Monday, December 6, 2010

Breastfeeding and the Working Mother

As I continue to breastfeed my second child while teaching full time, I've come to realize how few teachers actually pump milk for their children once they return to work.  In the 3 1/2 years I've been teaching at my current location, five other women have had children and returned to teaching before their babies were 6 months old.  Only one of them breastfed and pumped after returning to work.  The truth is, it is hard to pump milk when teaching at our over-crowded school.  There is no opportunity to close the door and pump in the classroom while grading papers.  Every classroom is used every period.  In fact, every single room in the school is used for something: an office, a classroom, a meeting room.  There is only one place left.....the bathroom.

According to Oregon law (and federal mandates put into place by the new health care reform) an employer with more than 50 employees must provide a space other than a restroom for mothers to express milk and the breaks necessary to do so.  I do get the opportunity to pump every 4 hours, but that is my prep time which means I have to do the grading that would have happened during those breaks on my off-time.  Also, pumping every 4 hours is not enough to feed my 5 month old son pure expressed breast milk.  His daytime bottles are mixed half-and-half with formula.

As I browsed the list of employers who have been recognized by the state of Oregon for following, and pioneering, the mother-friendly workplace guidelines, I noticed not a single school district was listed.  Am I the only person that finds it appalling that public organizations devoted to the care and development of children do not support breastfeeding mothers?

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