time you know, I either had a friend to go through maternity leave and come back, or I have, it’s been with the Human Resources Department. And I think the general rule would be to go to them first. Because they really have all of the hippo laws and all of the federal protection information at their fingertips, you know.
The secondary resource of course would be your boss. And they are very few bosses are specifically trained in knowing, you know, what your rights are obviously.
SUNNY GAULT: So, from someone that hasn’t, you know, directly experienced this, I always kind of wondered that. Because if you didn’t tell your boss first, would it be viewed that you are going over your boss’s head? But again, this is more of a HR matter.
HEATHER SHORE: Because it’s protected, and because it’s somewhat sensitive still.
SUNNY GAULT: Exactly! Exactly! And I wonder too, like Heather from your perspective. So, you went to HR first, because you know, you worked for more of a corporation type of an environment, a corporate environment. What did they say to you? Was there any kind of communication as far as okay, now that you’ve come to us, you know, you can tell your boss, or we encourage you to do this, or do they handle everything from there?
HEATHER SHORE: No, they really do. So, in my experience they really encouraged me to work out of schedule, because I was pretty forthcoming. I know that not everyone can be and I want to really validate that, you know, again, this is just my experience and not everybody has support and not everybody has the ability to do it this way. But I was told just, you know, thank you for coming to us, what questions do you have. Immediately I asked where the mother’s room is. Because I was actually new at the time, you know. It was more than five years ago.
And my colleagues were using meeting rooms. And we were running out of those. So, you know, getting pushed out of meeting rooms. Well, what are you going to do when a lot of your staff are women in childbearing years? So, figure it out, right? So, they did. And bravo to them! I got a key. And this was not… I will say, this was a couple of weeks prior to coming back from maternity leave. I didn’t take the approach of saying this is what I am going to plan for, this is when I am going to be back right before maternity leave. I gave a pretty general expectation of when I was going to be back.
So, it was a couple weeks prior that I went in and had the discussion with HR, and just said hey, look, this is what I need in terms of a break. And they said yeah, absolutely, you are given that right and we have facilities for it. So, I think again, it really depends on your circumstances, but HR is there in bigger corporations to protect those rights. Obviously they are there for the company. But there are rules that companies have to follow and they are, you know, knowledgeable of those.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Yeah, it’s funny you bring that up, because I’ve always had mixed emotions about HR. Cause I do have friends who are HR executives and they are there to protect the company first and foremost, and then the employees. And even by protecting their employees, they are protecting the company.
HEATHER SHORE: Exactly! They don’t want lawsuits, so…
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Or liability, or anything like that, right?
HEATHER SHORE: That is right!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: So, I… with both of my first two children, I actually went to my supervisor first versus HR. And it is funny, because my first job, my first child, I sat down with her… I must have start working like a month. And then I found out I was pregnant. And then I waited a couple of months before I told her. But she was pregnant at the same time.
SUNNY GAULT: Well, that’s helpful!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: I just started by the way, I am pregnant and then it actually happened to me twice, it happened to me twice. It happened to me with Jayden, and it happened to me with Liam. And with my…with Jayden and Ava, I had female supervisors and they were super accommodating and thankfully I had my own office. So, after the baby came… And both of them, both babies, I did the, you know, six weeks off. I think with Ava I took extra family leave time. But I had taken the normal amount of time off, I came back, I had my own office, so, I was able to pump. And with Ava I had to…I was more in the field, so, I had to really juggle.
But with Liam I got pregnant, I had a super great boss that was very flexible with me working from home. I had Liam and then I found out I was switched to another boss while I was on maternity leave and she and I didn’t have a great relationship. And I ended up nixing that job.
SUNNY GAULT: Because of your boss? Or something else?
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Because of the new boss, cause of the new boss. She was like I do not do working from home. And she was a mom too. So, I was just like I was really confused, you know. I went from this amazing person to this woman who I thought would be understanding and she was not.
HEATHER SHORE: Yeah, I think that surprising to a lot of moms going back as, you know, maybe sometimes the assumption that a boss who has a family may be a little bit more understanding. That’s absolutely true sometimes, and sometimes it is not. There are so many different personalities, but yeah. That’s something actually I was surprised at… We were talking earlier about our bosses, and my boss didn’t have children, he was a man, he could care less, but in that he said, you know, do what you need to do, I don’t know anything about this, so you tell me what the deal is. I was really grateful for that. So, thanks, Steve!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: And my guy, he was gay. And he had a partner and he patroness his children. But he was super kind and very flexible, you know. There were even like one or two occasions where I like dragged the child to work. And he was like oh, okay, you have your own office, just keep them in there.
