Why should employers offer women the means to breastfeed while working? The benefits truly outweigh the costs for both mother and employer.
What do lactating working mothers need?
The lactation essentials at work include:
- A private space with a door that locks (not a bathroom)
- Breast milk is food and should be prepared with appropriate care.
- There could be a designated space for all in-office lactation or the breastfeeding employee’s office.
- A comfy chair
- An electrical outlet for a breast pump
- A miniature refrigerator
- The milk is kept at a safe temperature.
- Avoid using a common area fridge for breastmilk.
- Midday breaks and flexible scheduling
- Breastfeeding is not a task that can easily be postponed or adjusted each day.
- Most women will pump two or three times during the workday, for about 15 to 20 minutes each time.
- A compromising, sympathetic attitude will go a long way for working parents, which equals lower turnover rates.
- Resentment or inflexibility will only harm the office environment and make it harder for a mom to work productively or stay with the company.
- Studies show that offering resources and education on breastfeeding to all employees (women and men) leads to fewer absences of men later on, as their infants are likely to be breastfed longer and get sick less often.
- According to one study, 83% of employees were more positive about their company as a result of breastfeeding education; 67% made it their long-term employer.
Why should breastfeeding be encouraged by employers?
- It’s the healthiest option for babies and their parents.
- Babies who are breastfed get sick less often, meaning lower absenteeism rates for their parents.
- Mothers who formula-feed take one-day absences twice as often.
- It decreases health care costs as breastfeeding strengthens infants’ immune systems.
- Mothers can take shorter maternity leaves if they know they will be able to pump at work.
- The retention rate for companies with lactation support rises to 94.2%, significantly higher than the national average retention rate: 59%.
More on breastfeeding
More on formula
The Business Case for Breastfeeding, by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The Business Case for Breastfeeding, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
By Grace Berning