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Breastfeeding app Pumpspotting hopes to offer support for mothers in the workplace

Posted at 9:35 PM, Oct 06, 2022

You'll find French and Spanish-influenced cuisine at Chavalin Portland, Maine, and hardworking mother, Ilma Lopez.

"Being a mom is hard, period," Lopez said. "It's super rewarding, but it's really hard."

As a chef and restaurant owner, Lopez said breastfeeding her baby has been both a blessing and a challenge.

"You're so stressed out that you want to make sure you produce enough milk that you're eating correctly, that you pump at the right time," Lopez said.

She's thankful she's getting help through a support app called Pumpspotting. Amy VanHaren started the company seven years ago.

"For parents, what we offer through Pumpspotting is access to our mobile app that helps them navigate the day-to-day of nursing, pumping, and feeding," VanHaren said. "And for companies with our workplace lactation programs, we're helping them to create breastfeeding compliant and baby feeding friendly cultures so that they can attract and retain and delight working parents."

Pumpspotting recently launched Pumpspotting for Business with Kalamata's Kitchen, Resy, and the LEE Initiative. It's a guide for businesses all over the country to create a supportive work culture for mothers.

"Helps you create policy, think about your spaces, how do you work with your team and timing in terms of pump breaks?" VanHaren said. "So essentially, we give you all the tools you need."

VanHaren says there's been a particular focus on restaurants since she's noticed many have struggled to retain employees post-pandemic. However, the ultimate goal is to help all industries.

Liz Morris with the research organization Center for Worklife Law said options exist for providing break time anywhere.

"For example, in agriculture, farm workers have used pop-up tents so that they can express breast milk in the fields," Morris said. "Retail workers can use extension cords and a changing room. Fast food workers can use the manager's office to express breast milk."

Morris said she wants working mothers to know they have rights.

Title Seven of the Civil Rights Act prohibits sex and pregnancy discrimination in employment. The Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law requires most employers to give employees a private space and reasonable break time to pump breast milk during the work day.

"Unfortunately, nine million women of childbearing age are left out of that law's protections due to an unintentional drafting error when the law was initially written," Morris said.

She said bipartisan legislation is at play in D.C., called the Pump for Nursing Mothers Act. It would ensure that all workers have the right to pump and feed. Lopez says she's learned that business owners and managers need to be flexible.

"You can't just put a time on pumping," Lopez said. "I think that's a misconception that we all have. Like, 'Yeah, go on, pump for 10 minutes.' That's just not fair and not right."

Very passionate about her restaurant and her kids, Lopez said it's possible to find a balance between motherhood and professional aspirations.

"I hope people don't have to make this sacrifice or the decision of not having kids because of their career," Lopez said.