Join Africa's fastest growing career community!


Your Rights as a Breastfeeding Mum at Work

Learn whether your workplace is compliant with breastfeeding laws and how this can affect you as a nursing mum.

Article Preview Image

Learn whether your workplace is compliant with breastfeeding laws and how this can affect you as a nursing mum.

Photo credit: pch.vector

When one of my colleagues told me that she used to pump her breast milk in the boardroom at her workplace, which was frequently occupied by company staff or visitors, I was taken aback.

Surely in the year of our Lord 2021, every workplace should be able to provide the space and time for lactating employees to breastfeed or pump comfortably and in private. 

New mums already have it hard going back to the office shortly after giving birth, and they shouldn’t have to add breastfeeding challenges at work to their plates. The barriers to pumping or breastfeeding at work can take a physical, emotional, and financial toll on most women. 

If you have spoken to your boss about this, and they tell you they cannot provide the necessary breastfeeding facilities, it can be considered illegal in some countries. Even the simple act of telling someone to cover up when breastfeeding is now seen as unacceptable. 

Laws in countries such as Nigeria and Uganda still do not provide breastfeeding policies for nursing mothers in the workplace, which shows there is a lot of work to be done in these countries. In Kenya, however, the Health Act states that all employers should have lactation stations on the premises regardless of the nature or size of the business. Failure to provide them can lead to a hefty fine of up to KES 1 million. It also specifies that breastfeeding mums should be allowed nursing breaks amounting to one hour within the typical 8-hour workday. 

When we talk about a lactation station, what should it look like? Certainly not just a room with a chair in it. These lactation stations should also be properly equipped with the right facilities to ensure a comfortable and stress-free experience. The minimum standards for workplace lactation stations include the following:


  • They shall be protected from view and interruption from other co-workers

  • They shall be warm, private, quiet, and clean

  • These areas should not be toilets or bathrooms

  • They should have lockable doors

  • They should have a fridge to store expressed milk and a sink

  • They should have provisions for lighting and electric outlets for electric breast pumps

  • They should have a table, a chair, and a clean storage space for breastfeeding equipment

Basically, the above requirements are the least your employer can provide for you, and you shouldn’t settle for less. 

Employers should have adequate breastfeeding facilities for nursing employees to ensure they have a seamless work experience to do their best work. In some cases, employees who refuse to accept substandard workplace lactation conditions may experience breastfeeding discrimination, which comes in many forms, including: 


  • Commenting on one’s breasts

  • Being fired for simply asking

  • Refusal to provide private spaces leaving employees to pump milk while exposed to the public, clients, and co-workers, sometimes in physically unsafe conditions

  • Denying pump breaks to employees who are leaking milk and in pain

Actions like these have forced many breastfeeding employees to resign or even subjected them to termination. Some women also experience severe health consequences such as premature weaning, reduced milk supply, painful infections, and illness from being unable to lactate appropriately at work. 

As you can see, you have everything to gain from learning your rights as a nursing mum in the workplace. 

More countries need to embrace workplace inclusivity for pregnant and nursing women in their laws as a show of support for their experience. Employers must also consider women’s needs in the workplace and do their best to meet them accordingly. 

Written by

Sandra Musonge

Sandra Musonge is a part-time writer at Fuzu with over five years of experience under her belt, helping numerous B2B and B2C clients with their content needs. She writes to inspire and not just to inform. Her educational background in Biochemistry has given her a broad base from which to approach many topics. You can find her enjoying nature or trying out new recipes when she isn't writing.

Give a like!


Sign in to read comments and engage with the Fuzu community.

Login or Create a Free Account