HEATHER SHORE: We are doing this now!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: So, yeah, it definitely depends on who your supervisor is and what type of company you work for too. I think… I don’t know about corporate, but the non-profit world, I definitely feel in my heart is probably a little bit more flexible.
HEATHER SHORE: Yeah, the corporate is kind of a different animal. I think that if you've gone through corporate, you kind of…there’s this unspoken understanding of kind of some ridiculousness. It’s not all ridiculous, but some of it is ridiculous, so, yeah, in terms of rules and understandings, but anyway…
PRIYA NEMBHARD: So did you have a plan? Did you work a plan with your employer?
HEATHER SHORE: I took three months off for maternity leave, of course… I shouldn’t say: “of course” that varies. But I took… I really planned that out. And so, while I was out on my maternity leave, I was in communication with my boss and slightly with HR, but mostly with my boss, just in terms of okay, this is what you have upcoming for projects, this is what my schedule looks like, what are the meetings that we need to, you know, hit right away kind of coming back and hitting the ground running. And within that, that’s where I took the opportunity to say I am blocking out twenty minutes at 10 o'clock and twenty min at 2 o’clock for pumping. He said that’s cool.
You know, and ideally I would say… I reached out to a couple of my colleagues as well and just said hey, you know, I am excited to come back, you’ll notice a couple things on my outlook, this is what it says, those are my pumping times, as flexible as you can be, I would really appreciate it. You know, it wasn’t like the “this is the time I going…” because okay, we can be a little flexible. But at least that’s an expectation and it shows visually in front of my colleagues, you know, a calendar when they look up at what I am doing.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: It probably makes them feel that you are being respectful of their time as well by having that plan in place so that they can see when you are available, so it’s not like back and forth, right?
HEATHER SHORE: Right, exactly! I mean, I think more people understand when they understand, you know? They are more understanding when they understand what’s going on.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Absolutely, absolutely! I didn’t have… I don’t think so. It was so long ago! I don’t think I had a plan. I don’t remember plan. I just remember just, you know, them saying to me, you know, just make sure you have everything spaced out correctly, you know, you are attending your meetings, you are going to visit the clients whenever you need to. So, it wasn’t mainly putting a plan into a calendar, it was just, you know, just being respectful of all the schedules going on.
SUNNY GAULT: So, I have a question, again, from the perspective of someone who hasn’t gone through this, but one the things I would have been concerned of, is them… Maybe this is more for a smaller business than a corporate that would have HR and everything, like all their ducks in a row. But, you know, for smaller business, and especially if maybe it’s a male boss, like what do you have to… Like, if you know, you are going to go in and talk to him, whenever you decide to talk to him about this, like what tools do you really need to have in your arsenal? Because I am thinking I need to prepare for the worst case scenario and that is that they don’t know anything about… maybe that’s not the worse. Maybe the worse is that they are completely anti-breastfeeding!
But let’s just assume that they don’t know anything really about breastfeeding, or the rules, The Affordable Care Act, things that are maybe important. What would you guys recommend having kind of "been there, done that" you know, with your own personal experiences, that moms have in their arsenal, not in a negative way, but just to be able to say, if they get some pushback, you know, to be able to let them do the stuff they need to do?
PRIYA NEMBHARD: So, it is their right!
HEATHER SHORE: Right!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: So, you know, I think they should do, is just have laws and, you know, information, available for the employer. So when they go into that meeting, they have something putted out on their lab, and they’ve studied it a little bit, so, if they get any pushback from their employer about well, we are not really set up for that, you know, we are a small business, you know, it could be a little mom and pap shop or something else, just to have that information available at your fingertips, so can have that rebottle and have that discussion. And hopefully they’re flexible enough to work out something with you, and that they are smart enough to work out something with you.
HEATHER SHORE: And I am reminded of… I was reading this book called “Work, Pump, Repeat” and it’s by Jessica Shortall who’s done some TED talks on…
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Yeah!
