published Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: Please tell “Privacy Please in Santa Clara, Calif.” that she does not have to pump her breast milk in the bathroom. Depending on the laws in her state, she may be entitled to request that her employer create a dedicated pumping location for new moms.

Pumping in the restroom could endanger her baby’s health. That new mom needs a clean, private space to pump and should ask her boss for help in establishing a special room.

Kudos to “Privacy Please” for doing the very best thing for her baby. Hopefully her employer will realize what a valuable, dedicated individual she is and accommodate her needs so she can continue her high-quality work performance while also taking care of her little one. — NURSING MOM IN TEXAS

DEAR NURSING MOM: Thank you for raising the issue about the laws pertaining to new nursing moms. Several states have expanded their breast-feeding laws to include provisions that protect a mother’s right to express milk in the workplace. California requires employers to provide break time for employees to do this and to make reasonable efforts to provide a location other than a toilet stall, with a penalty for noncompliance. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I, too, was the first new mom in my office who faced the challenges of pumping in order to continue providing my baby with breast milk. It makes me cringe to think that “Privacy” has to resort to using an unsanitary bathroom stall for this task.

There is legislation in her state that requires her employer to supply her with a room other than a toilet stall for privacy. The La Leche League Web site at www.laleche league.org is an excellent resource for breast-feeding moms and provides links to this legislation as well as laws in other states. — ALICIA IN DULUTH, MINN.

DEAR ABBY: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has put together a tool kit to help employers understand and take the necessary steps to support breast-feeding employees. Recent studies show that there are many advantages, including lower absenteeism rates and improved productivity. An information booklet titled, “Easy Steps to Supporting Breastfeeding Employees” can be accessed online at www.ask.hrsa.gov. — HELEN IN CHICAGO

DEAR ABBY: My employer suggested that I pump in the women’s restroom. I replied that I would be happy to do that if the CEO would like to prepare his lunch there as well. It’s ridiculous for a nursing mom to go through the process of sterilizing every part of the pumping apparatus and then have to finish the process in a public bathroom. I hope her company will change its policy because it has been proven that breast-fed babies are healthier — and as a result, parents are less likely to miss work to stay home caring for sick children. — CONTENT MOM IN VIRGINIA

DEAR ABBY: I am proud that I am still able to provide my baby with breast milk after nine months while working full-time. I posted a sign on my office door that reads: “Food prep! Door will be unlocked at (insert time).” It gives my co-workers a chuckle. — STILL NURSING IN NASHUA, N.H.

DEAR ABBY: My wife hangs a sign in her office that reads: “I make milk. What’s your superpower?” — MARRIED TO A SUPERMOM

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