Who should help you on the first day back at work?

Who should help a pumping mom?

A not-so-rookie mom wrote to us, venting that it was a colleague’s first day at work after maternity leave, and the HR person who was supposed to be showing her where to pump tossed the responsibility over to our reader, suggesting that since she had re-entered the office as a pumping mom in the past, she could orient her co-worker.

After setting up a table at which this new mom could pump, finding her an extension cord, etc, thinking, “I’m just paying it forward,” our veteran mom had second thoughts. “Is this my job?” she asked herself. She didn’t even know the new mom, and here she was, helping this woman out with her boobs.

She told me that her experience is that “it falls to other moms who have paved the way to support those that come after — both for pregnancy leave as well as pumping at work. ”

Each state has it’s own laws that protect breastfeeding workers. In California, employers can incur a fine of $100 for each time they violate our law which states that women get both time and a private place to pump. That’s great, but it doesn’t clarify who should provide encouragement, approval, and support for pumping moms. Which means it usually falls back to a mom-to-mom network to normalize the practice of taking pumping breaks, of storing milk in the fridge in the office kitchen, and of carting around the tell-tale black tote bag of the double electric pump.

What do you think? Should employers step it up and master their own work re-entry welcome ritual or should they rely on the sisterhood of mothers in the office to take care of one another?