HEATHER SHORE: Yeah, she’s awesome! She’s done TED talks and she talks about parental leave which is a really, a highly circulated as you can understand TED talk. But she has this chapter in her book “Work, Pump, Repeat” called “Talking to your boss about your breasts” which is fantastic! Because that’s what you feel like! I am talking to you about what my breasts reality is. You are talking to your boss about your rights and about your obligation. So, those are your…that’s the commitment that you made, right? So, this chapter and her book is fantastic. Maybe I can talk to her about publishing some of it for your listeners.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Well, I actually emailed her for another… So, I’ve done (inaudible) with her, not to get off or something.
HEATHER SHORE: Oh, that’s awesome!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Yeah, so I emailed her to do another podcast, so I am waiting. I am trying to work out a time with her, but yeah, she is amazing!
HEATHER SHORE: Yeah, she is!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Oh, my God, she’s on fire!
HEATHER SHORE: She’s a dynamo! So, she’s on fire! Yeah, but I think it’s really…you know, to take that kind of mystic out of and to not feel intimidated. You are in the right, you have rights, they are federally supported whether your boss in, and probably won’t be, cognizant of it, they can talk to HR themselves if they have a problem. You know, that’s part of what HR’s function is. Priya, to your point earlier, if you want to follow the rules, you have to follow the rules!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: But if you don’t have HR and you have a small business?
HEATHER SHORE: Yeah, that’s a little bit harder to navigate.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: That why you need…you need to be prepared as possible.
HEATHER SHORE: Absolutely! And also have a conversation. It is not about I am doing this regardless. It is more like okay, this is what I am committing to and I can’t wait to be back, this is…I mean, even if, you know, you are not super excited about me being back, this is what I am looking forward to doing and I need your support in this.
SUNNY GAULT: I think that is so true! And that is such a good point to make. And this goes, you know, for many things in life. But it is all in the attitude. Like if we go in there and demand stuff… Because let’s face it-in the media breastfeeding gets a lot of bad publicity, right? Because we are demanding stuff, and we are having Nurse Ins, and we are doing all that stuff. But if we go in there and say listen, this is really important to me and, you know, I am really excited about it, I am excited to be…you know, to come back to work and to be able to do my job, and this is part of me now, this who I am, you know.
And to be open, to be like listen…again, this is for more of a small business thing, but to be like hey, listen, I know we may not have like all of…you know, be prepared for something like this, but I am, you know, looking forward to, you know, trying to work this out and see how do we make the most of this, breastfeeding is important to me, I want to be able to do that for my baby when I am at home, which means I really do need to express my milk, or however you want to say it…and they might be like: express your milk? What’s that? But I really need to be able to pump at work, that’s just a really important part and to explain, you know, from that perspective where it is a partnership as opposed to making demands.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Yeah! I was just thinking about that word “partnership”, just throwing that word at them, you know, I really want to approach this as a partnership, because I am committed to coming back to work and hitting the ground hard, and just, you know…
SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, all the stuff employers want to hear, right? I am committed to you, I want to work hard, you know. And then this what I need to be able to accomplish that, you know.
HEATHER SHORE: Exactly! And I think then taking that a step further and including your colleagues. Because if you have your team on your side, if you have colleagues on your side, they will go to bat for you, they will support you and just normalize it, you know, in a meeting: oh, okay, someone needs to go, we are going to wrap this up in five minutes. And not even having to comment as to why, just respectful of everyone’s time. You are respectful of their time, they are respectful of yours. They support what you are doing. That’s a huge deal. So, having one friend, having several friends at work who get it, is going to help your commitment.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: And that’s leads us straight into the second half of our show. So, what about your colleagues? How much do they need to know about your pumping goals? And what do you do when things don’t go as planned? We’ll be right back!
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PRIYA NEMBHARD: Welcome back! Today we are talking about talking to your employer and colleagues about pumping when you are at work. So, let’s talk about colleagues. When should you start talking to them about pumping breaks? What about privacy? Like, what have you guys experience in ways of you… I mean, we’ve touched upon it already. What has been the reaction from your colleagues at work?
