For working moms, continuing breastfeeding can be a big challenge once maternity leave is over. Proving that this issue knows no privilege, Chelsea Clinton explains the difficulties she faced in trying to pump after going back to work.
Clinton tells E! News how tough it was to integrate pumping into her schedule once her maternity leave ended after having daughter Charlotte, now a year old. “I think the one thing that I did find challenging was when I went back to work full-time. I still was breastfeeding and I was pumping and I was so committed to ensuring I could keep doing that for Charlotte, and balancing those logistics was really hard.” She echos the thoughts of many moms saying, “I wish there had sort of been a guidebook on how do you think about this really, and how do you make this work?”
So many women face the logistical issue of trying to pump throughout the work day. The difficulties are compounded if they travel for their job, as Clinton points out. “I figured it out, but it took a while to figure it out. It also just took lots of, like…swallowing my pride and being comfortable with pumping in airport bathrooms and kind of wherever I needed to get it done.” Even in a typical work setting, it’s hard to overcome the obstacles presented by pumping at work. Is there a clean place to do it? Is there somewhere to store the milk? Will taking time out of the workday put a mom at a disadvantage? Will co-workers act bitterly toward her for needing to cover a pumping break? There is so much to grapple with, it’s no wonder many mothers opt to stop nursing when they go back to work.
Chelsea acknowledges that every mom has a different circumstance in returning to work and therefore, the solution to making pumping work won’t be the same for all mothers. “I’m guessing recognizing maybe every woman has to figure it out for themselves [is the secret], because each of our situations and decisions are different.” That said, there are certain things all moms need to successfully pump at work. A clean and private area to use is a great start, but moms also need the support of their employer and the understanding of their co-workers in order to continue nursing after maternity leave. This is easier said than done for many women and results in some deciding to stop nursing before they’re ready. This is a sad reality for a lot of working mothers and someone like Clinton speaking out about it can only further the cause.