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Episode 25: Breastfeeding & Going Back to Work with Debi Yadegari

, , , August 5, 2020

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Jacqueline Kincer  0:00

I’m super excited to have you on the podcast today, Debbie, because this is a topic we have not talked about at all really on the podcast yet. And I think what you have to share and what your company does is so important. And you’re going to answer a lot of questions for our listeners today. So welcome.


Debi Yadegari  0:08

Thank you so much. I’m excited to be here. And it’s a topic that’s definitely close to my heart. I had my own struggles, starting out with breastfeeding that led to where I am today. And I know that the return to work is one of the hardest parts of breastfeeding. So excited to dive into that.


Jacqueline Kincer  0:21

Yeah, yeah, absolutely me too!


Jacqueline Kincer  0:24

In fact you were starting to kind of share a little bit about that, I’d love to know more about sort of your history in this area with breastfeeding and things and how you got started and a little bit about the mission of your company.


Debi Yadegari  0:55

Yeah, so the mission of my company is that working parents should not have to choose between their personal family goals and professional success.


It takes a village to be a successful parent and to be a successful professional. So that’s what we’re all about. Providing employees with the tools and resources that they need to really be successful in all the places that are most successful, and most important to them.


Home, office in their career. And we’re all about providing that. As to why I got into this. I didn’t have the support that I need. That’s like typically the founder story.


I was working on Wall Street, I was a lawyer and I became pregnant. And working parenthood was like a two-by-four up aside my head.


I had no support from the get-go from the time I announced it was like the pink elephant in the room. And then I went out on leave and I had this beautiful baby. And despite having had so much preparation within the lactation space. I think I read every book out there, I went to every seminar, I was lost, I was three days out, I was in pain. I wasn’t quite sure if my daughter was just sucking at my breast or actually feeding. And I struggled.


And I remember, she was like this tiny little three-day-old baby and I was living in New York City at the time. And she was too small to even go into the stroller. I was such a newbie mom, I didn’t even know that you keep kids in the car seat and then put the car seat on the stroller. So she didn’t fit in the stroller, I put her on my shoulders, pushing the stroller and making my way to the lactation support group.


And there I found a lactation consultant who really turned my life around. And she was able to teach me things that despite all the hours spent reading and attending classes and doing what I could to absorb information. She was the one who really helped me down that path.


And then I quickly learned that it wasn’t just me, I think before you become a mom, you think breastfeeding is going to be easy. I remember my husband making fun of all the preparation that I was doing. And I too was kind of like, well, this is going to be natural, right? It’ll work out. It’s not until after you become a mom, that you know, you talk to people and everybody struggles, only the mom who gives birth and has like five pounds to lose is the mom who successfully breastfeeds out of the gate. Everyone has their struggles.


So I quickly recognize that this was an area that other people were having difficulty with also, and luckily we had each other to rely upon, but then it had came time to go back to work.


And I have five children. They were all breastfed, and my oldest is 15. So she predated the Affordable Care Act, which gave us as working women a right to pump in the office. So I didn’t have the support, the resources that I needed when it came time for me to return to work. So I delayed and delayed and delayed my return. And finally six months after her birth, I just walked away.


And I realized that it was the lack of working parent support. And for me at that time, it really was the lack of an ability to keep up with the breastfeeding relationship that I had struggled so hard to succeed with. That left me what I felt like between a rock and a hard place.


I had developed my career, I was really dedicated to it. But when push comes to shove, you’re gonna choose your baby.


And for me at that time, and still today, I felt that there wasn’t really another option, if I wanted to be able to provide her with the breast milk and continue that relationship, I had to walk away. And that was really, really sad. So what we do is we go into companies, and we make sure that other people don’t have to have that same journey because too many women have.


We know that is one of the top reasons women stop breastfeeding. Way more than a majority of women initiate breastfeeding in the office, but very few of them keep up with the guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and what is it like 25% make it to goal?


And so that provides so much guilt that shouldn’t be there. Because it’s not a personal thing. It’s a societal thing. We don’t set up moms to succeed. And so much of that, especially for the working mom has to do with the return, we need to get employers on board.


So what we do at Village is we go in, and we kind of hit it from lots of different angles. So first off the setup. We make sure that there is a lactation room. And ideally, it has a hospital grade breast pump. Why? Because more milk and less time. Every mom loves that hospital grade breast pump.


And also you don’t have to lug things back and forth. So that’s number one, we make sure that the setup is correct. And then we know that even if the setup is correct, there’s always like this awkwardness talking to your manager about being able to take a break or what have you.


