Breastfeeding mothers need to stick to a strict regimen of pumping their milk when they're apart from their child, but a Minnesota mom ran into trouble trying to do just that at Hennepin County Government Center.
Amanda Chandler described her experience of serving jury duty while needing to pump in a Facebook post that has been shared more than 1,100 times as of Thursday afternoon.
She said she was "completely disappointed with the lack of regard and dismissal I felt when trying to pump ... on a schedule" this past Tuesday, saying several attempts to be excused so she could go and pump were ignored.
She told KARE 11 that in order to pump, she had to put a special request on a juror questionnaire, which was noticed by a defense attorney.
"My determined schedule (which is already less than my normal at home schedule) was neglected even as I tried advocating for myself over and over to clerk after clerk and to the judge herself," she wrote on Facebook. "When needing to pump at least 4 times today I was granted 2 times."
When she did get the chance to pump, she was ushered to what she describes ironically as "this gem of a room" – the bathroom pictured below – which did little to improve her mood.
Chandler was dismissed from jury duty on Wednesday, but is using Facebook to raise awareness of Minnesota laws regarding nursing mothers, which according to the Minnesota Breastfeeding Coalition state women should be allowed to breastfeed anytime, anywhere, whether in public or in private.
This Minnesota statute says employers should provide unpaid break time each day to an employee who needs to express breast milk, and make "reasonable efforts" to provide a room other than a bathroom or toilet stall where they can express milk privately.
The statute, however, does not make mention of what organizations are to do when it comes to visitors.
Nonetheless, Chandler thinks the government center needs to do more to cater for breastfeeding women, saying: "Seems pretty ironic that the very place which is supposed to uphold and enforce the laws would not follow or adhere to them."
KARE 11 notes the Hennepin County does have private rooms for its employees who are nursing mothers, though it requires a county username and password to enter.
In a comment sent to GoMN, Hennepin County said the district court does have a "quiet room" on the 24th floor near the jury assembly room designed "with nursing mothers in mind.
However, it added: "Through a miscommunication, which we regret, a jury panelist was not originally advised of the availability of this room. District Court strives to respect the physical and medical needs of all its jurors. "
According to Exclusive Pumping, the amount of times a mother needs to pump breastmilk when apart from their child depends on the age of their baby – but for someone with a baby under three months old, it may be required as often as once every 2-3 hours.