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Breastfeeding at Work: It's your right

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Posted on Jan. 21 Bookmark and Share

Breastfeeding mothers of infants enjoy special protections in Oregon when they are returning to the workforce.

Breastfeeding mothers of infants enjoy special protections in Oregon when they are returning to the workforce. In 2007, the state government recognized that improving breastfeeding rates would be an important health issue, and the best way to do that would be to support breastfeeding mothers at work.

Overall, breastfeeding mothers should be provided with a private place to breastfeed or pump while at work, and should be provided adequate, unpaid breaks which they can use to express their milk.

Oregon's law further defines this, and says that breastfeeding mothers are allowed to have an unpaid 30-minute break during each 4-hour shift to breastfeed or pump (with exemptions for some small-business employers).

Federal law also defines that the private place provided for breastfeeding should be a private space that is not a bathroom.

Working through creating a workplace breastfeeding environment often requires conversation between employer and employee. La Leche League International suggests taking a friendly, helpful, cooperative attitude to work out breastfeeding issues with an employer. For instance, working out breaks may require you to tack on an extra half-hour of work at the beginning or the end of the day, and figuring out a place to express your milk may require some brainstorming (or hunting for a space) on your part.

The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) provides some helpful materials, including a guide for employers and a sample letter (Word doc) for mothers who intend to breastfeed at work.

A final, interesting tip for breastfeeding mothers: Oregon is one of only 12 states that allow breastfeeding mothers to be exempt from jury duty.

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