Alex Jones has revealed she gave up breastfeeding her child when she returned to work because of a lack of facilities for mums at the BBC.
The One Show presenter is now urging the BBC and other companies to ‘support families’ and provide better support for mothers returning to the workplace.
Alex, who is 41, returned to work just three months after giving birth to her first child Teddy in January 2017.
Speaking to BBC radio presenter Clemency Burton-Hill at the Hay literary Festival, Alex said: ‘Companies say all the right things. They say yes we’re there – we’re going to support families, make it possible for dads to take paternity leave, for mothers to take extended maternity leave, to feed at work.
‘Actually the truth is, the facilities still aren’t there. They talk a good game but even at the BBC there isn’t a creche, there isn’t a room where you can express, there isn’t a fridge where you can keep your milk.’
The Welsh TV presenter went on to say that it was the lack of facilities that actually made her eventually give up on breastfeeding baby Teddy.
‘Nobody says you have to keep up breastfeeding but that was just something I wanted to do,’ she explained.
‘But I work in quite a male-dominated environment and it’s hard to be doing a meeting and trying to express breast milk. It just didn’t work and so I had to throw in the towel.’
Alex is currently promoting her parenting book Winging It, which is aimed at older first-time mothers who continue to work after giving birth.
The mother-of-one said she had returned to work too quickly – not because of pressure from the BBC – but because of the pressure she put on herself, fearful that her stand-in would be doing too well. ‘What if they are amazing? What if they are brilliant?’ she asked herself.
Meanwhile, during the chat, Clemency, 36, told Alex that in fact there was a mothers’ room on the third floor of BBC Broadcasting House – a different building to where The One Show is filmed.
She recalled using the room every day after giving birth in 2014, but said unfortunately it wasn’t in the best of conditions.
‘You have to really know what you’re looking for and it is down a corridor. You get in there it’s dark, it’s smelly, it hasn’t been cleaned for a week,’ she said.
‘I used to go in there at 9am and find these blokes on the sofa having a kip from overnight news channel shifts… the men would look resentful that I roused them from their beauty sleep.’
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When approached by GoodtoKnow, a BBC spokesperson said: ‘The BBC already offers flexible working, jobshares and childcare vouchers, whilst Donalda MacKinnon [director of BBC Scotland] is currently leading a piece of work to examine what more can be done to support mothers and all women in the workplace.
‘This review has been hearing from women across the BBC as well as examining best practice in other organisations and will be reporting back soon.’
They also confirmed that additional support can be made available for employees who become carers, parents or take on parental responsibility, including shared parental leave, paid paternity leave and adoption leave.