Breastfeeding Stories

The Good…

I work for a publishing company where they not only allowed me to breastfeed at work but bring my daughter in every day. We would arrive at work at 8 am where she would get a feed and then go to sleep until 11.30 when I fed her again, then dad would collect her. I expressed milk in the afternoon then arrived home for her evening feed. My boss was very generous in his support during this time and I am ever so grateful for that.
Karin – emailed stories

A grandfather of eight, the manager, had no problems with [me] breastfeeding at work, commenting ‘expressing in the locker room was not on’.
Inspector Shortland, Counties Manakau Police– Employment Today August 2007

I negotiated a gradual return to work and my baby daughter came with me for 8 hours per week for 3months. I had key ‘offices’ where I could go and feed her. When she stopped coming to work I expressed and had a fridge available for storage of breastmilk. I was given a lot of support by my manager. Because of the support (of a family friendly manager) in the early days, I breastfed my daughter exclusively to 6 months and continued to breastfeed till she was 2½ years.
Sally – WHA survey

HR were nothing short of extraordinary. I asked for a space (broom closet would do) and was given a spacious, dedicated room with electronic swipe card for privacy, complete with a new couch, fridge and even a tape deck to relax by!. Even more than all this, I appreciated their attitude that it was a perfectly normal thing to do.
Lisa – WHA survey

Michelle took paid parental leave and returned to work when her son was 11 months old. She expressed for one month and during that time used an empty office, retained her full pay and didn’t have to make up the time after work. She started back at 70% fulltime with flexibility around starting time. The organisation also gave Michelle an ex-gratia lump sum of six weeks salary on return to work. She was further supported by her husband who shared daycare pick-ups to enable their son to continue to be breastfed.
Employment Today August 2007

I’m employed part-time as a hairdresser and am able to continue nursing my daughter fulltime. I have a set schedule at work around her feedings. When I’m at work she has stored expressed breastmilk for one feed then I return home to feed her for the next feed. If I’m at work for more than 3 hours, my employer will mark my book out for 30 minutes and I go into a private room and pump. I can store my milk in the freezer at work until I leave. They are very understanding and have supported me as a working mother.

Hollie – WHA survey

I returned to work when my son was three months old and he was fully breastfed for many months. There was a pleasant office designated where I could express milk in private. Expressing milk in that environment was quite relaxing and meant I was productive at work. I worked for a great organisation that supported me throughout my pregnancy, maternity leave and transition back to work. My son is now approaching his 15th birthday and I am still happily ensconced as a working parent.

Susan – WHA survey

I expressed milk sometimes up to three times a day at work for three months. My male manager was more than happy for me to use his office. I believe that I wouldn’t have lasted that long without the support of my employer.

Shirley – WHA survey

I am currently breastfeeding my 6 month old exclusively while working full time in a high profile corporate company. Lucky for me that I have a company that not only lets me express, but have set up a ‘time-out’ room for me to do it comfortably.
Maria – WHA survey

When I returned to work I went back part-time and was given a private space to express and had a very supportive employer.
Sonia – Survey P&C Show 2009

A team was set up to find out why so many women were leaving the police service and found that setting up spaces to breastfeed, being flexible with hours and just being 100% supportive had ensured women were being attracted back.
Detective Johnson, Dominion Post 20 Aug 2008. Re Wellington Police District breastfeeding friendly stations

The Bad…

When I returned to work my baby was 3 months old and I asked my boss if there were any problems with expressing at work and he said that was fine. I started using the boardroom but it didn’t have a lock on the door so I was always nervous that someone would walk in and the milk wouldn’t flow. I also had comments that other staff wanted to use the room to watch TV and eat their lunch. So I’m now sitting on the toilet seat lid with my electric pump. Then walking from my desk to the toilets with my rustling plastic bag with all my pumps and bottles and walking past 10 offices and everyone looks up and knows where I’m going! My baby’s still happy she is receiving my milk and I’ll try and keep up with her demand.
Natalie – WHA survey

I had to express in the toilets as there was no other suitable place. Every break I would rush upstairs to the loos to express and if I could manage have something to eat at the same time. I tried using a little room off the boss’s office but got walked in on and a second time turfed out. I felt like no one really cared.
Van – WHA survey

I am a stay at home mum because my employer couldn’t cope with pregnant women. I dread to think what they would have thought of a lactating one.
Julie – WHA survey

Had to express in the toilets! Employer wasn’t at all supportive and they pressured me to increase my hours.

Beccy – Survey P&C Show 2009

I expressed at work but I had to find the space and time myself. Wasn’t given any help.

Markie – Survey P&C Show 2009

Vanessa went back to work 2 days a week when her baby was 6 months old. She was breastfeeding which meant expressing milk at work. The experience turned out to be a nightmare. She couldn’t find anywhere to go so she spent every break she had in the toilets, expressing milk. “I just dreaded it in the end. I was sitting between the toilet and a hand basin expressing milk and eating my lunch. It was awful.” A nurse at a private hospital, most of her bosses were women who were sympathetic but didn’t offer any solutions.
Work-Life Balance Newsletter Mar 2004 Dept of Labour

I expressed as well as went to feed her in my breaks. My employer was very rigid about the breaks and I could only feed during my set breaks not at any other time even though my baby was in a child care centre in the same building as where I worked.
Gabrielle – Survey P&C Show 2009

WHA Survey: survey conducted by Women’s Health Action Trust 2007 requesting women write in with their experiences of breastfeeding at work
Survey P&C Show: Survey conducted by Women’s Health Action Trust at the Parent and Child Show Auckland 2009