So we go in and we do a lot of leadership training, we talk to managers and leaders about the sensitivities surrounding the breastfeeding employee. And we coach them on what to do to keep up the company line.


So the companies, all companies in all 50 states are required to provide moms with the time to pump and the place to pump. And depending on the state and the city, sometimes those requirements go a lot further.


So companies have to provide this, but sometimes managers are just clueless about what that means or how to go about doing that. So we give them the tools and resources also to be able to facilitate those conversations to talk to their employees about the employees needs, about the schedules that are needed. And we also give them a heads up that like, look, this isn’t gonna take 10 minutes. Especially, now is there’s a return to work amongst COVID, It’s going to be longer cleaning protocols. And it’s going to take a little bit of time. So we set the expectations for the manager, but we also give the manager the information to empower them to support the employee.


We talked to them about retention rates, we know that if an employer provides a properly set up corporate lactation program retention rates are going to go from 59% to 96%, on average.


So the short term sacrifice for providing a little bit of an accommodation, which really shouldn’t even be an accommodation, it should be an absolute must, is going to have long term rewards for the employer. So that’s another thing we do.


And then we ship breast milk for traveling moms. We have the handy dandy boxes that moms can take. No longer do they have to pack gel packs and things of that sort nifty boxes, you push a button, keeps your breast milk cold for over 72 hours for moms that travel.


We have amazing milk fridges that companies can put in offices, these are so cool. It’s like a refrigerator, they open the door and inside there’s cubbies that have locks. So every Mom has her own little lock within the refrigerator, so nobody touches her milk, right? We don’t need any more like jokes about milk, what milk are you going to put in the office coffee.


We basically we touch on everything. And then of course we also have on call lactation consultants who are there for mom.


Of course, most of the problems are kind of smoothed out and ironed out when mom’s still on leave. But actually breastfeeding, feeding your baby from the tap is a lot different than pumping and storing milk and starting to think about your supply and your storage supply, your freezer supply before you get to the office. So we have lactation consultants that are on call so we provide it all when it comes to corporate lactation. So that way moms can meet their personal breastfeeding goals and attain professional success.


Jacqueline Kincer  9:29

Oh! it’s so amazing. I love everything you’re offering and it kind of takes a lot off of my plate because I often have a lot of clients that come to me and they get really nervous about returning to work and I of course help them with a pumping plan and storage plan and all the infection control that needs to be done anything and everything regarding that to make sure they have enough setup and that they’re used to the pump and all of those good things. They know what supplies are needed, but then every situation is different.


So if the mother is a police officer and she’s doing traffic stops or something, then, she needs to pump in her vehicle, she can’t go back to the station every single time she needs to do that. So how do we make that work? And how do we help support her and having that conversation with the employer?


And I will say, I have two different types of clients, the majority fallen to the well I don’t really want to rock the boat, I like my job, I want to keep my job, it’s already been a big deal for me to take maternity leave. Now I’m coming into this environment where, things have changed dramatically for her in terms of her life, in terms of her sleep, in terms of so much. And then she’s having to play catch up, potentially, and sort of refit into this peer group that she’s been absent from for a few months, sometimes shorter, sometimes longer.


And there’s just a whole lot of different things that she’s trying to manage on top of her baby and everything else. And sometimes they just really don’t want to have those conversations with the employer.


They just say, Okay, I get a 15-minute pumping break. I’m like, you know, you’re supposed to pump for at least 15 minutes. So what about the time it takes to walk there and to set up and to clean everything? And what if you need to use the restroom, that’s not your only break for the day, right?


Or they’re pumping on their lunch hour trying to eat and pump at the same time. And just so much stress is added. And like you’re talking about that leads to these really low retention rates, where they ultimately say, Well, what in the world am I doing this for?


And, it’s really something that creates a lot of anxiety in those weeks leading up or days leading up to when they have to go back.


And I’m always the one who’s kind of like, well advocate for yourself and whatever, but at the same time, I have to really put myself in their shoes. And they may have a real jerk for a manager who hasn’t had that coaching like you provide. Or maybe they work in an all male environment, they’re the only female and so they’re like, Oh, here’s a bathroom, you can pump in when that’s not an appropriate space.


So, I love what you’re doing, because it’s so needed. And I would love to see more companies on board with your services and that education, because like you’re saying, really, if you just approach it with education, and support, then we can have it all go smoothly for everyone. And it’s a win-win. And it ultimately saves money and all of these amazing things.


I would love maybe if you could talk about, For a mom who’s listening to this thinking, I’m thinking of returning to work, or I know I’m going to return soon or I’m not sure if what I want to do which direction I want to go?


