After nearly two years at home with this little lady, the time finally came for me to get my butt back into work. Never before had I been so excited to go to work. I think only fellow mama’s will get this – my friends with no kids thought I was nuts. The idea of peace and quiet, adult conversation, weeing alone and hot coffee seemed pretty damn sweet to me. But I totally forgot about one small thing… oh you know, just the fact my tiny human still screams at me for “boobie” five times a day. What were we going to do about this whole nursing situation with me at work? Would I pump at work? Go into Eva’s daycare to feed? How would that impact my working hours? So many questions, something was going to have to give, right?
I feel so incredibly lucky that we’ve been in the position for me to stay home full time with Eva for nearly two years and I know that’s not always the case for everyone. I’d always just assumed she would have weened herself by the time I went back to work, but little lady just seems to still love the boob!
With Eva being nearly two I decided we’d just try and wing it and see how she went during the day with no breastfeeds at daycare. And you know what? It was totally fine, no issues at all. But this got me thinking what it must be like for other mamas. Those that need or want to return back to work in the earlier days. What options do they have at their workplace? Do they have to make the heartbreaking decision to choose their career over breastfeeding? Surely in this day and age that is not the case anymore, right?
Chatting to my friends about this topic, I’ve heard such mixed reviews. Some have felt fully supported as they’ve returned to work. They’ve been provided with a “parents room” to pump and given multiple breaks throughout the day for this purpose only. Whilst others have had terrible experiences. Think pumping in a dark dingy meeting room with people barging in. Another friend who works in retail had to pump in their stock storeroom with delivery men going in and out. It’s kinda shocking and unbelievable.
There’s so many workplaces not pulling their weight and providing women with the appropriate facilities to continue their breastfeeding journey, but in saying that, there are also the ones out there that are killing it in this department. They’re recognising that we should have the support we need to do it all – keep nursing and continue our careers. Origin Energy are hands down one of these. I think they’re actually kind of leading the pack. Despite the fact that a large percentage of their workforce are male, they have rolled out dedicated breastfeeding facilities in not only their corporate offices, but also in their remote and regional sites too. This is a total first for the energy industry. What an example to everyone else huh?
I was recently having the conversation with another mum about breastfeeding-friendly workplaces and the topic of whether we should only be pumping strictly in our lunch breaks came up. She explained she could only pump during her lunch break. Oh, how this made me so super mad. So, it’s okay for people who pop out for a few coffees a day to not have this time taken off their lunch break? But women who are doing the juggle of working and feeding their baby are not entitled to this time? And don’t even get me started on smokers who probably work an hour or so less than everyone else a day when you factor in their “smoko” breaks. Origin Energy provide extra breaks for their staff specifically just for breastfeeding, in addition to their normal breaks, so there’s none of this sitting-in-a-dark-room-pumping-whilst-eating-your-lunch-and-then-racing-back-to-your-desk thing going on. Hallelujah. Why oh why are more companies not taking this approach? In this day now, (we’re in 2017 people!) it shouldn’t be a choice that we have to make. It shouldn’t be one or the other, we should have the facilities readily available to us to continue our career, whilst being able to breastfeed. More companies like Origin Energy need to stand up, make the change and support women as they choose to return to work and continue to breastfeed.
I’d love to hear your experiences if you’ve returned to work and continued breastfeeding your bub. Did you feel fully supported or were you one of the majority given a dark backroom to pump in?
Go take a look here at the Origin Energy story about creating a family friendly workplace. How does your workplace measure up?
This collaboration was sponsored by Origin Energy.