The health care legislation enacted by Congress provides a number of new guarantees and safeguards for women who elect to breastfeed at work. And Corporate Voices for Working Families has available a Workplace Lactation Toolkit with instructions, tips and template materials (in English and Spanish). The Toolkit includes recommendations for employers on how to support employees with breastfed babies, guidance for working mothers who breastfeed, and other resources.

Lisa Belkin on her New York Times Motherlode blog has an informative post — “New Rules About Breast Pumps at Work” — that provides considerable context and perspective and highlights the difficulty that many hourly workers have with breastfeeding at work. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Writing about the difficulty that hourly workers have finding the time and space to pump breast milk while at work, my colleague Jodi Kantor noted several years ago that while it was admirable that a former Massachusetts governor, Jane Swift, had breast-fed after returning to work, doing so was more complicated for women lower on the ladder — those who work behind fast-food counters, in catalog call centers, on factory floors or as waitresses and soldiers.

“That’s a great thing to do, but she had her own office and could set her own schedule,” one doctor is quoted as saying of Swift. “The one I want to know about is the lady cleaning her office.”

Well, that lady is now guaranteed the right to use a breast pump at work, the result of the health care bill passed by Congress last month. Section 4207 of the bill amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to include the guarantee of “a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk,” for nonexempt hourly workers, and also the stipulation that this be done in “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public.”

And for more perspective on this subject and on the work and involvement of Corporate Voices, here’s our recent blog post: “Breastfeeding in the Workplace–Saving Lives, Improving Business.”