What are the things you know, she has an employer that doesn’t work with you? What are the things that she should be thinking about now to ask or to advocate for herself when she does go back? Or even before she returns?


Debi Yadegari  12:50

Yeah, great question. So for those moms who don’t want to, you know, rock the boat, they can always email us at Hello at Villyg: vi l And we can reach out to their employers, because as you said, a lot of it is education.


We know that moms who breastfeed are absent on 50% less than moms who formula feed. I mean, you and I both know it’s one because baby gets sick less often. So therefore less pediatrician visits, less sick days for baby, but it also keeps mom healthier.


So that’s money in a company’s pocket. Health care costs get reduced, there are so many statistics that we can show employers to get them on board to realize like, hey, this really is the smart play business-wise, and why they should be supporting a working mom, even if they don’t care.


So there’s both I would say an ethical duty as well as a financial incentive there. And so as far as mom, before she returns, she should reach out and have that conversation. And if she’s uncomfortable, she can start with an email, maybe to her boss or to HR, who every company is different, the applicable person, stating her intentions and placing them on notice that she is depending on her workday, let’s say it’s nine to five, that she’s going to need to pump, at least three times a day, and you’re working with an IBCLC such as you or whoever, whoever her healthcare provider is, if she needs help, she can always contact us figuring out a schedule and kind of pre plan that out.


And it gave them the heads up like look, it’s going to be in the morning upon arrival, I’m going to take a break, I’m going to do this at lunchtime, and then again in the afternoon, and put them on notice that the time isn’t that flexible.


Maybe I can delay, 15 minutes or 20 minutes, but I’d really appreciate if team meetings are moved around this if possible if she needs to attend certain things.


This is a big issue for people working in the medical field. People who go from patient to patient, they can always take their pumping brain when their body tells them to, and we know that that’s going to impact their supply. Working parents have to realize, and I think this is definitely a bigger issue the first time around that, number one, you’re a mother.


Don’t see it as advocating for yourself, because then it’s hard to speak up, you have a fiduciary responsibility to your child. If you  see yourself, if you take the mindset that you’re doing this for your child, and you’re protecting your child, and that all of this is to provide your child with the ideal source of nourishment for your child, then it’s easier to go in and advocate for yourself, and then you become a little bit of a mama bear.


It’s easier to scribe that email or have that conversation. But, you can set up the expectations in writing to make it easier.  Then, set a time by phone to connect before you go back to work, just to make it easier. You have a right to pump. An employer cannot take that away from you. Depending on where you live, I mentioned earlier that there are sometimes more stringent laws, New York City, for instance, you’re required to have access to refrigeration, running water and a few other things, it differs by state to state, even city to city.


You can always go online, or you can reach out to us and check what the regulations are, where you live, again, just to empower yourself with more information to go in there and be able to have that conversation.


But, it’s so important that everybody, continues to speak up and advocate for themselves, because we have to change the system. I’m trying to go in and change it. I’m going after the employers, but we really need to have a grassroots movement where moms say, enough is enough, this is what we need. Just to make it’s normal, it should be normal. I know breastfeeding as a whole. There’s a whole normalized breastfeeding movement, but we absolutely need to normalize pumping in the office as well.


Jacqueline Kincer  17:04

Yeah, I love that.


I like what you said about stating your needs. I think that subconsciously, employers and mothers tend to operate from this thing that, if breastfeeding doesn’t work out, we always have formulas as a fall back.


What, if you miss that pumping break? Well, you could just give formula, why don’t we just operate from the mindset, that formula is not an option?


If you’re wanting to make breastfeeding work, then it isn’t. And so yes, it will always be there as a fallback, but let’s think of it more as an emergency use only type of thing and really put breastfeeding at the forefront.


And no, it’s not negotiable to miss that pumping break. It has to be done for milk supply, for risking plug ducts and mastitis, which now you’re gonna have to take time off of work to, to fix that. And all the things just, like you said, advocating for your baby, if that helps you really go to bat and be the mama bear versus advocating for yourself. I think that’s a really powerful reframe of how to approach your employer.


It isn’t just about you, you’re not being selfish. That’s not what this is about. In fact, you’re doing something that’s incredibly selfless, by hooking yourself up to a pump for multiple times a day, so you can provide that nourishment for your child.


You mentioned some laws. And I know that it’s quite sad to me that we’ve even had to pass laws to allow women to breastfeed in public without covering. I think that’s just sort of a biological need. And unfortunately, gets compared to excretory bodily functions, which is not at all the same.


And there is this just sort of shift that needs to be made in our culture, like you said, a grassroots movement, but what are some of the laws that moms need to know about?


