Dear employers, supporting breastfeeding mothers is good for business

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Supporting and normalising breastfeeding is not only good for the health of mothers and babies, but is also great for business.

Normalising breastfeeding at work is good for everyone, according to a new report published by the World Breastfeeding Trends. The report says that giving new mothers the facilities to express milk at the office allows them to return to work earlier, thus benefitting their respective companies.

The Guardian reports that adopting breastfeeding-friendly policies can help business. According to research, thousands of women in the UK who return to part-time roles after a career break found it difficult to work longer hours even if they wanted to, simply because their workplace lacked the flexibility that would allow them to combine work with family.

Lactating mothers need to breastfeed or pump their breast milk regularly or her milk supply will suffer, causing her to be unable to continue feeding. Without adequate support systems in place, it’s no wonder that the UK has the world’s lowest breastfeeding rate (only 0.5% of women in the UK breastfeed their children until they are a year old).

Studies have shown that women are more likely to stay in their jobs if they get proper breastfeeding support

breastfeeding in the workplace

Photo: Shutterstock

This lack of breastfeeding support in the workplace is not limited to the UK. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), almost 25% of all countries do not provide breastfeeding breaks in the office, Especially in Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

The ILO defines a breastfeeding-friendly workplace as one that provides their employees with:

  • comfortable, private facilities to express breast milk
  • access to a fridge to store their milk
  • a clean and safe environment
  • daycare facilities and family-friendly working time arrangements for both women and men

This would only involve limited cost on the part of the employers, in terms of the employee’s time and the cost of the infrastructure needed. And the benefits are well-documented: studies have shown that women are more likely to stay in their jobs if they get proper breastfeeding support.

On the next page: how to talk to your employer about breastfeeding in the workplace.

Work-Life Issues