April 24, 2000 (New York) -- Although 48% of the workforce is female, according to the Families and Work Institute in New York City, breastfeeding is not yet a commonly discussed topic at the office. "Breastfeeding in the workplace is a need," says lactation consultant Rhona Cohen, "but it is a hidden need." If you'd like your employer to help enable you to continue breastfeeding, here's what to do:
- Make a decision in advance and share your intention with your boss. When you are several months away from beginning your maternity leave, tell your supervisor that you may want to continue breastfeeding after you return to work. This gives your employer time to locate or reallocate an available room if she or he is so inclined.
- Speak up. Ask for a space. If you do not have a private office to use, ask your boss if there is a room with a door that you could use for half an hour, two or three times a day, depending on the length of your workday.
- Inform your employer that some companies provide lactation support as part of an employee wellness program that includes the services of a lactation consultant.
Eileen Garred is a senior editor at Child magazine. She lives in New York City and has one daughter.