47 Percent of Pregnant Women Have Considered Quitting for More Breastfeeding-Friendly Jobs

A new survey found that 47 percent of pregnant woman have thought about quitting their jobs to find workplaces that are more conducive to breastfeeding

Breast pump and bottle of breast milk near computer
Photo: Getty

This year brought major strides for breastfeeding women — it’s now (finally!) legal to nurse in public in all 50 states, and all major airports must have lactation rooms, thanks to a new law. But there’s still far to go, especially when it comes to breastfeeding in the workplace.

Returning to work after a baby is already a difficult time, but it’s often made worse because of lackluster options for nursing and pumping. And according to a new survey, pumping in the workplace can be so grim that 47 percent of pregnant women are considering quitting their jobs to find more breastfeeding-friendly environments.

The survey comes from Aeroflow Healthcare, who asked 774 expecting mothers in the United States between the ages of 18 and 40 about pumping in the workplace. Other results from the survey were similarly disheartening: 63 percent of women said they believe there’s a stigma surrounding moms who breastfeed at work, and 49 percent reported feeling concerned that pumping and nursing in the office would impact their career growth. Of the 774 pregnant women, 76 percent said they plan to continue breastfeeding when they return to work, but not all reported that they would have a place to do it.

While 47 percent of respondents said their office had a lactation room with pumping essentials, 29 percent said there is no such room. An additional 13 percent said that there was a designated area, but it was not designed for pumping. The remaining respondents were unsure.

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Thanks to an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act passed in 2010, employers are legally required to give nursing mothers time to pump, and a space other than a bathroom to do it. However, they do not have to pay mothers during this break time, and oftentimes the lactation rooms end up being storage closets or bare rooms in freezing cold basements.

“While we have made great strides in supporting breastfeeding moms, this survey clearly shows we have much more work to do,” Jennifer Jordan, the director of Mom & Baby at Aeroflow Healthcare, said in the report. “It is concerning that negative connotations around breastfeeding and pumping in the workplace still exist. Simply put, this is unacceptable and we must do better.”

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