Going back to work as a new mom can be so hard. There are a lot of emotions and changes involved, and for a lot of moms, figuring out how to schedule breast pumping into the workday is another added stress.
Having co-workers who understand that pumping is a necessity, not an option, can help. As Anne Hathaway recently learned, when a workplace (in her case, the Ocean's 8 film set) is filled with fellow working moms, pumping mamas find the support they need.
Hathaway and the rest of the all-female cast of Ocean's 8 (Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna, and Helena Bonham Carter) appeared on the TODAY show recently, and Hathaway described how supported she felt as a pumping mom while filming the movie.
"I remember there was one moment where we were shooting a little long, and I just kind of went, 'Uhhh,' and the girls were like 'What's wrong?' And I said, 'I'm sorry, I should have pumped an hour ago.' And the girls just, like, formed around me, and they were like, 'We need a break. We need a break. Annie needs to go do this.' And it was just, like, I mean, who gets that?"
Indeed, a lot of moms don't. Unfortunately, a lot of working, pumping mamas still have to fight for time to pump, and some employers still don't understand how important it is to have a designated lactation room, instead expecting moms to pump in the bathroom or not at all.
Not having support at work is often cited as one of the reasons why breastfeeding rates aren't as high as the World Health Organization wants them to be. But Hathaway's story proves that one solution is simply for organizations to employ and empower more women.
Hathaway says that her colleagues' instant recognition of the importance of a pump break reduced some of the anxiety she'd had about going back to work on film sets while pumping. "I was so happy because I was breastfeeding and I had that moment where I was like, 'Oh, is this going to be a positive environment to be able to do that in?'"
The answer was clearly yes. With women and fellow working moms (including Mindy Kaling, who definitely knows what it's like to pump as a working mama) Hathaway got that positive environment she needed. She notes that the postpartum support didn't just help her with her pumping, but also as she dealt with post-pregnancy changes to her body.
"I walked on the set, and my weight's a little up, and I'm just aware of it … I'm in my jeans, and I've done my best and I'm gonna love myself no matter what," Hathaway recalled during a recent appearance on Ellen. "And Sandy Bullock just looks up and goes, 'Lookin' good, mama.' That made me feel amazing."
Other stars have noted that having more women on film sets doesn't just make them better for new moms, but for all parents.
Mom of two Mila Kunis recently told Variety that she's found "there's a noticeable difference" on films led by female directors, like that of her upcoming comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me. "No one is yelling at each other... At 7 o'clock, bye, go home. I got to see my kids for dinner. It was lovely."
The experiences of stars like Kunis and Hathaway prove that having more women at work makes work a better place for women, and that female-led projects can not only create a successful work environment, but a financial success as well.
Ocean's 8 features the first all-female cast in the franchise's history, and also had the most successful box office debut of the franchise, doing $41 million in ticket sales its first weekend. So, supporting pumping moms doesn't hurt bottom lines, but can actually benefit them. Hopefully, the kind of support Hathaway found will make its way out of Hollywood and into the rest of the working world.