BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Effective Friday, federal protections expanded for new mothers in the workplace under the updated PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act.
International Board-certified lactation consultant Amanda Helms works to educate new mothers about their rights. She explained the Pump Act has closed a lot of loopholes from the original 2010 law.
“Now a lot of teachers, nurses, even farm workers, have [expanded] protection under the new law,” Helms said. “A lot of these professions have women that are of childbearing age. So, this is a great updated law, and I think it’s important for employers to remember it’s so good to invest in these women. Research shows for every dollar you invest in breastfeeding and protection of breastfeeding, you get a $35 return,”
She often advises new mothers that are anxious about going back to work after maternity leave to develop a plan with their employer while they are still pregnant.
“And it’s good for employers to start talking to their pregnant employees asking, ‘what are your goals? How can I support you?'” Helms said. “Because mothers tell me that they feel valued and respected when their employer approaches the subject.”
Helms says new mothers are required by law to have a private space that is not a bathroom where she feels comfortable.
“If a mother feels stressed or anxious that somebody may walk in on them, their milk probably will not flow well,” Helms said. “A pumping space should be more like a kitchen because your breast milk is food, and you’re preparing this food for a new human.”
For more information, visit dol.gov/whd, which is the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour division.