The Business Case For Breastfeeding
Finding the ladies’ room an unacceptable place to pump, new mom Liz Ryan set up her company’s first lactation room:
It was a converted broom closet, but it did the trick. People who worked white-collar jobs where they could get up from their desks and take a pumping break twice a day could use the room. Hourly employees standing on our assembly lines couldn’t do that so easily. They needed somebody to replace them for the half an hour or so the pumping break would take.
Ryan writes from a “white-collar” perspective, but her insights should apply for women with blue, or pink, (or no) collars:
It is a new day. The Human Workplace is already here. Babies need milk, and their moms are full of it. It’s a small thing to make it easy for a nursing mom to pump milk for her baby during the workday, and every company can get on board.
You can set up a lactation room for almost no money and make it easy for a working mom to use it.
I currently serve as President of the Allegheny County Breastfeeding Coalition. We have been working on this sticky problem for years. Every year we seek nominations for a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace and a Breastfeeding Friendly Public Place. Some workplaces have taken a few small changes to make it more convenient for moms to breastfeed, and received the public recognition for their efforts. Other workplaces have not deemed this important. Much more work needs to be done. As this article shows, our society is NOT very breastfeeding friendly. The majority of American babies receive something other than species-specific milk for the first year of their life. Obviously, they are not old enough to complain.
The key public health point Ryan makes is this:
“Mother’s milk isn’t just good for the individual baby it feeds, although the more we learn about the benefits of breastmilk, the more amazing its powers turn out to be. Mother’s milk is good for all of us. Healthy babies make healthy communities.”
Making it easier for mothers to breastfeed (or pump breast milk) at work is good for the mothers, good for their babies, and actually makes good business sense for the company. The return on investment is significant.
For those who are interested in the business aspect of this issue, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has published The Business Case for Breastfeeding on its website. Check it out!