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For 49% of expectant women, it can feel like a choice between breastfeeding or job growth, says new survey

We still have more work to do to make workplaces pumping-friendly.

For 49% of expectant women, it can feel like a choice between breastfeeding or job growth, says new survey

For working women expecting a baby, there are plenty of logistical matters to sort through before baby's arrival: What projects do I need to wrap up? Who will cover for me during leave? How will I transition back into work?

Unfortunately, for many expectant mothers, questions about how co-workers or employers will react to their (lawful) requests for pumping space and time can feel like the most complicated of all: According to a new survey from Aeroflow Healthcare, 49% of expectant mothers worried their desire to breastfeed would negatively affect their job opportunities.

Even though employers are legally required to give mothers time and non-bathroom space to pump during the workday, many work environments still fall short—sometimes because of negative attitudes expressed by others in the office and sometimes because the designated pumping space isn't up to par.

Among the 774 expectant mothers in the United States who responded to Aeroflow's survey through a third-party administrator, 47% of the women perceived pumping accommodations in their workplace to be so bad they had considered seeking a new job.

"While we have made great strides in supporting breastfeeding moms, this survey clearly shows we have much more work to do," says Jennifer Jordan, Director of Mom and Baby at Aeroflow Healthcare, in a press release. "It is concerning that negative connotations around breastfeeding and pumping in the workplace still exist. Simply put, this is unacceptable and we must do better."

Not only did 63% say they believe there is a stigma attached to breastfeeding mothers in the workplace, but 30% said they were actively worried about their ability to continue breastfeeding with their current employment.

Beyond the opinions of others, many of the expectant mothers said their workplaces simply did not accommodate pumping, despite the laws in place: Nearly 30% said there was no designated lactation area in their office. Another 13% said there technically was a designated space, but it really wasn't designed for pumping. And 11% of moms weren't sure what to expect.

According to a May report from UNICEF, breastfeeding rates in the United States basically decline in parallel with a woman's income: high-income women are the most likely to breastfeed, while low-income women in the United States are the least likely.

This survey provides a big clue as to why that link exists: If mothers feel they don't have any choice but to stay in a job that isn't conducive to breastfeeding or if they feel breastfeeding will restrict their potential for a raise, it can put many in the difficult position to stop breastfeeding before their goal.

"We hope this study creates a groundswell of awareness and appreciation for the mothers so devoted to both their children and their careers, often at the expense of the latter," says Jordan.

For expectant mothers with concerns about breastfeeding when they return to work, the best thing is simply asking what accommodations will be made, something that only 54% of the surveyed mothers had done. Getting everyone on board with breastfeeding plans can feel like an awkward discussion—but it definitely beats hiding in a broom closet four times a day to pump.

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Products that solve your biggest breastfeeding challenges

Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

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Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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This viral post about the 4th trimester is exactly what new mamas need right now

"We are alone. Together. You are surrounded all the other mothers who are navigating this tender time in isolation. You are held by all of us who have walked the path before you and who know how much you must be hurting. You are wrapped in the warm embrace of mama earth, as she too settles into this time of slowness and healing."

Artist and teacher Catie Atkinson at Spirit y Sol recently shared a beautiful drawing of a new mom crying on a couch—leaking breasts, newborn baby, pile of laundry and what we can only assume is cold coffee, included. Everything about the image is so real and raw to me—from the soft stomach to the nursing bra and the juxtaposition of the happy wallpaper to the palpable vulnerability of the mother—I can almost feel the couch underneath me. I can feel the exhaustion deep in this woman's bones.

My heart feels the ache of loneliness right alongside hers. Because I remember. I remember the confusion and uncertainty and love and messy beauty of the fourth trimester so well. After all, it's etched in our minds and bodies forever.

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