Breastfeeding and the Workplace
Companies, as well as their employees, benefit from establishing and supporting breastfeeding programs within the workplace.
With the average maternity leave averaging six weeks, many breastfeeding moth-ers struggle with their decision to continue breastfeeding their infant upon returning to work. "Despite a few exceptions, most US employers give no support to breastfeeding mothers, contributing to the decision of many new moms to quit nursing once back on the job" (Tyson, 1998). Workplace breastfeeding support can ease a new mother's transition back to work. "There are various forms of practical support employers can offer women to help them continue breastfeeding after they return to work" (Personnel Today, 2003).
There are several benefits that the employer can reap by supporting workplace lactation programs. "Workplace lactation programs reduce health care costs and em-ployee absenteeism caused by infant illness because breast-fed infants are healthier, ac-cording to AAP". "Its research has shown that these babies have fewer allergies, respira-tory infections, ear infections, and serious diseases, such as diabetes".
"Breastfeeding also keeps mothers healthier by reducing the risk of ovarian and breast cancers, say the AAP" (Tyler,1999). Studies show there is less illness among breastfed children and therefore lower health insurance costs. A healthier child in turn means less employee absenteeism. It can also be a boost to employee morale. Diane Cushman, a manager at a property-casualty company in St. Paul, Minnesota, states, "It's a great morale builder, even for people who aren't using it". "It's a low-cost, high impact program". "And it's not difficult to implement" (Tyler, 1999).
A lactation program, along with the more common health care, 401k, and pension benefits, can also be a good incentive to attract new employees. Many companies who frequently make the "Top 100" lists provide breastfeeding support programs. "Providing lactation rooms is a good...