If you found yourself on this website, then you know breastfeeding is an important aspect of infant and child health. The benefits of breastfeeding are widely recognized. However, breastfeeding can be a challenging task, especially for mothers who work outside the home. If you are a working mother, you may be wondering “how long can I legally pump at work?” Fortunately, the law recognizes the need for breastfeeding mothers to continue providing breast milk for their children even when they return to work. In this article, we will explore the legal aspects of breast pumping at work for mothers whose children are over 1 year old.
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Breast Pumping Laws in the United States
The United States has several laws that protect the rights of breastfeeding mothers in the workplace. The most significant of these laws is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which requires employers to provide reasonable break time for nursing mothers to express milk for their children. The law also requires that employers provide a private, clean, and safe place for mothers to pump milk, other than a bathroom.
In addition to the FLSA, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) amended the FLSA to provide further protection for breastfeeding mothers. The ACA requires employers to provide break time and a private space for breastfeeding mothers for up to one year after the birth of their child. This means that mothers can continue to pump breast milk at work until their child is one year old. While this law is wonderful, it does mean that pumping at work after one year is not protected.
It is important to note that these laws only apply to employers with more than 50 employees. Employers with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt from providing these accommodations if they can demonstrate that it would create an undue hardship.
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Benefits of Pumping Breast Milk Beyond One Year
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life and that breastfeeding continue, with the addition of complementary foods, for at least one year. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding up to two years of age or beyond.
Related article: How to Transition Your Baby to Milk–Everything You Need to Know
Breastfeeding provides numerous benefits for both the mother and the child. Breast milk contains antibodies that can help protect infants from infections and illnesses. Breastfeeding can also reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), childhood obesity, and diabetes. And according to the CDC, breastfeeding can also help mothers by reducing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease.
So knowing these benefits, how long can you legally pump at work?
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Breast Pumping Legally at Work Beyond One Year
Breast pumping beyond one year is entirely possible, and many mothers choose to do so. Breastfeeding beyond one year is known as extended breastfeeding, and it is a common practice in many cultures. Breast milk continues to provide numerous benefits for the child beyond one year, including continued protection from infections and illnesses. You liquid gold also adapts to the changing needs of your growing baby and provides essential nutrients.
Breast pumping beyond one year can also be beneficial for the mother. It can help maintain milk supply and prevent breast engorgement, which can be incredibly uncomfortable and painful. Breast pumping can also help mothers feel more connected to their child and can be an excellent way to maintain the bond between mother and child.
Related article: How to Stop Pumping (Finally!)
However despite all of these benefits, mothers who are considering how long can they legally pump at work should know that the answer is one year. There is currently no pumping at work after 1 year law in the United States.
If your workplace is complaint with the Fair Labor Standards Act of allowing you to express milk and has provided reasonable break time, ask your manager or Human Resources representative if you could continue your current schedule of pumping at work. You may even decide to drop a pump session as your child transitions to other types of milk. It may be helpful to tell them when you plan to stop pumping, so that they know this isn’t a permanent change in your schedule. You can also list the above health benefits that breastfeeding has for you and your child.
If You Can’t Legally Pump at Work after One Year
If your workplace will not allow you to pump breast milk at one after one year, you do still have options. Your pumping journey does not need to come to an end if you are not ready to stop pumping. At one year of age, your pumping supply will be very well established. Many mothers will stop pumping once their baby reaches one year of age, but will still breastfeed their baby before and after work. Here some additional pumping options if you cannot legally pump at work after one year:
- Pump on your commute. We have a comprehensive article on how to pump on your commute. Pump on your way to work and your way home from work.
- Pump on your lunch break.
- Do a quick pump session during any break times you have.
- Keep a manual pump with you and use it in the bathroom or a private office if you have access to one.
Related article: When To Stop Sending Breast Milk to Daycare
Though there are no pumping at work after 1 year laws, you do not have to stop pumping if you and your baby are not ready to make this transition. Make adjustments to your schedule where needed and keep in mind that you are doing what’s best for you and your baby.
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