Traveling for work when you have a baby at home is no easy task, but for breastfeeding moms, the time away can be especially tough. If you're not pumping furiously beforehand to build up your stockpile, you're doing it on the road, because it's not like your supply suddenly stops. And then the question becomes what to do with your stash: Freshly expressed milk can sit in a hotel mini fridge for a few days, but what happens if your trip runs longer than that? And how will you get it all through airport security?
Well, if you're an employee of IBM, you no longer have to fret about that. Starting in September, the tech giant will pay for breastfeeding moms to ship their expressed milk home to baby and help them coordinate the mailing via a special app.
The process sounds pretty simple: Start by plugging some basic info into the app, like the name of your hotel and how many storage containers you plan on using. Those temperature-controlled containers will be waiting for you at your destination, all labeled and ready to go. Then, fill them up with milk, and they'll be picked up and overnighted to your baby—at no expense to you. "We do all the work so the mother doesn't have to think about any of the details," Barbara Brickmeier, vice president of benefits at IBM, told the Washington Post.
While IBM isn't the first company to help nursing women who travel for work, it's the only one that's footing the bill upfront. (In most cases, moms are reimbursed for expenses.) This latest initiative is part of the company's long-standing suite of family-friendly benefits: Employees there also get six weeks paternity leave and 14 weeks of paid maternity leave.
Of course, IBM isn't the only employer who's taking steps to make the transition back to work a little easier for working parents. Corporations like Nestle, Vodafone, Virgin Management and Johnson & Johnson are among the leaders giving moms and dads more paid time off to be with baby or greater flexibility with their work schedules. It's time for even more companies—and, frankly, our government—to follow suit.
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Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.
Storing Breast Milk
Image of breast pump and milk courtesy of Shutterstock