I know, there are some federal ones, there are state ones that vary, and even maybe municipalities, but what’s the overall kind of thing that when they’re advocating for themselves?


Because I’ve had moms come to me and say, well, they’ll only give me a bathroom to pump. But I’m like, there’s a law that says, you need a non bathroom place to pump so they have to accommodate you. And so where do they go when there is that pushback? And then what are their rights?


Debi Yadegari  19:16

Yeah, so number one, they have a right to pump and they have to be provided with a space that is not a bathroom, that has a lock, that has a feature that will protect them from being interfered upon. So that’s the space requirement.


And number two is the time requirement. It’s unlimited time, it’s as much time as needed. So some moms might need to take four breaks. Some moms if you’re working a 12 hour shift might have to take five, six breaks, whatever it is, as long as you need to take it. You’re allowed to take it.


So nobody can tell you it has to be during your lunch break. It has to be during  unpaid breaks, what gets a little bit stickier sometimes is depending where you are, sometimes the breaks are paid. Illinois, for instance, says that lactation breaks are paid. Mom shouldn’t be penalized for having to do that, which is great. Hats off to the legislators there.


So those are some of the nuances. But in all 50 states, it cannot be a bathroom. And you’re right, we still see bathrooms all the time.


One company called us and they were actually doing a build out. And they were so proud of themselves, because on every floor, they created within the bathroom, a lactation space and spent so much money on this. And we’re like, No! this is so illegal.


And the fact that they had spent so much money and so much thought and that they were doing something great. And it was like, Would you ever put the kitchen in the bathroom? I don’t care how pretty it is, you would never put a microwave within the bathroom. And that’s where everyone stores their lunches. Like it’s not where it goes.


And so many times, I think that employers just don’t recognize that. And going back to the point about advocating yourself, the more details that you can explain what you need. Sometimes your boss is not a parent. And that makes it even more difficult. And maybe they were a parent themselves. Maybe it’s a woman, maybe it’s a mom, and maybe she didn’t breastfeed, so maybe there’s oftentimes there’s a lack of understanding there. And so the more details that you can provide, instead of allowing it to come from the top down. So saying, like, I need three breaks, it’s going to take at least 30 minutes, you can expect this, and this is what I’m going to do, you’re gonna see me exit, you know, versus, you know, beating around the bush, I mean, well, I’m getting to take some breaks and expecting the employer to be like, Okay, well, what do you need, you know, just lay it out there your plan, and you will be protected under the law?


And if your employer does not, you can place a claim with the EEOC. And that will cause them to investigate the employer and to their practices. You can also of course, you can there’s doubt if, if it tends to be something that I mean, first, always talk to your manager about, you know, look, I have a right here, let’s try and rectify the situation, let’s try and make it Win Win what’s not, you know, these are my needs, what’s the issue here, and if you can do that, you can place a claim with the EEOC, but you know, you can always go, there’s always the case for discrimination, lactation discrimination lawsuits have increased actually, like 800% in the last 10 years, and employees are winning, um, you know, against employers that were, you know, not adhering to the laws. So I think the savvier employers know that. And so as soon as you pipe up and say something, even though it’s a little bit awkward, they will tend just to back off, you know, especially if it’s a male manager, I tend, as soon as you bring up anything that has to do with boobs in the office, they tend to just back off, whatever you need,


Jacqueline Kincer  22:57

tell me, right? No, that’s, that’s really good to know. And I’m so glad to hear that these lawsuits are happening and getting one because it’s, it’s such an important issue, and it’s near and dear to my heart. And, and I feel like, you know, when you were telling your story, um, you know, I feel like we had a bunch of similar background and like, I was a stockbroker, before I had my son. And I remember them telling me that, you know, you got 15 minutes break at, you know, mid morning, you can pump on your lunch, and you got 15 minutes break in the afternoon. And I was like, that’s not gonna work for me. And what if I need more time, or what if I’m in the middle of a meeting with a client, and I can’t go at that time. And, you know, like, I can’t just end the phone call and just go up and leave. And they did have a lactation room, which was great, they did not have a separate sink.


So I remember being pregnant, and walking into the kitchen, or a bathroom and seeing these other moms there who are washing their pumps and their pump parts in the sink. And I just felt so bad for them because they were just so out in the open and exposed and it just, and then they had a store in the same fridges. We all kept our lunches in and I just felt so bad for them. Like no one needs to see everything that you need to do like a pump is a medical device, you wouldn’t be watching your insulin pump at the kitchen sink. And so I just those things like just it always, I always thought well, way to go like good for you for keeping up with it. Because I think a lot of other parents wouldn’t keep up with it even just it’s a perceived social stigma to even if other people are looking at you going, Wow, that’s awesome that she’s pumping. You might be internalizing, oh, they’re looking at me weird, right?


