More than 50 percent of moms return to work within four months of giving birth. While you might be thrilled to have your team member back, the transition can be a bit more complicated for the returning employee. By creating a well thought-out plan for returning moms (and having a few perks that go above and beyond the legal requirements), you can go a long way towards reducing any negative emotions and stress they may be experiencing. Consider the following to help new moms feel the support and confidence they deserve as they make the shift back into the office:
- Provide breaks: Employers must provide breaks for new mothers to pump breastmilk for the first year after a child’s birth. While the law only defines the break time as a “reasonable” amount, 15 to 30 minutes is usually how long it takes to pump, clean up, store the milk and return to work. Breaks are required each time your employee needs to pump, which could be about three times during an eight-hour workday. Make sure your employee knows that she has the right to take breaks to pump whenever it’s needed!
- Provide space: In addition to giving new moms the time to pump, you also need to give them a private, clean space to do it in. The space needs to be separate from a bathroom, but don’t just clean out a storage closet. Instead, try to create a place that’s calming and quiet. Make sure it has an outlet for an automatic pump, a mini refrigerator to store breastmilk and a comfortable place to sit. Having a pleasant place to pump made returning to work a lot easier for Rosesherain Mason, a senior analyst at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “The rooms here are very private and relaxing–they are stocked with things like paper towels for spills and are very clean and comfortable,” she says. “I was actually sad when I didn’t need them anymore. I enjoyed the quiet time at work!”
- Provide resources: New moms may not know what resources are available to them, so do what you can to share relevant information and resources. This may include information on insurance benefits and national policies as well as local support groups. This extra step will let employees know you are aware of and care about their well-being.
- Provide support: With so much more on her plate, a returning new mom is going to have moments where she feels overwhelmed and uncertain. Do what you can to be positive and reassure her that you don’t expect ridiculously long work hours or 24/7 availability. Be flexible and understand that it will take time to return to a normal schedule. “My manager allowed me to conference in during meetings while I was pumping in the mother’s room and my coworkers got me food during the day because they knew my breaks and lunches were spent pumping,” says Janel Williams, a team leader in Automated Group Reporting at Blue Cross. “They also shared kind words when I seemed down or overwhelmed, which was very appreciated.”
By taking these steps, you’ll show your employees that you care about their entire family’s health and well-being.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like to read up on:
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Recognizes 63 Hospitals Statewide for Delivering High-Quality, Affordable Maternity Care
- Giving Pregnant Women Reasons to Smile, Plus Tips for Taking Care of Baby’s Teeth
- Spa-Inspired Birth Center Renovations Planned at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in GR
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