And finally… a spot of good news!
Supervisors in San Francisco approved legislation that will require mothers to have a clean and private space to pump milk for their little ones. The legislation approval furthers California and federal law that already requires employers to make their best efforts to provide nursing mothers with lactation breaks. Advocates say the newly approved ordinance is a great victory for new mothers as it provides more concrete guidelines for nursing moms as well as for their employers. Under the new ordinance lactation spaces must be clean and include a chair and surface area for a breast pump. Spaces must also require an electricity hook up.
It seems like this ordinance should already be in existence considering we live in one of the greatest first world countries the twenty first century has to offer. Yet here we women are, fighting for a chair, a plug and somewhere to set our milk machines down. “We’re talking about something that is so basic, it’s almost sad we have to legislate it,” said Julia Parish, an attorney at Legal Aid at Work. “This is about working moms providing food for their babies.” For those readers out there who have not been “pumpers” themselves, let me weave you a tiny tale about one mom and her pumping woes in the work place.
Yes, yes, you guessed it. That woman is me.
I breastfed both of my older daughters before returning to the workplace, so when I did go back to my job I was a bonified pumping machine. I didn’t work in a office where I could shut the door and close the blinds. I couldn’t squeak in a pump session in between conference calls or paperwork. I was a teacher, a special needs teacher to boot. I could barely squeeze in a daily tinkle let alone a full blown pumping session or two! My work space was a classroom, which I shared with two lovely women who over the years had their fair share of having to catch a glimpse of my bosom while I milked away. I pumped behind a small, blue, partition wall, which was the only place I could ensure that an unknowing student would not stroll the halls only to glance over to my classroom and have to see his or her teacher’s breasts latched onto the pump. If I wanted a clean space to “work” I had to create it myself, which I did everyday at lunchtime. You see the area behind the blue wall was a space we used for students who needed fewer distractions from the larger group. Some of these students were prone to pretty epic meltdowns. Needless to say the surface behind the “pump” wall didn’t always stay clean.