How to create a landscape for working parents that's more family friendly.
Going back to work after parental leave isn't an easy feat. It may be difficult to find the time to pump, and so continuing to breastfeed can become challenging. Not only is childcare expensive, it can be difficult to find a facility with hours that suit your work schedule. With little support, many parents end up getting stuck in stressful situations on the daily, which can even lead to postpartum depression. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Some jobs make this transition easier than others, and with some forethought and strategy, workplaces can retain talented employees, even after the birth of a child.
Before going back to work, it's important to educate yourself and assemble resources that you may have to give you all the support you need for success in both your professional life and your mom life. To help you with this task, we’ve gathered a list of services with the returning to work mama in mind.
Here are 5 services that family-oriented businesses offer to parents who are coming to work after having a baby.
1. Milk Shipping Services. For many moms, work comes with a lot of travels, and being away from baby for an extended period of time can be stressful, especially if you're worried about keeping up your milk supply and pumping without wasting any milk -- your milk is liquid gold, after all. Milk Stork is a genius solution for working moms who are traveling and breastfeeding. With their services, employers can pay to ship a mother’s milk back home to her baby while mom is away for business.
2. Flexibility. Working parents can probably all agree that flexibility is a welcome bonus if it’s available. After all, kids of all ages come with a lot of unpredictabilities: pediatrician visits during the day, sick days from school, and school or sport events you’d rather not miss. A lot of times, the workplace is structured in a way that's "one size fits all." But what works for one person doesn't always work for another. So companies like Werk train firms' HR departments on how to implement and maintain flexibility at the office.
3. Lactation Programs and Pumping Rooms. For breastfeeding moms, the return to work can be very daunting. Finding the time to pump, keeping your supply up, and meeting your baby’s feeding needs are all stressful enough. Having a comfortable, clean, and private area to pump at work can really make a huge difference for lactating mothers. Companies that offer appropriate pumping time and a designated pumping area, like Google and Facebook, end up setting the foundation that lactating mothers need to be the best employee and mothers they aspire to be. Some businesses are even equipped with all the pumping necessities, including hospital-grade pumps!
4. Onsite Childcare. How amazing would it be to have your child nearby, but totally cared for while you’re at work? Companies like Patagonia have always acknowledged the benefit of having children close by while their parents are at work. Having lunch with your child during the workday is a huge bonus.
5. Paid Parental Leave. Only 12 percent of companies offer their employees paid parental leave. For employers who are able to offer paid parental leave for both parents as bonding time, the pay off can be huge with greater employee engagement and satisfaction. It can also result in lower rates of postpartum depression for women who have access to 12 weeks or more of paid parental leave.
Jennifer Mayer supports parents through pregnancy, birth, new parenthood and the transition back to work. She’s the founder of Baby Caravan, a birth & postpartum doula agency and Baby Caravan at Work, a corporate consulting practice based in New York City. Jennifer lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.
Photo from Patagonia.