And so we need to remove that from the workplace. And like you said, you know, providing running water that’s really important and something that a lot of employers don’t think about unless they’re putting it up in the bathroom, like you said, which is just really not okay, and I know I’ve seen those memes out there. You know, you wouldn’t eat your lunch in the bathroom. Right? And yes, of course, obviously. But I think what you said about you wouldn’t store your lunch in the bathroom, or you wouldn’t cook a meal in there like that, to me feels like it hits home a little better than actually eating in the bathroom.


Right? I think you make the point so much more eloquently there when you say that. And, you know, I, I think that there’s a lot of parents who might be listening to this going, Okay, that sounds really great. I have rights, I can go check out the EEOC, I can have a conversation with my employer or HR or whatever, and do all these things. How do we help moms get over the anxiety of even doing that? Because like you said, you know, it’s not enough to just go to the employer and say, Well, I’m going to need some breaks, and then expecting them to ask, well, how often do you need breaks, you really have to come with this clear cut plan.


So they can create this plan. But I know there are going to be a lot of moms who are filled with anxiety, especially in this economic environment right now, where unemployment numbers are very high to have a job to go back to, or maybe you’re starting a new job during this time, you may feel like, oh, gosh, I really want to keep this job, I need this job to make this money to take care of my family and all of that, they may, they may have more of a hesitation, what would be your coaching for them or something, you know, words of encouragement, anything that you would give them in terms of, you know, not being so passive when it comes to this issue.


Debi Yadegari  26:21

I mean, words of encouragement is just you can do it, like, you know, don’t think that this is going to be held against you, this is you, this is like one step in your career to start advocating for yourself. It’s this today, you know, be. So I think part of the problem here is that, like I said, a lot of these are like first parent issues. And so once you’ve been in the game for a while and had a few kids, you’re also gone up the ladder, hopefully, and develops, you know, more leadership experience, and then you’re more comfortable talking out and advocating for yourself. So we’re asking moms to do some, like the biggest asks At the early part of their career, you know, and this is an oftentimes, they’re not used to managing other people.


Yeah. And now all of a sudden, they’re managing maybe a babysitter or nanny or a childcare provider. And I also see so many moms, you know, bowing down to their nannies or their childcare providers, it’s like they know more, you are mom, like, you have no more important job than to protect your child at this point advocate for them, whatever their needs are, you need to speak up, whether it’s to the childcare provider, and something that you don’t like happening at daycare, whether it’s your inability to, to meet your breastfeeding goals, whether it’s down the line, when you need to be there for soccer or ballet be able to have that conversation with your boss in a timely fashion, like two weeks out, you know, heads up, I’m gonna have to leave a little bit early on Thursday, I’ll come in earlier because I need to be there for an important event. In order to make work life happen, we need to learn how to talk about it and integrate the two in our conversation.


And we can’t have this like Chinese wall where the two don’t overlap. It’s not realistic. Because when you leave the office or the virtual office or check out, you’re still on your phone in the evenings, right? It’s the way our society works these days, even if you’re technically off the clock, we’re working 24/7 we’re checking our emails, we’re thinking about work. same token, we can’t check our parenting hat at the door. When we start when we log on to the computer in the morning. It’s It’s who we are. And by trying to put up these barriers, we’re diminishing a part of ourselves.


Instead, we need to take those skills, the newly developed skills of you know, micromate not micromanaging, I’m sorry, multitasking. You know, all of these things, you know, before you go back to work, you’ve been out on leave, you’ve learned how to take care and keep alive a whole nother human being that’s really hard, well, caring for yourself, after you’ve gone through this, like incredibly traumatic experience of birth, trying to keep the house together, trying to keep your eye on the prize of going back to work. You know, you have to be so proud of yourself. And nobody can do more than a mom, right? We are the best multitaskers. So you have to give yourself a pep talk. And just go in there and do it. And to make it a little bit easier to one of your other to adjust another part of your question. ERGs are great employee resource groups. When you first become pregnant, you know, try and talk to other moms find out if there’s anything there. If it’s not start something, you know, again, going back to creating things from grassroots efforts. A lot of our clients at village have come to us from employee manifestos.


