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Nursing moms have specific rights for expressing milk at work

A woman who has a baby might decide that she is going to breastfeed the new child. This is often a challenging journey, but women who go back to work have the added difficulty of having to figure out how to express milk when she returns to the worlplace.

There are protections for these women so they can ensure they can feed their babies and still go back to work to be able to contribute to the financial support the family needs. Understanding these protections can help women to ensure they aren't being discriminated against just because they've chosen to breastfeed.

When do employers have to provide these benefits?

Any employee who has a baby has one year of protections for expressing breast milk. One important distinction for this situation is that employers who have fewer than 50 employees might be able to avoid having to comply if they can show that providing break time to express milk would lead to an undue hardship on the company. These breaks are unpaid, so nursing mothers should plan accordingly when they're trying to figure out how this will impact their pay.

What's required from the business?

The business has to provide the worker with reasonable breaks to express or pump milk. This will vary according to the situation. Typically, women with younger babies will need more frequent breaks while they establish their milk supply. Once the milk supply is established, the pumping frequency will likely change. Sometimes, the woman might need to have an emergency session, which is possible if she starts to leak or begins to feel engorgement pain.

The nursing mother must be provided with a private space that isn't a bathroom to pump. It has to be shielded from view of everyone and has to be a space where she won't face intrusion from anyone. Some employers take steps to make the employee comfortable, but this isn't required.

Employers might not always comply with the applicable laws regarding nursing mothers. When this happens, the woman might choose to take legal action. Typically, the goal is to get the time she needs to express milk. Damages might be possible in some cases, such as when retaliation is present. Any breastfeeding woman should remember that she does have these rights so she can take steps to ensure they are respected.

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