A new interview in the Mommin' It Business Series is here and we're talking about pumping breastmilk at work!
Today I’m speaking with Abbey Donnell, founder of Work & Mother. Work & Mother provides a network of fully equipped lactation facilities that not only supports working mothers that want to do breast pumping at work, but makes it easy for employers to be in compliance with FLSA regulations.
I first met Abbey through a community that we are both involved in and we connected immediately! We both work in the postpartum space and shortly after I met her she gave birth to her son.
I love what Work & Mother is doing to provide fully equipped pumping facilities for new moms who want to do breast pumping at work. It’s challenging to go back to work after having a baby and employee retention is a big concern for companies. According to Work and Mother, “even though 75% of women plan to return to work after becoming mothers, 43% of new mothers end up leaving their jobs. Work & Mother helps prevent workplace attrition associated with childbirth, while also helping mothers reach their breastfeeding goals and keep their children happy and healthy”.
Let’s face it - going back to work after having a baby is hard. Breastfeeding and pumping are also hard. Put them together and you have a lot more things to think about such as how often to pump, where to pump, where to store the breastmilk, etc. It can be overwhelming! Side note - I felt so passionately about pumping while working that I wrote a post about my top tips for breast pumping at work when going back to work a while back.
I’m so happy that Abbey is part of the movement to support working moms in such an incredible way. And now, onto the interview with Abbey!
What does your business do? How do you help expecting or new moms?
Work & Mother is a network of fully equipped pumping facilities for working moms. We have everything (privacy, equipment, cleaning, refrigeration, support, etc.) a woman needs to pump during the workday so that she is freed up to concentrate on her career when she's at work and her baby when she's at home. No more fretting over pumping logistics or carrying heavy pump bags every day! It operates much like a building gym--but instead of treadmills we have hospital-grade breast pumps! In addition to the facilities, we help moms through the 4th and 5th trimesters through our support network, programming, and healthcare professionals.
Why did you start your business?
When I was in business school, all of my closest friends began having babies. We’d get together and it seemed like the conversation constantly revolved around the difficulties of breastfeeding and going back to work. I heard countless horror stories of people having to pump in closets or bathroom stalls. Getting walked-in on or harassed by coworkers. And these things were happening at big, prominent firms--the type that should have had the space and resources to provide better solutions.
I didn’t have kids at the time. But I knew I wanted to have them soon and that breastfeeding was an important part of the equation. I just thought to myself, there’s no way I am going to pump in that kind of environment. So, I decided to create the space and supportive community that I wished had been around for my friends and that I wanted for myself. I now have a 5 month old little boy and I feel so lucky to be surrounded by all these awesome, hard working moms!
What advice would you give to expecting or new moms?
Don't hesitate to ask questions of other moms, we love sharing. And when it comes to breastfeeding, relax. Seriously! Stress inhibits the oxytocin reflex (the "letdown reflex"), which can affect supply. So many of us are so frantically worried and anxious about milk production/transfer, latch, etc. that we actually get in our own way. So, stop watching the clock and the drops and instead, light a candle, play calming music, breathe, have some skin-to-skin time with your baby, and relax. And if you're ever having trouble, get help. Even professional lactation consultants call other consultants for help - yours truly included ;) You've got this!
How has motherhood changed you (if at all)?
It's taught me patience and love beyond what I could've ever imagined. It also helped me re-prioritize my time. I used to say yes to everything, now I'm much more selective and efficient with the things I commit time to. Oh, and I continue to surprise myself with how much I can accomplish on so little sleep! haha
About Abbey Donnell
Abbey Donnell is the Founder and CEO of Work & Mother. Before devoting her work full time to Work & Mother, Abbey served as Creative Director for a marketing firm. Abbey completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has an MBA from Rice University, and is a Certified Lactation Counselor.
Find Work & Mother here:
Check out this blog post about five top tips for pumping breastmilk at work