So groups of moms have gotten together, pregnant, you know, people, new moms, breastfeeding moms, and said, like, we need better here and they’ve written like a whole recommendation to HR, you know, of what HR should do, and they’ve signed it and had lots of other people sign it so that way it doesn’t feel like one person’s job is on align, it’s more like wake up HR. You know, if you want to retain all of us, you’ve got to do something here. You know, most employers 50% of the employees are working parents, and working parents, I mean, not working as HR, I think it’s starting to wake up to the need to provide resources and support for working parents, because they know that this is what’s necessary to both attract and retain their top talent. And talent is the number one resource, a company’s not going to be able to make their widgets or do whatever they do without top people, and working parents, moms that have proven the ability to juggle, they’re going to be some of the most successful employees. And if you can start advocating for yourself on when it comes to just your baby’s breastfeeding needs and your needs to pump in the office, know you’re going to be a much more successful employee down the line, a much more successful leader, it’s going to catapult your career, the ability to speak up and advocate for yourself. Yeah, I


Jacqueline Kincer  31:04

Oh, gosh, you’re so so many great things. And I just really want to say thank you for that. Because I hope that there are people listening who own companies to because if you’re listening, what you’ll realize is that to create a really successful company and have people who, you know, don’t just come in to collect a paycheck, but they’re really there to help grow the company as well. If you treat them so well, they will do the same for you in return, you know, and so when you give your employees the gift of really honoring these, you know, biological needs and the needs of being a parents, like you said, so many parents in the workforce, it’s not a minority by any means. And so when you can give them that gift and reduce their employee stress, you know, we know people learn better when they’re not stressed, they’re more productive when they’re not stressed.


Ultimately, there’s just so much cost savings, time savings, resource savings, by just providing some of these resources upfront, where you don’t end up having to provide longer term or more of them are more expensive ones on the back end. And I just so so wish that this message really gets out to as many employers as possible, you know, I’ve been lucky enough to work with, you know, several clients who, you know, get Lactation Support covered by their employers. And I think that’s so amazing that they’re even taking that stuff that’s a little above and beyond, like, that’s not a legal requirement in terms of like, the lactation room, you know, so companies who engage with you or other companies out there, or that they’ll just, you know, straight reimburse it, which is, which is awesome, even though insurance should be covering up, that’s a whole other topic.


But employers who are really, you know, forward thinking and going, how can we make this time for our employees, you know, the most successful possible so that we can keep them. And any smart employer knows that, you know, retention is going to cost a lot less than trying to go through the hiring process of finding someone else. So I would hope that they would have that in mind, although not all do. One thing that kind of came up as a question I thought maybe some people listening might have for this is, you know, when you’re working with with some of these companies, and you have these employees that you’re working with, and you provide, so there’s counseling and coaching and education and on call lactation consultants, what would you say are some of the biggest concerns that you have these employees expressed to you? Is it is it milk supply? Is it actually using the palm? Is it something else?


Debi Yadegari  33:41

milk supply is a big one, you know, I, I think for moms going back to work or not going back to work, that’s always the big one, you know, and I think it becomes more of an issue, when they start to go back, when they actually go go back to work, they say, you know, their milk supplies diminishing, and we know that, you know, the less often that they express their bras, there’s going to be some truth to that. They’re going to be sending hormonal messages to their body for their body to make last because their body will interpret that as the baby being weaned.


And so it’s so important that work and so and then sometimes these moms will come to us and be like, you know, what, kind of, you know, they’re looking for galactic logs, or, you know, and it’s like, you know, what kind of teas can I take? Or what can I eat, I really need to help my books with it. It’s like, pumping, you know, you got to really prioritize those pumping sessions and make time for yourself. It’s, we have to change our framework, because it’s so easy for us to push our own needs aside to skip lunch, you know, to get something done at the office, but you can’t skip your pumping sessions.


Jacqueline Kincer  34:49

Yeah, yeah, that’s a good point. And I I do so often get that question. You know, what brand of herbs do you like or you know, just cookies and and You know, that’s the things are really nice little extra treats for yourself. And I definitely use herbs when there is a clinical, you know, milk supply problem. But, you know, like you said, it really is a removal issue, we have to remove the milk often enough and long enough to really tell our bodies to create that feedback loop. But yeah, the baby is still there, and still lots of demands, and that they’re not meaning.


It’s important to acknowledge that, and I’m glad that I asked, because I can see how, you know, in my work with clients who’ve gone back to work and things, often there’s a perceived decrease in milk production as well. And you mentioned, you know, this may be the first time in a parent’s life where they’ve had to manage people, the nanny, the childcare provider, whatever it is, and whether it’s a private nanny or a daycare center, I often find that most of those people are not educated in proper bottle feeding techniques, and they tend to over feed the babies and feed them on a schedule that doesn’t necessarily work for that particular baby. And so we run into these issues of, you know, well, you know, they went through 20 ounces today, and I’m like, Wait, how many hours? Are you at work? And they’re like, eight, and I’m like, There’s no way your baby should have drink 20 ounces in eight hours. Right? So yeah, so also often give parents education to have them tell the provider what to do that’s caring for their child. And I’m sure you’ve encountered this multiple times where I’m like, why are they giving your baby eight ounce bottles, what is happening?


