Many breast-feeding moms find pumping milk at work to be a hassle. But teachers can face special challenges because of inflexible schedules and crowded school buildings. Federal law requires employers to provide hourly workers with time and space to pump breast milk on the job, but salaried workers — including teachers — are exempt. Some states have passed laws to extend protections to all women, or, in some cases, to women who are public employees.
Sarah Anzelmo-Steele worked for the Virginia Education Association when her first child was born. It was an office job, and she had the flexibility and the space to pump when she needed to. By the time she was pregnant with her second child, she was teaching in a middle school. Nervous about how she would pump at school, she testified before state lawmakers in favor of a bill that would require schools to provide nursing teachers with a nonbathroom space and reasonable breaks.