Roslyn resident, Debi Yadegari founded a company which provides lactation accommodations for new parents. The company, MommaWork, was developed in 2013 after Yadegari found herself feeling frustrated at the lack of support she received regarding breastfeeding in the workplace. When Yadegari was ready to return back to the workforce, she decided to start her own company to help businesses support their employees needs as parents.
“I really want to make a difference in the lives of working parents,” stated Yadegari. “When MommaWork first began, the company focused on all things breastfeeding.” They offered the same corporate lactation programs and lactation law guidance that they still offer today, but they also made lactation house calls, shipped breast milk and maintained an online breastfeeding shop that sold nursing essentials.
“Very quickly, with the expansion of local and state lactation accommodation laws, our focus shifted to serving solely the corporate sector and we rebranded as MommaWork in 2018,” said Yadegari.
Currently, the New York State Labor Law requires New York State employers to “provide nursing mothers in the workplace with reasonable unpaid breaks to express breast milk for up to three years following the birth of a child.”
According to the New York Law Journal, on March 18, 2019, New York City passed two new laws that expand the rights of nursing mothers in the workplace. Specifically, the laws set forth new mandatory standards that require employers to provide a lactation room and to implement written lactation room accommodation policies in the workplace.
“It is our belief that working parents should not have to choose between achieving their families’ personal goals and professional success,” said Yadegari.
MommaWork works with companies of all sizes in all industries (with a primary focus in finance, technology and law) to provide comprehensive support plans for all working parents. By creating the tools and resources employees need to be successful at home and in the office, MommaWork helps to empower employees, boost productivity, reduce legal liability and turnover, protect institutional knowledge and helps to close the gender pay gap.
Inspired by her mission, Yadegari divides her time between bringing awareness to working parents and the consumer marketplace, with hopes of sending a message that there is an ethical need and financial incentive for employers to provide more support to working parents.
“In a time when work and home life are no longer segmented, but rather connected 24/7 by technology, employers have an ethical responsibility to rethink the status quo,” said Yadegari.
According to the MommaWork website, “employees are more likely to return to work post-baby, when their employer provides a supportive environment for continued breastfeeding. Companies with comprehensive lactation support programs have a post-maternity retention rate of 94 percent, compared to the national average of only 59 percent.”
On May 10, MommaWork was named “one of the leading companies aiming to improve motherhood,” by Forbes Magazine. According to the article, “as of Mother’s Day 2019, these startups have attracted $500 million in venture capitalists,” MommaWork was listed as number five on the list.
“Ten years from now, I envision a marketplace that is 90 percent compliant with lactation accommodation laws and provides the resources necessary to allow working parents to achieve their personal and professional goals. I dream of the day when employers recognize their role and the importance of supporting caregivers,” Yadegari added.
To date, MommaWork has worked with approximately 50 companies to provide their employees with lactation support programs. Maayan Yefet works for a company that has hired MommaWork’s services to provide a separate lactation room in their office space.
“As a first time mom, you have so many insecurities,” said Yefet. “I’ve dealt directly with Debi and she’s always available with any questions or concerns I’ve had.”
Yefet said she feels very fortunate to have a space other than a restroom where she can go to pump.
“It’s nice to feel like there’s support for nursing moms. I wouldn’t want to be in a bathroom with my child’s food. I think it’s important to have that space available for nursing moms, if I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t be as encouraged to continue breastfeeding [after returning to work],” said Yefet.
Yadegari is a certified lactation counselor, breastfeeding expert, attorney and mother of five; she also regularly serves as a legal expert and contributing editor to various publications, including Working Mother Magazine. To learn more about MommaWork’s services, visit www.mommawork.com.