HEATHER SHORE: I was fortunate to work among a lot of women. And again, a lot of childbearing years, you know, women and as well as, you know, people who have had families for a long time and valued time with their families. That doesn’t mean that everybody supports what you are going to do. And certainly there has been pushback. But again, there almost always is pushback somewhere, whether settle or not, right? I think it goes back to what we said earlier about the state of attitude that you take. And sometimes, you are not going to satisfy everybody.
If you have your boss on board, that’s like one of the biggest support mechanisms. It is one of the best tools in your tool box, because you’ll be able to get accomplished what you want accomplished. If not, as, Priya, as you mentioned, it is going to be harder, regardless of whether you have support, you know, elsewhere. But I think the more you normalize it, and the more that people hear about the fact that you are not taking away from, you know, the what’s getting done, the project…I think we hear… The pushback in here is so anecdotal. It is not based on reality.
The reality is that we are actually more productive. Because we are getting done what we feel we should be getting done. We are navigating sometimes difficultly this huge pressure, right? So, I think that we are a lot more productive. And again, this goes back to studies. So, when all of this fails, bring up the studies. Bring up the data!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: You know, it is funny. Like you are talking about, you know, working with your colleagues and talking to them about what’s going on, and just, you know, being more productive. I have been in situations… I have… Well, when I had Liam, I did this… I actually did work from home during maternity leave. So, that leads me into another question. Do you think that moms… okay, now that you are on maternity leave, and you are in your work situation where you have your colleagues and you have things done, and you can’t be…and you want to be home with your child as long as possible… Do you think it’s a necessity to do work from home while you are on maternity leave? Like, do you think that’s the healthier thing to do? So, I know people who’ve done this. I’ve done it a little bit, and it was more of a pressure to make sure things we getting done and that I would still have a job when I got back.
HEATHER SHORE: Yeah! I mean, that has been the reality for most moms who have come back to work. Is that we felt that because, you know, other people felt that we weren’t entitled to this time with our children, which, of course, we all know, everybody else in the World gets it, right? We don’t get it yet in the US. We will! Mark my words, we will! But because of that, I think that there is a lot of pressure for moms to…and sometimes it is self, you know, imposed.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Do you think it is a mistake for them to do that?
HEATHER SHORE: Well, yeah, I do. I am just going to be candid. I do. Because 1) that’s not normalizing… And I say normalizing, I mean, you have the right to take the time. There is a real need to take the time that you need. This is a new person. This is a very short time in their whole life. And without getting into parental leave and the necessity of it, particularly here in the US, it sets a certain precedent when you work on the time that you are not supposed to be working. And that can go for vacations as well. People do that too. But this time is so short! And it is so demanding! It is precious! It is so demanding! It is so important for this time that you get to bond with your baby! And there is nothing that replaces that!
Now, that’s not to say that if a mom feels that she needs to work…and you know what? I did. I did, right? So, I am owning up. That’s not to say that you can’t also be really bonded to the child if you are also working. That’s not to say that at all. But the pressure, I guess, what I am talking about. The pressure to do that if you don’t feel that…if you feel pressured to work while you are spending time with your baby, during your time!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: And you said precedents. So, it does set a precedent. Because then your colleagues and you supervisor thinks that it’s okay to contact you for numerous things during the week, and…
HEATHER SHORE: And it devalues that time. It really does. It should be protected. It is in other countries.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: If you have a really close relationship with your co-workers, then I think it’s… It really depends on the person and your relationships that you have at work. If it is an environment that is very gossipy or, you know, people stab each other in the backs, I wouldn't recommend sharing too much information. But if you have great relationship with your co-workers and it’s really family atmosphere, then why not? Why not share it?
HEATHER SHORE: Yeah, my answer to that is no one in entitled to anything, because you are protected. Well, you are protected and you can share as much as you are comfortable with. So, if you are saying this is what…this is what I… No, I say that, but then it is to have any relationship and certainly with people that you spend eight to twelve hours a day with. To establish if you need them to understand some things, then absolutely share what you are comfortable sharing. But nobody is entitled to anything.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Yeah, that’s so true!
HEATHER SHORE: It is your business!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Yeah, they are not entitled to anything!
