Whether you are an employer looking to boost work culture, or a lactating parent hoping for more employer support, this is your go-to resource for ways to encourage and implement a lactation-friendly work environment.
Breastfeeding has lifelong benefits for mom and baby. It also has tremendous benefits for employers and the economy. Here are a few numbers that help put this into perspective.
- 94.2% employee retention rate for employers with lactation support programs (compared to the national average of 59%)1
- 77% reduction in workplace absenteeism when lactation support programs are in place2
- $13 billion annual savings for the healthcare system and taxpayers when 90% of families exclusively breastfeed for six months3
Despite these numbers:
- 66% lactating parents have experienced issues while pumping at work4
- 53% have had hours or workload reduced without being asked4
- 43% of women leave the workforce within three months of childbirth4
All is not hopeless. More employers are looking for ways to support breastfeeding and pumping employees. More parents are asking for the right to feed their babies. More organizations are advocating for work cultures that support lactating employees, parents, and babies.
If you are an employer looking to create a lactation-friendly workplace, here are some steps you can take.
- Set up a lactation room. The “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law requires employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to provide a private space other than a bathroom to pump in. Go one step further and make this space comfortable with access to supplies needed to pump safely and efficiently such as a sink, refrigerator, and comfortable place to sit.
- Implement a lactation support program. This could be done a few ways. Multi-user breast pumps can be provided in lactation rooms to minimize supplies pumping parents need to bring. Essential breastfeeding supplies such as breastmilk storage bags, micro steam bags, cleaning wipes, and nursing pads can be kept on hand for employees. Keep a steady supply of snacks (lactation boosting and healthy options) available for pumping parents. Acelleron’s Pump@Work program has a variety of ways to help you support lactating parents.
- Make breastfeeding more accessible with policies. By offering paid maternity leave and having flexible work schedules or work-from-home policies, pumping can be more attainable, and parents can reach and exceed their breastfeeding goals.
- Get everyone on board. Creating a culture means getting everyone in the same mindset. Have new parent support groups, offer a return-to-work check in system to prepare parents and managers before leave and upon returning, and ensure that all employees are supporting parents as they return to work.
A little preparation before going on maternity leave and some resource sharing can help pave the way for a successful return to work and pumping journey.
- Prepare before you go on leave. Talk to your boss or HR department about your plans to pump at work. Get an idea of what a pumping schedule might look like, what type of flexibility or workplace policies are available to support you, and where you will be pumping at work.
- Provide resources. Many employers want to support lactating employees but don’t know where to start. Share this resource page from the CDC and the Office on Women’s Health with your employer to help them understand how they can implement meaningful changes.
- Refer them to a lactation support program. Make it easy for your employer to support you by referring them to a program like Pump@Work so they can help provide the essential pumping supplies you’ll need throughout your journey.
Collectively, employers and employees can develop a plan that will prove beneficial to everyone: baby, parents, families, and employers.
For a little more help, check out these Top Tips for Pumping at Work that can make your pumping experience as smooth as possible.
- United States Breastfeeding Committee Workplace Accommodations to Support and Protect Breastfeeding, Washington, DC (2010).
- Bartick M, Reinhold A. The burden of suboptimal breastfeeding in the United States: a pediatric cost analysis. Pediatrics. 2010; 125(5):e1048-e2015.
- Ortiz, J, McGilligan K. & Kelly P. (2004).
- Carter, Christine Michel. Breastfeeding At Work Benefits Mom, Baby And The Employer. Forbes. (2019)