Thanks in part to continue stigma, and sometimes simply practical issues, it can be difficult at the best of times for a new mum to breastfeed in public. However, the problem is exacerbated among lower-income workers, according to US-based Corporate Voices for Working Families.
It has therefore launched an initiative to help solve the problem – a need for breastfeeding support in the workplace.
In partnership with Abbott Nutrition, Working Mother Media and a select group of companies, this new programme aims to give employers the information and tools they need to reach hourly and lower-wage workers and help establish workplace lactation programs.
In a July 2008 survey of the Working Mother Magazine 100 Best Companies, more than one-third of employers said there are real barriers to implementing programmes for hourly and lower-wage employees. These barriers include scheduling conflicts, lack of dedicated lactation rooms, and limited promotion of lactation benefits to hourly employees.
“It’s clear that workplace lactation programs benefit employers. When women breastfeed, babies and mothers may be healthier, they may miss less work-time and employee satisfaction and productivity can increase,” Donna Klein, President and Founder of Corporate Voices for Working Families, said. “Opening the door to extend workplace lactation programs to all employees is a challenge that can be overcome and this new program offers tools to help.”
A key component of the initiative – Workplace Lactation Programs: Good for Working Families. Good for Business – is a workplace lactation toolkit that provides instructions, tips and template materials. Important elements of the program include recommendations for employers on how to support employees with breastfed babies, guides for working mothers who breastfeed, and sample promotional materials to alert employees to the resources provided by the program.
“Breastfeeding is the gold standard for infant nutrition but for many lower wage moms returning to work is a barrier to extended breastfeeding,” said Dr. Larry Williams, senior medical director, Abbott Nutrition. “As a leader in infant nutrition, Abbott’s goal is to ensure optimal nutrition for infants, whether mothers choose breastfeeding, infant formula or a combination of both. Abbott has a long history of supporting health professionals and parents with breastfeeding education materials and programs and we’re pleased to support this first-of-its kind program as a solution to an issue many working mothers face.”