The medical implications of having a child do not end after the birth of the baby. Instead, the new mother will likely have health implications from her pregnancy for a month following labor.
Lactation or the production of breast milk is one of the medical consequences of having a child. The human body produces food for the newborn, even if the mother does not intend to nurse the child. If the mother does want to provide breast milk as a primary source of nutrition for the child, she may continue lactating for years.
Just as pregnant women face discrimination from their employers, so, too, do lactating or breastfeeding women. What are some ways that employers discriminate against workers trying to provide healthy food for their children?
They won’t give them space to nurse or pump
To nurse a child who can visit you at work during your breaks or to pump using a machine, you need private space. Federal laws require that employers provide a room other than a bathroom in which a mother can nurse her child or express breast milk. If your employer will not provide you with space, their refusal to accommodate you could be a form of discrimination.
They won’t give them the time necessary
Pumping breast milk or breastfeeding a newborn requires time. It can take between 15 and 30 minutes a session, sometimes longer, for a woman to fully express the collected milk.
Employers can require that women use their pre-existing breaks, including their meal breaks, for lactation purposes. However, the company should allow additional breaks as necessary so that the mother can ensure a steady supply of breast milk.
They terminate or demote a woman who asks for support
New mothers should be able to receive the support necessary to go back to work while making the best decisions for their children. Sometimes, employers will refuse to support a breastfeeding mother by denying her accommodations. Other times, they will start writing her up for minor issues or returning lower performance reviews to push her out of the company.
If you have experienced discrimination or mistreatment from your employer because of your pregnancy or lactation, you have rights. Fighting back against workplace discrimination protects you and other women who may work at the same company later.