20 Actions in 20 Days: Encouraging work environments for mothers with direct access to breastfeed their babies

20 Actions in 20 Days

Surgeon General Regina Benjamin has called on the entire nation to take 20 concrete action steps from the January 2011 Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding to support the removal of barriers to breastfeeding. The United States Breastfeeding Committee is hosting a “20 Actions in 20 Days” campaign to highlight these action steps and implementation strategies.

Action 15: Expand the use of programs in the workplace that allow lactating mothers to have direct access to their babies.

Upon returning to work from maternity leave, many breastfeeding mothers express, or “pump,” and store their milk to allow others to feed their infants while they are away. While this has proven to be a popular option, this option should only be one in a multifaceted strategy to increase support for breasteeding in the workplace.

According to the Surgeon General’s call to action, direct breastfeeding the infant during the workday is the most effective strategy of combining employment and breastfeeding, as it increases the duration and intensity of the breastfeeding. Strategies for incorpoarting breastfeeding policies for working mothers into the office include:

  • having the mother keep the baby with her while she works
  • allowing the mother to go to the baby to breastfeed during the workday
  • telecommuting
  • offering flex schedules
  • maintaining part-time work schedules
  • using on-site or nearby child care centers

The Business Case for Breastfeeding, a resource kit from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was recently adapted to apply specifically to the conditions of Fortune 500 companies and serves as a model to implement breastfeeding policies into the workplace.

Several Florida businesses have been awarded the Breastfeeding Friendly Employer Award from the Florida Breastfeeding Coalition to recognize businesses who are providing support in the workplace to their breastfeeding employees. Businesses are evaluated on set criteria and recognized with a gold, silver or bronze award.

In Northeast Florida, Baptist Medical Center, Flagler Hospital, Florida Proton Therapy Institute, Shands Jacksonville and Wolfson Children’s Hospital have all received the gold level award thus far, with CITI Family Center receiving silver.

For more information about the Florida Breastfeeding Friendly Employer Award and how to submit an application for your business, visit the Florida Breastfeeding Coalition’s Employer Program page.