Breastfeeding in the Workplace

Via TOMMEE TIPPEE

Many employers are not aware of the federal Break Time for Nursing mothers law that requires employers to administer accommodations for nursing mothers in the workplace. The accommodations to be provided consist of time for women to take a break and pump milk, as well as a private room besides just a bathroom for them to do so. Since many employers are not informed, these resources are not usually provided to working mothers, making it difficult for them to balance nursing and working at the same time. Numerous disadvantages come about when these basic accommodations are not met, therefore, tips and information for employers are provided.

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Via Oregon Business

According to the Office on Women’s Health, “the need to pump or express breastmilk is a biological need, similar to the need to eat or sleep.” Since there has been a rise in working mothers and many employers are not providing these women with the proper accommodations, there has been a decline in breastfeeding. Studies have shown that mothers who return back to work terminate breastfeeding at much higher rates than mothers who continue to stay home. There are numerous benefits to breastfeeding one’s child, which include strengthened immune system, improved cognitive development and less risk of various health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, bacterial meningitis, overweight, etc. The benefits to the nursing mother include decreased blood loss (postpartum and menstrual) and a lessened risk of development of breast and ovarian cancers. Therefore, inadequate resources and support can have detrimental effects on both the mother and child.

Via Beaumont

There are an abundance of resources for employers to use as tips on how to provide the best support to their nursing employees. Employers are expected to provide a private space that is not a bathroom for nursing mothers to pump or breastfeed. This private space does not necessarily have to be labeled a “lactation room.” There are even mobile options for companies that do not have sufficient resources to provide this to their employees. These include using mobile screens or tall cubicles. All that is needed is a functional space that has enough room for a chair and a flat surface for the pump and/or milk. In addition to providing these basic accommodations, employers can also provide support services to employees. Support services consist of implementing breastfeeding policies, communicating this policy to employees as soon as they disclose that they are pregnant, allowing employees that have utilized these services in the past to comment on their experiences and giving respect to nursing mothers in their breastfeeding decisions. Providing these services has shown to increase employee satisfaction and retention rates.

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To conclude, employers are expected by federal law to provide basic accommodations to nursing employees. These accommodations include time breaks for breastfeeding or pumping milk and a private space that is not a bathroom to do so in. Not providing this support to employees decreases the rate of breastfeeding, which could have adverse effects on the baby and the mother. Some tips for employers consist of implementing a breastfeeding policy, communicating that policy to employees and checking in with employees who have utilized the policy to document their experiences. Providing this support will increase employee satisfaction, well-being and retention rates. Nursing mothers deserve to feel comfortable and understood where they work. Enforcing this policy is how it starts.