SUNNY GAULT: I mean, I agree. I agree they are not entitled to it. But I just think that, again, having that… I don’t know, that kind of mentality, could be harmful to the work environment if we are saying… You know what I am saying? It is a difference between someone coming saying… I mean, yeah, it is not like if someone’s prying, that’s totally different, right? But saying in a more relaxed kind of thing. Kind of like what we were talking about with the employer: hey, I want to work with you, I want this to be… you know what I mean? I am thinking of a team type of situation where a mom, you know, she has to get something done before teammates can do something, you know what I mean? And things maybe stalled a little bit because she has to take a pumping break or something like that.
Like, that’s the kind of stuff that I am thinking about where it’s more of a team type of environment and the team can’t get something done until something else is taken care of. And yes, you don’t have to explain everything to everybody. But they may be more supportive, again, going back to the employer thing, if they kind were in on it a little bit and be like: oh, this is really important to her. And you know, you are not required to give us all the details and stuff like that, but… And I think it also has to do really with what is your office setup. Are we talking about, you know, you needing…you having your own office…I guess if you had a cubicle or something like that, you wouldn’t be forced to do that, they probably need to provide a room for you…
But I don’t know, maybe there’s a situation where you technically kind of in a cubicle and your business is small enough that maybe they don’t, you know, comply with all the, you know, the laws out there as far as having a separate room. Those are the kinds of the things that would concern me, if I was a mom working in that kind of environment.
HEATHER SHORE: Yeah, and I guess that goes back to laying your ground work for… Your colleagues should be on board, or they should already have an expectation. That’s what I feel like… If you set an expectation before you go back to work, your time is already valued. So you don’t have to explain every time you go away, that’s already understood. If people are asking for well, if you pumped two hours ago, why do you have to pump now? Well, if they are your friend you can say go and do this…let’s talk about it at lunch. But if not, that’s really not their business, and that could be down the line deemed harassment.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Mhm, yep! And you know, even in the team meetings before you get pregnant and before your maternity leave. And when you come back and you have to do the pumping breaks, in those team meetings, you could have that open discussion as a team. So, everybody’s on the same page and know where you are coming from, and nobody’s, you know, saying anything on aside like why she’s doing that? You know what I mean?
HEATHER SHORE: Just doing it really on, yeah, exactly! And that’s not to say…that’s not to say people won’t have questions, because some might. I think a lot won’t. But, you know, some might and that’s why it’s so important to get people, like you say, Priya, consensus and knowing that there may be some curiosity and also being open to that.
I think that also what’s interesting is when you go in and you say: this is what I am going to do, some people aren’t expecting questions like: oh, how does that work for you, do we provide those things, and those kinds of things. So, no, you don’t have to give them information, but that actually helps a report, it helps the relationship, and it helps understanding. So, I think there is a balance there.
SUNNY GAULT: You know, I heard of a story with someone that actually has been on the show in the past. And I found it to be such a calming thing for me, just because I, again, I haven’t been through this, but I can imagine all the stress that this could put a mom under. But she actually said that… She worked primarily with men, which you think could be hindrance, because they wouldn’t get it, but she actually said that it was very helpful. These men in particular were pretty much all dads and their wives went through similar stuff in returning to work. And granted, not everyone is going to be, you know, in that type of situation.
But she said it worked out extremely well, that they were very respectful of her privacy. And I think it just goes to show how far we’ve come… I know we have a long way to go. But, you know… You know, for moms out that may, you know, have to go through this soon, don’t automatically assume that is the situation with you, you know, you working with a lot of men, you know…there’s hope out there! Because we are changing things. And I think that attitude is changing a little bit. Not to say that everyone’s going to be on board, but don’t stress yourself out over that. Yeah, I think there’s a good way to go about this. To be informative, but, you know, not to share too much or whatever. And therefore, for the most part, if you are working with family-friend type of people, they are going to get it, you know, at some level.
HEATHER SHORE: There’s a lot of support out there.
SUNNY GAULT: Right!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Okay, so what do you do when things don’t go as planned? Who do you talk to? I mean, in a small environment, there are not so many people that you can turn to, but there might be a support group on the outside. So, what do you guys think?
HEATHER SHORE: So, just from the corporate stand point, I kind of have two answers for that, depending on where you are. So, in a bigger company I would really reach out to, and I really encourage people to reach out to other mom who’ve pumped, who you don’t know yet, you know. They may be in different departments, they may be in your department, but maybe, you know, you don’t have a relationship yet. Sometimes that’s even better, because there’s not…they are not trying to play cape or make you feel better. They are going to give the down low and tell you, you know… And also, if it’s not going so well immediately in your immediate group work, then someone else, can be outside of your work group, can be a support. You know, because they get the environment that you are in often times in the same company.
