This is part of our series on new California laws taking effect in 2019.
Two years ago, Sacramento mom Amy Guyer was anxious about returning to work and continuing to feed her baby.
“I had postpartum depression after my son was born, and a lot of that was actually tied the pumping,” she said. “You feel like a dairy cow oftentimes when you’re pumping. It’s very lonesome.”
She said being able to pump in the comfort of her office helped her stick with it for longer. She breastfed for more than eight months.
But many mothers who are still producing breast milk when they return to work sometimes struggle to find safe, clean places to pump on the job. A California law taking effect in January aims to make it easier.
Current state law mandates lactating mothers be given a space other than a toilet stall. But Robbie Gonzalez-Dow with the California Breastfeeding Coalition said some employers were taking that too literally.
“[Employers were] telling women that the option for them to pump, their private space was in the bathroom,” Gonzalez-Dow said. “And they said that was OK, because it’s not a toilet stall, it's a bathroom, so you can pump in there.”
Under the new law, employers must provide a space dedicated explicitly for lactation. In agricultural workplaces, it must be private, shaded and enclosed.
Employers can face a fine for not obeying the new law. Women who feel they are not being accommodated can complain to the Department of Industrial relations.