Author: Fatima Iniestra

This March, Women’s Month, I want to take the opportunity to talk about raising awareness on topics that are important to us women, that are not generally paid attention to, and place us all in a situation of labor vulnerability. Today I write about a topic that is finally being reformed for the better: lactation.

In general terms, if we refer to an utopia in the workplace, we will talk about employment protection and non-discrimination in the exercise of maternity. It is sad to say that one of the fears that arise when you are about to become a mother is in regard to the safety and stability guaranteed by your work center. Unfortunately, this fear extends to the lactation period. Very few companies and establishments offer you spaces for lactation and not many of them respect the schedules established in the Federal Labor Law (even though their Internal Regulations or their Contracts may say otherwise). Many of us have questioned ourselves about having children because finding a balance between professional and family life can be so difficult, this becomes even more complicated when the company doesn’t cooperate the way it (mandatorily) should.

Lactation is such a taboo topic that there are people who not only don’t mention it, but don’t even know about it. The other day I was involved in a conversation to understand the topic more objectively, and I was surprised to find that there are people that are against the Law protecting women during the lactation period, as they do not consider this to be something “as important or as serious” as the gestation period. “It isn’t as if they’re not all right, it is not like they’re suffering, I don’t understand. Besides, the law gives them plenty of time. It is even unfair”, says a male colleague. I want to clarify that it is not the intention of this article to generate a gender fight, but a fight for equality and the support of motherhood.

In regard to international lactation regulations, ILO Convention number 83 establishes the provisions for the lactation period and the interruptions for it, and Recommendation number 191 is the one that establishes the possibility of having facilities for lactation at the workplace. On the other hand, in our legislation, Title Five of the Federal Labor Law is where the guidelines for maternity in employment are established; Specifically, its Article 170 Section IV establishes that, in the case of lactation, for a maximum period of up to six months, two extraordinary periods of half an hour each, for feeding their children must be mandatory during the workday. The Federal Labor Law states that the place in which women exercise their right to lactation within the work center must be decent, “appropriate and hygienic” it mentions. Think about your particular profession: What company or establishment has a place that is especially designed for a woman to be able to go to feed her children during her workday?

On February 9, 2023, the Senate approved a reform to the Federal Labor Law to ensure the right to lactation by mothers, extending the period from six months to two years. Giving the opportunity to women during the lactation period to request flexibility in their working hours as well as, in certain cases, to bring their children in. This reform bill seeks to avoid termination during the lactation period, make progress in favor of women’s rights and eliminate a certain percentage of discrimination against working women.

Lactation is almost never taken into consideration in the labor panorama. Decent, appropriate, accessible, hygienic conditions are rarely found within a work center.

Do you, as a woman, feel comfortable in your workplace during the lactation period?