In a blog post published today titled “Breastfeeding Awareness,” Lauren Leonard and Caroline Ogilvy of the Sloan Work & Family Research Network highlight, in honor of World Breastfeeding Week last week, a set of practical resources for working mothers, employers, and policy makers in the hopes of helping working moms so they can continue to breastfeed when they return to work.

They cite that:

“…Only 25 percent of employed women with children under age 1 combine working and breastfeeding for at least a month” (Slavit, 2009).

The reason why the percentage of women who continue breastfeeding at work is so low is because the workplace poses many challenges to breastfeeding.  This is especially true for mothers with hourly positions with inflexible work schedules, lack of proper support from management, and workplaces that don’t have the proper facilities for pumping milk.

Corporate Voices recognizes these challenges, and believes that breastfeeding supports in the workplace are not only good for working families, they are also good for business. Our toolkit, Workplace Lactation Programs: Good for Working Families, Good for Business, provides employers and employees, especially those in hourly positions, with practical, user-friendly guides and tips for implementing a workplace lactation program. It also illustrates the business case for workplace lactation in terms of increased employee retention, engagement, loyalty, lower health care costs, and potential for recruitment.

We are currently developing an updated and expanded version of this toolkit, which will be published online this fall. The updated toolkit will include case studies from businesses, WIC agencies, and community-based health centers showcasing innovative programs that overcome the challenges of nontraditional workplaces and that have been proven to help support breastfeeding mothers at work.

In addition to these success stories, Corporate Voices’ toolkit will provide practical guides and assessment worksheets that employers can use to determine:

  • What kind of lactation program/policy will meet their employees’ needs;
  • The business and health benefits of breastfeeding;
  • How to implement and set up their program;
  • How to effectively communicate their policy/program to employees before they go on leave. Recognizing the diversity among hourly workers in America, our toolkit will also provide breastfeeding tips and techniques in 21 different languages;
  • How to measure success and results from their programs to ensure program sustainability.

Corporate Voices believes that breastfeeding support in the workplace is a critical intervention in the quality and duration of breastfeeding. Programs that support breastfeeding moms at work also support a healthier, more productive, and more competitive workforce.

As the Affordable Care Act has introduced an employer requirement for workplace lactation in the U.S., Corporate Voices will work closely with the Department of Labor and the business community to help broaden awareness of the positive business and health benefits of breastfeeding, and how to implement effective workplace lactation programs.

Please stay tuned!