Giving nursing moms a break at work

New legislation in Colorado would provide space and time for nursing or pumping.

Published February 17, 2006 9:32PM (EST)

Some nursing moms pump breast milk at work, right in their cubicles. But the search for a private place to pump on the job can all too often lead to the bathroom stall.

So we're heartened to hear about a bill in Colorado that would give lactating mothers and their babies a break -- literally. The measure, which has passed the state House and is now under consideration in the state Senate, would call for two breaks for moms to either breast-feed or pump milk, in addition to their regular lunch break. It also requires businesses to set aside a private location for breast-feeding moms, according to the Daily Sentinel. Bathroom stalls would not qualify as lactation rooms. State Sen. Deanna Hanna, D-Lakewood, who spearheaded the bill, said that she doesn't want to burden Colorado employers, but that businesses should accommodate breast-feeding mothers as they have done with smokers.

Many states already have similar laws, including Minnesota, Tennessee, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island, Texas and Washington, according to Laws like these are a start, but much depends on the individual woman's negotiation with her supervisor and company. After all, how many workplaces do we know where everyone eats lunch at their desk, even though they're required by law to have a mandatory lunch break?

We'd love to know how these nursing-in-the-workplace measures are actually playing out on the ground. Broadsheet readers, weigh in! Are businesses adequately accommodating nursing moms on the job?

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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