Scene of the Crime #IPumpedHere Campaign
BY KARI CONNOR
Today I returned to the place where I pumped my breasts for 6 months about 19 years ago. It was a storage closet in the musty bowels of a turn-of-the-century office building. The door had no lock, so I placed a sign on the outside that read: “WARNING. High-voltage lactation device. Enter and you’ll be shocked.” And just in case someone couldn’t read, I pumped with my back up against the door. My last measure was to drop the blinds and put a chair against the side crack to prevent hall walkers from trying to peek-a-boo at my mom work.
This was a scene from 1998. After 6 months, I declared it a bust. As the only mom at work, rather than speak up, I quit breastfeeding — cold turkey. Bad idea. The mastitis and inadequacy I felt was worse than body-blocking the door a few times a day.
Cut to 2010. A mighty grassroots mom advocacy organization called MomsRising craftily sneaks a one-sentence provision into the Affordable Care Act requiring employers with 50 or more employees to give working moms “reasonable break time … and “a place other than a bathroom, that is shielded in view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public to express breast milk.”
Better than a bathroom. It’s a start.
That little storage closet I pumped in would literally be A CRIME SCENE by today’s law.
So how is America doing in giving moms “better than a bathroom”? Anecdotally, women in our office feel particularly compromised when they travel. They’ve experienced airports and conference facilities lacking clean, accessible places to pump. And in the news as recently as last week, pilots and flight attendants sued Frontier Airlines over the right to pump breast milk at work.
Data shows that, despite the ACA provision, 60%* of lactating moms STILL do not have access to adequate places to pump at work! Forbes responded to the study with this headline: “Employers routinely break the law when it comes to breastfeeding moms.” And of all who are affected, the women who struggle the most with combining work with breastfeeding are women in low-wage jobs.
In our current political environment, that 1 sentence in the ACA is under threat.
But there’s hope. WONGDOODY and grassroots organization MomsRising have teamed up to launch #IPumpedHere, a multifaceted campaign to drive attention to the serious lack of clean, legal places for breastfeeding mothers to pump when they return to work. Through social media channels and advocacy resources at www.IPumpedHere.org, the campaign empowers breastfeeding moms to share their pumping experiences as a creative tool to urge employers and lawmakers to expand protections for breastfeeding moms at work.
And we’re happy to report that through a fairly simple and inexpensive upgrade, both our Seattle and LA offices are not only meeting the requirement of the law, but exceeding it. Affordable Care Act brought American moms “better than a bathroom,” but it’s up to employers to do better for moms. WONGDOODY did that by following the simple AIA (American Institute of Architects) Best Practices In Lactation Room Design, a terrific guide to necessities for these rooms. My new-mom coworkers feel so inspired by the room, and most importantly, how it signals a work culture that completely supports their lactation plan.
What’s good for Baby is good for Mom. And what’s good for Mom is good for companies. After all, companies with lactation support have been shown to retain nursing moms at a rate of 94%.
*University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health National Study conducted post-ACA legislation