One in three breastfeeding women are being forced to use the bathrooms at work to express milk due to a lack of suitable facilities, a new survey finds.
The research of 2,000 mothers who had a baby within the last five years found they were encountering a ‘shocking lack of support’ after returning to work. More than half of respondents (56 per cent) revealed they had to express milk in inappropriate places, such as staff rooms (18 per cent), inside their car (14 per cent) and at their desk (11 per cent). This resulted in 30 per cent encountering problems while trying to express milk and caused them to stop breastfeeding earlier then they would have liked.
What are the current laws for breastfeeding at work?
Employment law only states that breastfeeding mothers should have a place to rest. There are no legal requirements that an employer must grant paid breaks for a woman to breastfeed or express milk for storage.
The founder of campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed, Joeli Brearley commented:
“Forcing women to use a toilet to create food for their baby is not only unhygienic, but it makes female employees feel embarrassed and undervalued in the workplace.”
While seven in 10 of the women said their employer never broached the subject before they returned to work, 29 per cent said they were too embarrassed to have a conversation with their employer about breastfeeding.
Feeling unable to approach the topic left many of the survey respondents suffering negative consequences, such as embarrassing leaks (22 per cent), feeling excluded from conversations (13 per cent), and being left out of important meetings (11 per cent).
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