You are probably on a pink cloud and the love you feel for your little one cannot be expressed in words. Suddenly the time has come and you are put with both feet on the ground: you have to go back to work. For some it may feel like a storm after sunshine, for others like an late summer day in October. When you go back to work, feeding your baby with your breast milk plan is technically a challenge, but according to Article 4: 8 of the Working Hours Act, your employer must provide the opportunity to do so. This is also referred to as food law (Overheid.nl, 2020). Tip: make use of this and do not feel guilty about the fact that you have been "off" for so long and that you have to pump during working hours.
Your nutritional rights
Female workers who provide breastmilk have the right to breastfeed during the first nine months of the child's life or to go to the little one. Provided that this fits in the time frame of food law (Parents of today, 2020). The Netherlands would not be the Netherlands if we did not have a calculation for it. Expressing or feeding is allowed as often and for as long as you need, with a maximum of a quarter of a working day or shift. You have the right to be paid during that time. So suppose you work eight hours a day, then you have a maximum of two hours to express or breastfeed (Wvo advocaten, 2020).
Good luck for every drop of your breast milk
Before the first day of work, you can prepare yourself to become the pump queen. Practice pumping at home when your breastfeeding game is on top, so your body can get used to the new normal for the coming months. Get your baby used to a bottle as some babies have difficulty switching from breast to bottle. Nobody can blame them, but as a mom you are more free to come and go wherever you want. It can happen that the milk production decreases when you start working again, so just put a supply of breast milk in the freezer so that your little one is not short of anything. Finally, be honest with your colleagues and supervisor about your pumping situation. This allows them to take into account the fact that you are not available for a while and they may be able to arrange a room where you can take a moment for yourself and your breast pump (FNV, z.d.). Nothing is more uncomfortable than expressing at work in an unsuitable space.
Feed room requirements
Okay, your first day of work has arrived. You've got your pumping time, but you have to pump in a first aid booth somewhere in the building. Intention: big 10, but implementation a heavy fail. Nutrition law also includes that your employer must provide a space where you can put the pump to the breast for a while (Overheid.nl, 2020). The Netherlands would not be the Netherlands if there were no food requirements. The room must offer the opportunity to express milk quietly, with a sealable and at a pleasant temperature. A comfortable chair or sofa should also not be missing. Expressing breast milk does not come without hygiene risks, so there must be a refrigerator to keep the expressed milk at the correct temperature. A tap is also not a superfluous luxury to wash your hands and clean the breast pump (FNV, n.d.) (Parents now, 2020). If this is not the case, please notify your employer.
Ciao food law
After the nine months of your little one's life, nutritional rights stop. This does not mean that you should stop breastfeeding or pumping at work, but you will not continue to receive payment. Choose to pump during your break or make good agreements with your employer to start earlier or to continue working a little longer if you have to pump during the working day. Often the milk production decreases after these months and it is possible to reduce the pumping times to once or twice a day.
Make flasks on and negotiable during work
We are now living in 2020 and yet expressing at work is still seen as taboo. The year of a pandemic, 75 years of freedom in the Netherlands, the year in which Donald Trump has been president of America for 4 years, but pumping at work and during working hours is still a challenge. Research by Ouders van Nu shows that the quality of the Dutch breastfeeding rooms scores 6.8 among more than 1,200 women. So make expressing at work a subject for discussion, so that the women in the Netherlands are actually assigned a place to express themselves comfortably and with the correct hygiene rules and to store the expressed milk. We are talking about women who have put new life on the planet and want to offer the best to their little one, that cannot be done in a first aid room somewhere in the building. Make pumps on and negotiable during work to give the 6.8 in the Netherlands a big boost.
Next time you will read more about ...
In the next blog, we'll take you through the different forms of breast pumps. We put the mains-operated and cordless breast pumps side by side to compare them. That way, every new mother can decide for herself which one is right for her.
FNV. (s.d.). Breastfeeding and pumping at work - FNV. Accessed October 11, 2020, from https://www.fnv.nl/werk-inkomen/zwanger-ouderschap/borstvoeding-en-kolven-op-je-werk
Parents Today. (2018, January 16). Research: it's lousy with pumping rooms in the Netherlands. parentsvannu.nl. https://www.oudersvannu.nl/nieuws/kolven-op-de-werkvloer/
Parents Today. (2020, February 25). Pumping at work: these are your rights. parentsvannu.nl. https://www.oudersvannu.nl/baby/voeding/kolven-op-werk/
Overheid.nl. (2020, January 1). Working Hours Act. https://wetten.overheid.nl/BWBR0007671/2020-01-01/#Hoofdstuk4_Paragraaf4.3_Sub-paragraaf_4_Artikel4:8
wvo lawyers. (2020, September 27). The working mother and nutrition law. https://www.wvo-advocaten.nl/de-werkende-moeder-en-het-voedingsrecht/