Debi Yadegari  36:31

Absolutely yet, like number one, like all the listeners out there, make sure that you know about, like upright feeding out, you know, slow that bottle feeding down, make sure that you have a slow nipple, you know, no, breastfed baby takes eight-ounce bottles, um, and something that we see this issue a lot with people who take their children to daycares. And daycares there certain protocols. So for instance, if they make a bottle, and they feed the baby, the bottle, and then the baby gets distracted, or they get distracted and have to take care of another baby, they have to immediately make another bottle, they have to trash the bottle, not immediately. And then you know, whenever they try again, maybe it’s just 20 minutes later, 45 minutes later, they have to make a fresh bottle, fine.


If it’s formula that you can go to the store and buy more terrible thing. If it’s breast milk, right, we don’t want to waste an ounce. And so when we’ve seen the situation, we will advise the moms who are using daycares to provide one ounce bags, you know, yes, it’s more work for the daycare. But if they’re going to be trashing your milk, then let’s give them lots of different one ounce bags that they can keep filling up, because we don’t want to lose a drop. So you know, and another thing going back to the first time mom and the perception of less milk, is sometimes moms don’t realize the first time around is that your breasts don’t continue to feel full, right, you don’t have that pornstar look, you know, for the entire first year of breastfeeding, it’s something that tends to go away after a certain period of time.


And usually it’s the time when they start to return to work. So sometimes there’s this perception where like, I don’t feel like my breasts don’t feel full on they can go to their babies not lacking milk, their baby’s not, you know, the baby’s still growing, all the signs are there that there’s milk, but sometimes there’s that perception that because they’re no longer leaking or their breasts are no longer as full as they were in the earlier days that maybe they’re not making enough and then they also start to feel a little bit paranoid and think about introducing breast milk. I’m sorry, formula.


Jacqueline Kincer  38:27

Yeah, that’s very true. And I think more women need education on that. It’s going to happen between the six and 12-week postpartum mark. Most of the time where your supply regulates to what your baby needs and then a little bit extra but not that crazy oversupply amount that you may have had before.


And I have a lot of moms who will go I was pumping you know, 10 ounces and now I only pump six and I’m like, that’s a lot so absolutely incredible and more than your baby needs. Right so so we have to it’s not always comparing relatives we stopped to look at like the absolute numbers of what would a baby that age and weight normally be taking her feeding and all of that but like you said, I do think it’s a really good idea for moms to have a bit of like an insurance policy so to speak of having extra milk in case you know, they can do the store in small quantities.


It’s always a great idea especially if it’s a daycare if it’s a private nanny you have a little more say over what happens and you can give them the milk storage guidelines that are out there you know, by the CDC and others you know, breast milk, you know, doesn’t have to be tossed if the bottles not finished and things like that. But it’s always going to be something that gives you peace of mind if you just do make more milk because then your baby needs in case something happens. What if the bottle drops and breaks and spills everywhere?


You know, or what if you’re pumping and you know, oh gosh, you’re just gonna have a total breakdown but you drop the bag or something and it spills everywhere. Like let’s just always try to have a little bit of a backup but I always tell moms, you do not need to have that you know What I think it started on Pinterest where we’ve been see how I pumped 200 ounces that like, they bought an extra freezer for it. And that’s, that’s an extreme that we don’t necessarily need to go to. So for when you work with moms, you know, do you feel like that balance is really key for them that they need that peace of mind, but we don’t want them to go into overdrive and be pumping, you know, unnecessarily six times in eight hours, right?


Debi Yadegari  40:25

Absolutely. Because we also don’t want to create an oversupply, because that’s equally going to become problematic. What we advise is, you know, just pumping that extra bottle in the morning, maybe you know, because, as you know, it’s always easiest, because of hormonal cycles to produce more milk in the morning. And so that’s a way just to maybe throw some in the freezer, and you can even breastfeed from one side and pump from the other side before you go to work. You know, so we always recommend is that being the little bonus, something else that I just want to put out there for people to think about also is, I think sometimes, especially when people are gearing up to go back to work, and there are they have started to go back to work.


And they have gotten through those horrible conversations, and they start pumping, and they’re doing it three times a day. And there’s like, oh, my gosh, this is so long, you know, I can’t do this, I need to quit. But you have to realize, like, they’re already like halfway to solids, usually by the time they return to work. And again, it’s the perspective of having already, you know, had a few kids that will give you that, that time will go by so quickly. And before you know it, you’re not going to be having to pump all the time at the office, and they will start solid and it will slowly become less tedious.


