Working Mom Does What Needs To Be Done To Pump Breast Milk
A nursing mother was forced into a desperate situation by her employer
Here’s a story that highlights just how badly employers still need to step it up when it comes to accommodating employees who are nursing mothers. A new mom in Ohio was recently forced to temporarily close the Family Dollar store where she works in order to pump breast milk. Because she was working a 7-hour shift alone, with no one to cover for her.
Emily Edgington is a 23-year-old mom to three-month-old Eliana, per Yahoo News. She says that while she was pregnant, she had informed several other managers — including the district manager — that she would need a place to pump. The store neglected to follow through on finding her a suitable location or adequate pumping break times when she returned after giving birth.
When a customer, Codey Burghard, went to enter the store earlier this month along with her husband, she noticed a sign posted to the door. “Sorry. Had to pump for baby and no one else is here. Be back in 30. Thanks.” She shared it to Facebook and it quickly went viral.
Burghard didn’t feel inconvenienced, but rather supportive of the new mom taking care of her needs when her employer apparently wouldn’t. “Even understaffed, moms gotta do what they gotta do,” she writes.
Edgington tells Yahoo News she didn’t think she’d end up having to close down the store entirely. “But my daughter’s health and being able to eat was my main concern,” she says. “I wrote the sign, took a picture to show my manager, prayed to God that I wouldn’t get fired or written up for it, and stuck it up on the doors.”
When it comes to pumping milk, most new moms need a full session — approximately 20 minutes, give or take — to properly empty their breasts and provide their little ones with the milk and nutrients they need. With Edgington working solo during hours-long shifts, she felt her hands were tied.
“I had two choices…run back and forth to pump every couple of minutes to check out customers or lock the doors and pump as needed — uninterrupted because that is my right,” she shares in a Facebook post after the incident went viral.
Even though the Affordable Care Act requires employers BY LAW to allow women to pump breast milk at work — in safe, clean, designated locations that aren’t bathrooms — so many working moms deal with endless b.s. when they return to work.
Edgington says when she returned to work, she was scheduled to work several five-hour and seven-hour shifts alone, with no one to work the register while she pumped in the back of the store. She tells Yahoo News that working two shifts without pumping left her feverish, engorged, with sharp pains in her breasts and chest. Which is an utterly unacceptable consequence of actions she was forced to take by her employer.
Which is why she decided to close the store during her next shift. She says she hopes the attention to this story will influence other corporations to amend their policies to be more supportive of new, nursing mothers.
“I encourage all mothers to look up their workplace policy and verify that all of their rights listed are being enacted,” she says. “If they’re not, do not be afraid to use your voice, and if they don’t listen after being told your needs repeatedly, do what you need to do, put up a sign, and know that you are protected.”