What You Should Expect from Your Supervisor

You should expect:

  • Clear information on your employer’s lactation policy and support services
  • Flexible breaks allowing you to express milk on your natural schedule during working hours (you generally have to make up the lost work time)
  • Unless you have your own private office, a clean, comfortable, quiet and private place to express milk at work
  • Respect for your duties as a mother, including breastfeeding, from your supervisors and fellow employees

Tips on Approaching Your Supervisor

Most employers are happy to provide the support you need, as long as they know what your needs are and how important it is for you to have their support. If your company does not have a breastfeeding support program, it could simply be that nobody has asked for one!

Your supervisor may not know what you need to continue breastfeeding. Be sure to discuss these important reasons to breastfeed with your supervisor:

  • Simply explain your basic needs for privacy and flexible breaks to express milk.
  • Use the sample letter that can be found at this link.
  • Show how meeting your breastfeeding needs will benefit the company
    • Employees are less likely to miss work to take care of a sick baby because the baby is healthier. (This is true for moms and dads.)
    • Health care costs are lower since both baby and mother are healthier
    • Employees who receive support for breastfeeding are happier and more productive
  • Explain that you are committed to keeping the milk expression area clean when you are through, storing your milk properly, and not taking longer than necessary for milk expression breaks
  • Be a team member.
  • Be sensitive to the issues that are important to your company, and show how supporting your efforts to breastfeed can help both of you accomplish your goals
  • Be sure to show your appreciation for efforts made by your supervisor to support your breastfeeding
  • Be prepared! Consider possible concerns your supervisor might have. (See Section Below).

Possible Reactions from Your Supervisor – and How to Respond.

“We have no space for a pumping area.”

  • Look around and find a space that you are willing to use.
  • Remind supervisor how small a space is needed (even a 4’x5′ space can work!)

“The other employees might complain if you take time to do this.”

  • Encourage coworkers to learn about the benefits of breastfeeding to your and your baby’s health.
  • Remind them that this is a temporary need for you and your baby, and that you will use your approved breaks.

“If we do this for one person, we might have to do this for others, too.”

  • Remind supervisor that supporting breastfeeding benefits the company and is the law.
  • Remind supervisor of other company approved breaks, such as smoking or exercise, if offered.