It’s really just that little portion of time, but you have to get used to it at the beginning, when you’re going back, that’s the huge hump to get over. And then it becomes much easier to pump at the office and eventually, you know, you’re you’re not even gonna be a pump, it’ll be 12 months, and you won’t even realize it, and you won’t be as pumping as much and you’ll be so proud of yourself. It’s so rewarding, because we received so much positive feedback from our clients employees saying like I made it, you know, I reached my goal. And you know, these are so many is so many times their moms that thought that they they were going to give up like, I’m sure you work with moms like this, they only wanted to get to six months, and then they got to six months, like okay, I can do it another day, you know, and just sometimes that’s all it takes is just you just have to keep your mindset on like today.


Let me get through today. Sometimes, you know, it’s let me get through this morning. And I think parenting is that too. Sometimes some days, you have to be like just taking it minute by minute or let me get to naptime or just let me get to bedtime today. And before you know it, you’ve exceeded your breastfeeding goals. And you never want to be in the position of having regret, especially due to an outside force that you felt that your decision was foisted upon you. I started the conversation with you saying, I felt that the decision to leave my job was foisted upon Me. Because I didn’t have the support.


And I was lucky enough that I had the option financially to be able to walk away and say I’m going to continue this relationship. And I know that for many moms, it’s the inverse, right? They say what I’m going to give up is the breastfeeding part. And then they have guilt, and advocate for yourself, please, please, please speak up. And if you need help seek the resources of another working parent within your organization or outside of your organization, or see the resources of a third party provider such as village that can go in and advocate for you. And you know, just go in there and say, hey, you know, we we’ve heard from employees that, you know, this is something that would be very beneficial, how can we help you.


And, you know, going back to the point that you made earlier about retention, a lot of people don’t realize that the average replacement cost for an employee is 300% of somebody’s salary 300%. So that’s three years of someone’s pay. So as an employer, if you can provide a little bit of support for whatever that period is that the employee is pumping, you’re going to come out ahead, right, the two have to lose that employee pay 300% of their salary replacement costs, lost institutional knowledge, nobody’s going to be a winner. So we have to just change the culture and change the conversation and make this a normal piece of bringing up children. And a normal piece of working parenthood as an extension.


Jacqueline Kincer  44:26

I love that it’s such a good place to end our conversation because I just love the tools and sort of the mindset things that you’re giving to anyone who’s listening and yeah it’s huge. I mean, I don’t always love talking about the benefits of breastfeeding because I feel like it sort of makes breastfeeding sound optional.


But when we talk about the risks of not breastfeeding, this is a different conversation, not the health risks, but we’re talking about, the risks to the economy so the employer to so many things.


And, if we’re not supporting breastfeeding in these, working environments, we’re really doing ourselves a huge, huge disservice. So I think the incredible background that you had being in the workforce as you were before you started village has brought so much into your company in what you do for these parents and these employers.


And I just want to thank you so much for being someone out there doing this work. And I’m so glad that I found you. Because, quite honestly, I didn’t know that you existed until we set up this podcast interview.


And I hope that by you being on my show that more people will know about you, whether it’s employees contacting you to have you reach out and advocate for them, or someone who’s an employer listening and going, You know what? That’s something we really need to do as a company. So thank you, Debbie.


Debi Yadegari  45:51

Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it so much.


Jacqueline Kincer  45:55

Yeah, absolutely. And, I know you’ve got a beautiful website full of great resources and information, what is your website for everyone who’s listening? And I’ll put that in the show notes as well.


Debi Yadegari  46:06

Sure. It’s Village, spelled


Jacqueline Kincer  46:15

Awesome. And she’s got all these social media, everything. If you want to find him on Instagram, and everything, I’ll link all that up in the show notes. For anyone who’s listening. That way, it’s easy to click on and get to. So thank you, Debbie, I appreciate you being here today.


Debi Yadegari  46:29

Thank you have a great afternoon.



In this episode we are diving deep into the challenges and triumphs that breastfeeding mothers face when they return to work outside the home. Our guest expert is Debi Yadegari, Founder and CEO of Villyge, an employer-paid benefit for working parents that amongst other things, provides corporate lactation support. She brings a wealth of information to us that you don’t want to miss if you know you’ll be resuming work–or even if you already have!

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • The laws and regulations that protect your rights to pump while at work
  • Common pitfalls breastfeeding moms face when leaving the home
  • How to set yourself up for work-life-breastfeeding balance success