WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — August is National Breastfeeding Month, which is a time of year that highlights the importance of breastfeeding for children and also the challenges new parents face when being able to care for their children.
Debi Yadegari, founder and CEO of Villyge, said we have come a long way in the past decade with breastfeeding in the workplace.
“I am a working mother of five,” Debi said. “I have children that vary in age between age three and age 15. And it was my personal experience with my 15-year-old daughter that set me down this path to start my own company.”
Leaving her job as a Wall Street lawyer, Debi turned to helping families through a company she founded called Villyge. Her company supports working parents as they navigate raising children while also having a career. This includes breastfeeding support in the workplace.
“Especially when mom is trying to maintain her breastfeeding schedule or pumping schedule at work, sometimes she needs to have awkward conversations with managers, HR and superiors,” Debi said. “So that’s where we are able to come in and empower the breastfeeding employee to help them navigate those conversations.”
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the breastfeeding conversation with employers. In the past, Villyge talked to employers about setting up a proper lactation room and what they should do to support new parents. But with many parents working from home without childcare support, families are struggling to find ways to manage children and work at the same time.
“Now we’re talking to employers about the need to be more flexible with hours,” Debi said. “We’re talking to employers and employees about appropriate behavior. Is it okay or not okay for people to bring their child to breastfeed on camera or should they be angling their cameras up so they can still take the meeting.”
One thing that hasn’t changed is how new moms are supporting each other. Debi said a lot of her clients come from other working parents coming together – either pregnant moms or breastfeeding moms – and saying, “We deserve better.”
“The conversation has absolutely changed, but we still have a long way to go,” Debi said.