SACRAMENTO (KPIX) — Breastfeeding in the workplace could soon get a lot easier, and a lot more comfortable if one California lawmaker has his way.
Working moms know how hard things are.
Ruth Arevalo remembers the anxiety she felt returning to work after the birth of her son. She says she couldn’t bring herself to ask her boss for a private space to pump her breast milk.
“I’m a working mom and I just started work back a few months ago,” says Arevalo. “I just didn’t feel comfortable doing so.”
She says that led her to stop breastfeeding Josiah earlier than she wanted to.
“It’s just uncomfortable. You’re here to work, to talk about working, not about mothering.”
Stories like Arevalo’s are exactly why state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill supporting lactation spaces in the workplace in California.
“I think we’re going to get a lot of support,” says Weiner.
Right now employers are only required to provide a clean space that’s not a bathroom. This bill would go much further.
If it passes employers would have to provide a private lactation room with a place to sit, a table, a refrigerator nearby, and access to electricity. Companies would also have to give a copy of this policy to newly hired employees guaranteeing access to lactation space and protection from retaliation.
“Women should decide for themselves when to come back to work, decide for themselves how long they’re going to breastfeed and that decision shouldn’t be made for them because of poor access at work,” says Weiner.
Aravalo says having a private space to pump is crucial, but just as important is a law that supports this conversation that so many women are afraid to start.
“Its just really uncomfortable to speak about to your supervisor so if that can be written and already said and done when you first start your job then you don’t have to worry about it for the future.”
The bill is modeled after the law that recently went into effect in San Francisco.