Pumping in the Workplace: Is Breastfeeding Good for Business?

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Are you wondering if health care legislation that includes provisions for breastfeeding is a good idea?  How do you feel about requiring businesses to accommodate mothers who want to pump at work? Consider the following:

Every year, more than 3 million mothers in America breastfeed. These provisions are good public policy for not only the baby and the mother, but also for the business community and our overall economy. Breastfeeding can improve more than 10% of the Healthy People 2020 health goals for the nation.

Promoting and increasing the rate of breastfeeding in the United States can provide upwards of $14 billion per year in cost savings related to just the treatment of several childhood illnesses seen in higher rates in those infants who are not breastfed. Research shows that breastfeeding lowers the baby‘s risk of infections, diarrhea, SIDS, obesity, diabetes, asthma, and childhood leukemia. A 2009 study of nearly 140,000 women found that women who breastfed for at least one year were 10-15% less likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease compared to mothers who never breastfed. Breastfeeding also lowers the mother‘s risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.

Companies providing lactation accommodations reap a 3 to 1 return on investment and can save hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on reduced health claims, lowered employee turnover, decreased absenteeism, and less money spent on recruitment and training of new employees. At the same time, The Business Case for Breastfeeding, a program created in 2008 by the Department of Health and Human Services, showed that employees whose com- panies provide breastfeeding support consistently report improved morale, better satisfaction with their jobs, and higher productivity.

Excerpt from the United States Lactation Consultant e-newsletter.

Written by Renee Beebe, M.Ed., IBCLC. Renee is a lactation consultant in private practice in Seattle, Washington. She is available for home/hospital visits and phone consultations. Renee can be reached at www.second9months.com

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