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How to Help Your Employees During the Infant Formula Shortage

You can help your employees during the baby formula shortage. 

Did you know you serve a major role in many new parent decisions on whether or not to chest/breastfeed, and for how long?


For some parents, formula feeding is a choice or is necessary when parents are not physically able to chest/breastfeed, or as necessary supplementation when Baby is struggling to gain weight and nurse successfully. Others turn to formula when they feel like they don’t have employer support to pump at work, access to a safe and comfortable location to pump, or education/resources on successfully pumping for their baby’s primary nutrition.

 

Because of this, we’ve put together important guidance on lactation room support to make your workspace a possible solution for new parents, as well as a full list of resources and education for your new parent employees to get through the formula shortage here.

Did you know?

A new breast/chestfeeding parent must feed or pump at least 8 or more times in 24 hours for the first several months of their infant's life to establish a good milk supply. As the baby gets older, expressing every 3 hours or so during a typical workday if separated from the baby. If there is not a convenient, safe, clean, and comfortable place to do so at work, many new parents decide not to chest/breastfeed, or do not return to work at all. 


The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively chest/breastfeeding for the first six months and continuing for up to a year or longer. Human milk is the perfect food for Baby - easy to digest, allergen friendly (the lactating parent can control exposure based on removing items from their own diet), and tailored specifically to Baby's exact nutritional and developmental needs. It has been well documented that nursing also contributes to lower incidences of illness, which means your employees can focus on their work, instead of taking time off to care for their sick infant. 

Many people don’t know that it may be possible to increase milk supply or bring milk supply back.

This is called relactating. It involves frequent breast stimulation with a hospital grade pump and possibly bringing Baby back to the chest/breast.

 

Professional hospital grade pumps can be rented by individual parents here and companies can get more information and quotes here. Offer new parents the opportunity to seek guidance from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) to create a plan.

What can you do as a company?

Ensure you have ready to use, clean, and welcoming lactation rooms, even if you assume there is little traffic or use of the space. A part of a parent’s decision to pump for their baby directly comes from the expectation to have a lactation room that is well stocked, cleaned, and ready to use. Companies never know when a new parent will need to use the room, especially in a pandemic or hybrid work situation. Furthermore, some new parents may not want it publicly known that they need to use the space or may not be comfortable actively seeking solutions for pumping at work.


There are very real consequences for reopening businesses without complying with federal, state, and local lactation laws as well as sanitary standards for lactation rooms.

 

Especially post-pandemic, employers must protect nursing parents by cleaning and disinfecting mother’s rooms and the equipment in them should be maintained according to CDC and OSHA guidelines, using EPA-approved products. Healthy Horizons Lactation Room Servicing™ will help you comply with this.

What should a lactation room have in it?

The room must have a chair, preferably made of leather, vinyl or other wipeable material, a surface for the pump, a second surface for personal items, and an electrical outlet. 

 

A sink with hot water, good lighting, hospital-grade breast pump and refrigerated milk storage are also important to create a usable space for pumping.

 

HEPA filters can help filter out COVID-19 particles in the Lactation Room. We also recommend stocking the lactation rooms with extra cleaning supplies such as gloves and an approved disinfectant such as CaviCide. 

 

Pumping essentials will help new parents experience more ease and choice in the hybrid or full time at-work space environments, including: storage bags, steam sanitizing bags, bra pads, Elvie pumps & accessories, and other lactation care items.

 

Other wellness offerings in-rooms may be these delicious lactation snacks & teas that help stimulate milk supply in parents with low yield, or those attempting to relactate. 


Well intentioned employers may not realize the solutions they offer do not fully support their employees. What may seem like a practical solution may be an inconvenience for a chest or breastfeeding parent. Be aware of the more common chest/breastfeeding concerns lactating parents have in order to make your program a success. Healthy Horizons is the expert in this space, so you don’t have to be!

What are the space requirements for lactation rooms?

A lactation room is NOT a bathroom. Lactation rooms must be private, safe, clean and comfortable. Lactation rooms should be in close proximity to the employees' workspace. Remember, employees will need to get to the room, pump, wash and store personal items, and then get back to meetings and work commitments quickly. 

 

One of the most frequent issues we see in lactation rooms is lack of adequate privacy. The lactation room must be a private and safe space. The room should be appropriate; no security cameras, no clear or see-through walls, the door should lock from the inside, and it must have proper signage. 

 

New parents should not feel stressed about needing to pump milk for their children at work; stress can affect their milk production and consequently lead to more sick days. As an employer, you do not want to be on the receiving end of being the reason a new parent could not produce milk for their baby. Sometimes privacy isn’t taken into account and this is one of the reasons why lawsuits are initiated.

 

On the federal level there is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) which amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to include the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law. 

 

This law covers non-exempt employees covered by FLSA. More extensive lactation room protections for working mothers are provided in 32 states that have their own breastfeeding laws. State laws are in addition to the federal laws. Find each state’s specific workplace chest/breastfeeding laws here.  

 

Employers are typically not required to compensate for pumping breaks in most states, although if the employer already provides paid breaks and the employee uses them for pumping, the employee should be paid as usual. 

Does your workplace have a designated safe and comfortable place to pump if new parents wish to do so during this shortage?

Healthy Horizons provides world class corporate lactation rooms for Fortune 100 companies and many other workplaces across North America. Contact us for an expert lactation room assessment, room design and installation, lactation equipment, furnishings and services. 

 

If you have more questions, or would like to offer resources to your employees during this crisis, please visit the lactation consultations portion of our website on HealthyHorizons.com. Our consultations take place under the care of trained healthcare professionals who are International Board Certified Lactation Consultants® (IBCLC®). Professionals specializing in the clinical management of breastfeeding, our lactation consultants are experts in the fields of human lactation and breastfeeding counseling.

 

Giving chest and breastfeeding parents workplace lactation support benefits the company and leads to happier and more dedicated employees. In fact, our clients have reported a return on investment of $5 for every $1 spent on a comprehensive lactation program.

 

Many new parents reconsider returning to work or chest/breastfeeding due to the stress, and demand of taking care and feeding their baby. However, if an employer provides a lactation room, lactation program, and supportive work environment new parents are more likely to return to the workplace, require fewer sick days and time off, and have nutritionally sound and safe feeding options during this shortage. 

 

Contact Healthy Horizons Corporate Lactation Services today to ensure your company has effective family-friendly lactation policies and a proven service for maintaining your Lactation Rooms.

 

Healthy Horizons is here to help. Together we will get through this current crisis, and whatever else may come in the future. 


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