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Working Mothers Still Struggle to Find Pumping Space

Every time Meagan Cavanaugh tries to pump breast milk, she braces herself for the sound of a coworker’s knock on the door. Her breastfeeding room is the same as the conference room at the national non-profit she works for. She has to sign up for a time slot to use the room, like everyone else in the office, to reserve pumping breaks for the next day.

“Two of three times I’m there, people are trying to get in, completely disregarding that it’s reserved,” Cavanaugh said. “To pump successfully you need to be mentally relaxed and it’s challenging when people are always knocking.”

The Federal health care law, or Obamacare, includes a provision that will allow women in Cavanaugh’s position to have access to private pumping rooms. The legislation requires employers to provide a room other than a bathroom for women to pump milk and ample break times to use the room.

Instead of forcing employers to recognize the health needs of mothers and babies, the law has had little effect on labor practices. Employers are either unaware of the law or fail to meet minimal standards, such as privacy and cleanliness. The federal government has offered state breastfeeding coalitions the funding needed to reach out to businesses and inform them of the new law’s requirements.

Breastfeeding became important to the health care law when it became labeled a preventative health measure for both the mother and baby. Marsha Walker, lactation consultant and registered nurse, said breastfeeding is vital ...
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