I may have imagined, when I graduated from college 10 years ago, that I would eventually have an opportunity to present to C-suite executives. But I definitely would not have imagined the presentation would be about a breastfeeding program.
Well, a lot changes in ten years and on Tuesday, July 10, 2018, that is exactly what I was doing!
Over the past ten years, I’ve given many presentations at work. Several of them have been to executives in a boardroom. But this was the first time I remember being so nervous. This presentation was personal.
My mind raced as I walked up the three flights of stairs to the executive boardroom. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, I thought. If they approved even a small part of this program, it would be great.
All I had to do was show them the research. Focus. Don’t talk too fast. Keep it concise.
I glanced down at my hands, clenching a folder packed with research I’d done since returning to work in March from maternity leave. Page after page of studies showing the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and infants, and for the companies that support their working, nursing mothers.
As I waited outside the boardroom for my turn to speak, I reflected on how all of this started – the very personal side of my presentation.
My husband and I welcomed our first child into the world on Dec. 20, 2017. In the early days at home with Eloise, I discovered how complex the natural act of breastfeeding could be. Even though I’d taken a breastfeeding class through the hospital and received a post-delivery visit from the hospital’s lactation consultant, I quickly realized I had a lot of questions and uncertainties.
At a friend’s recommendation, I made an appointment at MilkWorks in Omaha. The initial consultation with the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant was so helpful. I walked away with more confidence, but I knew there was much more to learn.
I began attending the weekly mom’s group. I had a follow-up consultation with an IBCLC and participated in the Return to Work class. The resources, support and classes at MilkWorks gave me new confidence and I became comfortable with the new normal at home.
Before I knew it, my 12 weeks of maternity leave ended. It was time to go back to work. I felt a new stress, struggling to balance the expectations of a working professional with the care I wanted to continue providing for my daughter.
My employer was very supportive. They already had a dedicated Mother’s Room, complete with a refrigerator, sink and lockers for each nursing mom to store her pump. This dedicated space did help me feel more comfortable pumping at work. But I still felt a little lost as I learned to juggle all of my responsibilities.
I reached out to MilkWorks, grateful for the connections I had made with the IBCLC and breastfeeding educators. They answered my questions, listened to my concerns and reassured me about pumping while working fulltime. I couldn’t imagine, as a nursing mother, making the transition back to work without their support.
That made me think of other nursing mothers making their way back to work. I was concerned that they’d struggle just as much, perhaps even more, than I had. I knew they’d benefit from the wonderful resources at MilkWorks and I wanted them to have the same reassuring support.
After months of research I developed a proposal for a more comprehensive company breastfeeding policy and support program, and found myself on July’s executive meeting agenda.
When the door to the boardroom opened, I took my seat at the table and presented an overview of the program. I provided details and explained the benefits of offering a program that supported nursing mothers.
I illustrated the difficulties facing these women by sharing my own struggles in returning to work, navigating my new role as a breastfeeding mother and full-time working professional.
When I finished the presentation, the CEO and executive vice president thanked me for the information. And, to my surprise, said they supported the entire program – as proposed. Not just a piece of it. The whole thing, no changes or edits! They acknowledged the dedication it takes for women to return to work and continue breastfeeding. They also said they certainly wanted to make sure the company fully supported its working mothers.
As I walked back down the three flights of stairs, I couldn’t stop my tears. I felt grateful for their support and proud of the part I played in supporting all current and future breastfeeding mothers.
If you’re wondering what the new program includes, here are some highlights:
- The program is available for female employees and spouses of employees.
- Securities America pays for program participants to attend MilkWorks classes.
- New mothers can earn up to $150 in MilkWorks gift certificates for participating in classes and consultations with MilkWorks IBCLCs, utilizing the Baby Weigh Stations or taking part in Mom Talk groups.
- An incentive to earn $125 credit to use toward Sarah Wells pump bags and products for attending the Return to Work class.
- Incentives for nursing mothers who reach the 6-month and 12-month breastfeeding milestones (including spa gift cards and credit towards mothers’ jewelry).
- In addition, Securities America updated the existing lactation policy to provide three (3) 30-minute paid breaks to express milk.
My hope is that all new moms, especially those who continue to breastfeed and return to work, feel confident, empowered and supported. I’m proud to work for a company dedicated to make that a reality.
Thank you, Securities America, for being a great place to work!