Employers benefit by supporting breastfeeding
August 7, 2001
More and more employers are realizing the importance of providing breastfeeding support in the workplace.
When working mothers are able to continue to breastfeed, the employer benefits. Breastfed babies are sick less often; therefore, maternal absenteeism from work is significantly lower in companies with established lactation programs. In addition, employer medical costs are lower and employee productivity is higher. Supporting breastfeeding makes economic sense.
Colorado mothers initiate breastfeeding at a much higher rate than other women nationwide. However, Colorado mothers struggle to continue to breastfeed. Approximately 83 percent of Colorado mothers initiate breastfeeding; however, by 6 months of life, only 40 percent of Colorado babies are being breastfed. Workplace support of breastfeeding is critical for mothers’ success with continued breastfeeding.
How can the workplace environment enable mothers to continue to breastfeed?
Allow breaks, flexible work hours, and part-time work or job sharing so that women can pump their milk or breastfeed their infants.
Provide a private area that is clean and comfortable for mothers to express their milk.
Provide a maternity-leave policy that enables mothers to establish a breastfeeding routine before returning to work.
Establish corporate policies that include providing information for all employees on the benefits of breastfeeding and services available to support breastfeeding women.
Provide a refrigerator for safe storage of breast milk.
Employers who support a working woman’s choice to breastfeed enhance their reputation as a company concerned for the welfare of its employees and their families, as well as benefiting economically.
For more information on worksite support of breastfeeding, please call Susan Bowler at 824-8233 ext. 208. (Susan Bowler is with the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.)