Let us not dwell on the misreporting in the media of the latest improvement in backing for working mothers to breastfeed*.
Instead let us actually embrace the fact that finally there is an explicit acceptance that for a new mother to return to work, they may need facilities to express breastmilk.
The press seem to have grabbed hold of this change to imply that it’s another nail in the coffin for the employability of women of childbearing age.
Not so, by being able to combine breastfeeding and working, employers will be enabling more mothers to return to work and making it easier for them to do so. Perhaps we might even attain a wonderful nirvana where expressing is seen as nothing out of the ordinary!
If I had not been able to express on my return to work I would certainly not have been back in the office as early as I was – my employer would not have had those weeks of productivity, those business trips, that revenue creation.
In fact, if it had been made harder than it was for me to express, I may even have refused to return to work.
But let’s be absolutely clear – the facilities that need to be provided are in general already available.
Most businesses will have a first aid room – this is all you need as a quiet and private space. And yes, a fridge is helpful but again it doesn’t have to be a designated one, mothers can label their cooler and most people are sensible enough not to grab just any bottle of liquid and tip it into their coffee.
Yes, we’d all love a comfy chair, a room with nice amenities but actually all we need is a power socket (and that’s not essential – I’ve expressed in airport loos before now).
What is most important is that employers (and everyone else) realises that it is very possible to combine working and breastfeeding and that making this happen means women are more likely to work, are likely to find combining breastfeeding and returning to work easier and therefore be more productive in the work place.
Yes, us working cows are currently few and far between but imagine a world where travelling with your breastpump was seen as normal rather than strange – imagine…!
I’m running a little competition to win some Liz Earle goodies over here. My RSS feed has moved so if you want to continue to read me, have a peek on this page for how to sign up. Thank you
*The idea isn’t to get lots of babies hanging around offices waiting to be breastfed, yes its great if your baby can come in for a feed but its more about having the space to express