You will find French and Spanish cuisine in Chaval in Portland, Maine, and a hard-working mother, Ilma Lopez.
“Being a mom is hard, period,” Lopez said. “It’s very rewarding, but it’s very difficult.”
As a chef and restaurant owner, Lopez said breastfeeding her baby was both a joy and a challenge.
“You’re so stressed that you want to make sure you’re producing enough milk, eating right and pumping at the right time,” Lopez said.
She is grateful that she is getting help through the support program Pumpspotting. Amy VanHaren founded the company seven years ago.
“For parents, through Pumpspotting, we offer access to our mobile app that helps them navigate the day-to-day process of baby care, pumping and feeding,” said VanHaren. “And for companies with our workplace lactation programs, we help them create a culture that’s supportive of breastfeeding and feeding, so they can attract and retain working parents.”
Pumpspotting recently launched Pumpspotting for business with Kalamata’s Kitchen, Resy and LEE Initiative. It’s a guide for businesses across the country to create a mother-friendly work culture.
“Helps you create policies, think about your spaces, how you work with your team and time in terms of pump breaks?” VanHaren said. “So we give you all the tools you need.”
VanHaren says restaurants are a particular focus, as she’s noticed that many of them are struggling to retain employees after the pandemic. However, the ultimate goal is to help all industries.
Liz Morris with the research organization Labor Law Center the options mentioned exist to provide a break anywhere.
“For example, in agriculture, farm workers used pop-up tents so they could express breast milk in the fields,” Morris said. “Retail employees can use extension cords and a changing room. Fast food workers can use the manager’s office to express breast milk.’
Morris said she wants working mothers to know they have rights.
Title Seven of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on gender and pregnancy in employment. The A break for nursing mothers requires most employers to provide employees with a private space and a reasonable time to express breast milk during the workday.
“Unfortunately, nine million women of childbearing age remain outside the protections of this law because of an inadvertent drafting error when the law was originally written,” Morris said.
She said there is bipartisan legislation in D.C. called the Breastfeeding Pumps Act. This would ensure that all workers have the right to pump and feed. Lopez says she learned that business owners and managers need to be flexible.
“You can’t just put a time on pumping,” Lopez said. “I think that’s a misconception that we all have. Like, “Yeah, go ahead, swing for 10 minutes.” It’s just not fair or right.”
Passionate about her restaurant and her children, Lopez said it’s possible to find a balance between motherhood and professional aspirations.
“I hope people don’t have to make that sacrifice or decision not to have children because of their careers,” Lopez said.