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Mother Denied Right to Breastfeed Newborn by Employer

Mother Denied Right to Breastfeed Newborn by Employer

Angela Ames, a loss mitigation specialist for Nationwide Advantage Mortgage, returned to work a month after the birth of her second child, expecting to be able to use the company’s lactation room. She was greeted with paperwork, which the staff nurse informed her needed to be filed and processed before she could access a lactation room. This would take three days and even then, a room might not be available.

Mother’s Need Not Apply

Ames went to her supervisor where she learned that in addition to the lactation issue, she had just two weeks to catch up on her backlog of work, or she would start receiving write-ups. The supervisor also stressed the need for Ames to begin working overtime immediately, which she agreed to do.

Rock and a Hard Place for Working Mothers

But back at her desk, as milk leaked from her breasts, Ames recalled how she’d had to put her older son on formula because he hadn’t gained enough weight from breastfeeding. Her newborn, born five weeks early after a difficult pregnancy, needed the advantage of being breastfeed. His welfare and the company’s needs weren’t compatible. 

What does a mother do when her baby’s best interests and her job conflict?

Ames resigned that afternoon.

Civil Rights Issue

The story doesn’t end here. Ames decided to file a civil right’s complaint against her employer. The complaint comes at the end of the line for a mother whose pregnancy was treated as an inconvenience, one that bordered on willful misconduct in her employer’s eyes.

The state of Iowa has no legislation guaranteeing lactating women access to a safe, clean environment that is not a restroom. The Legislature took up a bill aimed at providing the women of Iowa this right last spring, but it died in committee.

Company Policies

Nationwide does have a policy providing lactation rooms for their nursing employees, and a spokesperson at the national headquarters was unaware of the three day waiting period rule that Ames was told of.

Ames’ supervisors called her back from maternity leave early, telling her that her short-term disability would expire before the return date they’d agreed on before the birth of her son. They told her they would only hold her job for a week past the July 12th date on which they expected her return.

Mothering While Employed

None of this would come as a surprise to the hundreds of thousands of working mothers in the United States. Pregnancy is treated as an illness. Mothers are forced to use sick leave or take disability in order to give birth and take the minimum six week recuperation time off afterward. Despite a patchwork of lactation laws, finding a place to pump breast milk at work remains problematic for many. And most Americans still largely view breastfeeding a baby, or toddler, outside of one’s home, with disgust.

A Family Struggles

Ames and her family are now struggling financially as her husband, an electrician, has been laid off for some time. But faced with a no-win scenario, Ames felt she had little choice but to quit her job.

Her complaint is still under investigation.

Your Thoughts

What do you think? How are mothers treated in your workplace and how do you feel about it? Tell us your story.

 

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photo credit: Mother and Baby by Sylvar

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221 comments

+ add your own
1:22PM PST on Dec 21, 2010

Its ok to see half naked sexy women advertising anything from bottled water,to designer perfumes,or have tampon adverts on tv,or better still "no odour pany liners for the menopausable ladys who sometimes "leak"a few drops of urine before they can make it to the bathroom . . . . what is so terrible about a mother breast feeding her child?? Modern society MAKES ME SICK!!!!

10:31AM PDT on Nov 4, 2010

"Am I missing something? Couldn't she just go into the ladies room?"

Would you eat on the toilet with people urinating and crapping around you?

7:42AM PDT on Oct 15, 2010

For all you men -- Think would you want to drink anything that was in the bathroom air! This is a child with NO immune system. A clean place to pump is very little to ask.

9:12PM PDT on Oct 11, 2010

Families have children. We just need a little accomodation in the workplace. Isn't Nationwide Advantage Mortgage ashamed to be in this story?

2:10AM PDT on Oct 11, 2010

Isn't this a no-brainer? Look people, NONE of us would be here without our mothers. Get the rooms available, pump it, no more excuses.

8:21PM PDT on Oct 8, 2010

Jennifer H. ~ Having less people on Earth is supposed to be a bad thing? Yes accidents do happen but having sex without using a form of birth control is not an accident and in a lot of cases where the pregnancy is said to be an accident the woman did not used birth control or/and did not asked the man to wear a condom and that is not an accident so in thoses cases the only victims are the children. I make exceptions for the people who had the money and then something happened while the woman was pregnant or when the kid was born like one of the parents losing her/his job, in thoses cases I do not blame the parents but that is not the problem of society or a company or a boss or their family or friends, it is the problem of the parents and nobody else should pay or bend backwards for you just because you have a problem or several problems!

6:34PM PDT on Oct 8, 2010

Boobies are viewed as sex object in this society. This is the root of the "discust"pertaining to breastfeeding. Breasts are for feeding young by design. It is not the fault of the mother or the father that she had to go back to work so soon. this is our society. It is designed to break the bond between mother and child so as to make th echild a better fit in the machine of society. FYI...it only happens here.

7:40AM PDT on Oct 8, 2010

I hope that this woman gets extra breaks to be able to pump her milk, as well as all of the rest of the new mommies who are doing the right thing for their children. I know what it is like to be a new mother who has pumped in the car. She can keep the storage bags and pumped milk in a cooler in her car with ice and they will last until she gets home, a medela hand pump can be stored there without going bad, and you can get a few tupperware's filled with wash water and rinse water to break it down, for future pumpings. As long as you get most of it out, you won't dry up. I used to drive home on my lunch break to feed my daughter, and it was very painful when they filled up. It was mostly sad for her, though, because we were apart, and she didn't want the bottle. Within the Delarosan materials, there are some bottles and items that I have designed to make this easier for someone else to feed the baby. My bottle's are truly the most like Mom's. I don't understand why society is not modeled around the children. I don't understand why evryone doesn't care more, especially when many of us had it so rough in the 1980's, we should make sure that our children get a better life than we did, and we should all work together to make this possible.

7:34AM PDT on Oct 8, 2010

All women who have small children are supposed to be on the Delarosan programs and should not have to work. We must also think of the rights of the infant, who has been denied what is wanted by God for her by some idiot who feel that he needs the control of this woman's situation. If there are mother's who have infants working in your building, you should install a small freezer for them to hold the bagged milk, where they are labeled and absolutely sanitary, so that the mom's have no worry about wasting their milk while working. Each employer needs to find out how to gather their funds for the delarosan programs on their behalf, and through the materials, prepare them to heal their lives and bodies from the strenuous birthing process and parenting, not to mention what they may have gone through within their lives that needs to also be fixed. They must immediately be given a previously Tm'd new vehicle and what is necessary to give their new baby the best they can give them in life. This is Delarosan True Law, and there is no need to vote for anything else, God's way is perfect~ I am righteous through Him. Through the materials, I am more than willing to assist these people, especially the glorious birthing parents of the world. If we all work together, it is possible for the arms of Jesus to reach out and surround the entire world with love.

2:42PM PDT on Oct 7, 2010

Am I missing something? Couldn't she just go into the ladies room?

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