The other, if it’s a smaller group, there are a couple Facebook groups specifically that moms goes to who are pumping or are just moms going back to the workforce, that it's really helpful to bounce ideas off of those member, because they are going through it, they can validate your feeling, you know, they can give you suggestions. And then you have a support network. So, I’d really, like in general, talk to other moms who’d gone through this. That’s a huge, huge support!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Yeah, I completely agree with that. And I’ve heard it from other moms too that, you know, they had to rely on co-workers that just went through maternity leave and came back, and had to pump in the office, or trying to juggle breastfeeding, and all that great stuff. So, I definitely believe that’s really important. So, what if you have a boss, and this would totally be discrimination, or something like that, that was just not cooperative, that always gave you the stink eye when you had to go off and breast-pump? What do you do in that situation? Like… I mean, obviously communication is the best way to tackle it, but, you know, it is about a very emotional thing too.
HEATHER SHORE: It is an emotional thing! And I think that it is personal too, you know, obviously!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Yeah!
HEATHER SHORE: You have a very personal, intimate thing that you have to address, sometimes uncomfortably in a professional environment. So, when it doesn’t go well, when the boss is just not getting it, I think it is really important to, you know, set up a time specifically to talk about it and say: I have this commitment it is hard for me to talk about… you know, be honest… it is hard for me to approach you with, because I feel that it hasn’t been supported and I want to answer question for you, and I want to work with you on it, I want to understand why…what you concerns are? You know, almost as with anything else. Go directly to the source, ask for their concerns and listen.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Do you think you need to involve HR? What about involving HR in that conversation?
HEATHER SHORE: Well, yes… I mean, the last, you know, if you’ve talked to your boss and it is just not happening, HR has to be notified. And that could start a series of… Frankly, you need to log everything. So, no matter what you are doing, right, you need to log and record communications, when you communicated, what you communicated and how you communicated. So, if you feel a resistance at all, start creating a log. Hopefully, 80% of the time, you won’t have to use it. Sometimes-that helps. And certainly if it is a case of discrimination, you are going to need a log of communication.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Thank you so much to everyone for being part of today’s show and for sharing their experience! If you are a member of The Boob Group, then be sure to check out the bonus content for this episode where we’ll discuss some additional resources for moms going back to work.
SUNNY GAULT: We love it when our listeners post question for our expert. We certainly want to get those questions answered. And today’s question comes from Emily. She posted this on our Facebook page which is a great way to get in contact with us! Emily writes:
My son is five weeks old…
SUNNY GAULT: Oooh! It’s a brand new baby, everyone!
…We breastfeed, but my milk supply has never been good, so he gets formula as well. I’ve been eating oat meal, drinking mother’s milk tea and water, and I’ve never been able to pump more than three ounces combined. Is it possible that I just can make more milk than that? Or is there something else I can do to help with my supply?
MICHELLE STULBERGER: Hi, Emily! This is Michelle Stulberger, an IBCLC in the Metropolitan DC area. First off, talk to an IBCLC in your area to get specific guidance for your situation. But here are a few things that generally help. Make sure that you are pumping with an appropriate pump. For moms that are pumping more that once or twice a day, you may want to consider renting a hospital grade pump. In addition, make sure that you are pumping long enough to get through one or two let downs, generally, more than about fifteen minutes. While staying hydrated is great, don’t overdo it, you just need to drink to thirst. Some moms find that galactagogue supplements like more milk plus, or galacta, are more effective than (inaudible), or the tea. Lastly, keep in mind your personal goal-are you working this out of your freezer and that’s making you feel that your supply is low? Is your baby being fed with appropriate paste bottle-feeding? These things can affect your perception of much milk you need to make. Good luck!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: That wraps up our show for today. Thanks for listening to The Boob Group!
Don’t forget to check out our sister show:
• Preggie Pals for expecting parents
• Newbies for newly postpartum moms
• Parent Savers for moms and dads with toddlers and
• Twin Talks for parents with multiples.
This is The Boob Group where moms know breast!
This has been a New Mommy Media production. The information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. While such information and materials are believed to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, medical advice or care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.
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