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The importance of incorporating support for breastfeeding in the workplace is often unknown to most people. Even the term “Corporate Lactation” can make people raise an eye, as if the two words don’t belong to each other. However, as more women enter the workplace and companies want to stay competitive, it becomes more important that businesses understand what this term really means.
Corporate Lactation programs often start with enabling mothers to pump breastmilk at work. The federal law mandates that employers shall provide a reasonable break time for an employee to express breastmilk in a place other than a bathroom until the baby is a year old. For some mothers, it might mean an abandoned or shared office, an area separated by a curtain, or a closet with no power outlets. Some may think that is all that is needed for Corporate Lactation but there is much more to it.
Starting with the mother’s room, a Corporate Lactation program evolves to provide better accommodations for mothers such as a designated mother’s room that locks from the inside with tables, chairs, power outlets, and a small fridge. More comprehensive programs add a sink, a hospital grade breastpump, pumping supplies, snacks, and decorative touches. Better accommodations and support helps mothers give their best work to the company and make them feel appreciated.
Corporate Lactation means supporting mothers beyond the mother’s room. Programs that help educate mothers and their co-workers will go a long way toward supporting and encouraging moms to breastfeed while working. Companies can provide breastfeeding seminars and classes to educate expecting mothers and include lactation consultations and personal breastpumps as part of their benefits. Mothers can support each other through a company group for breastfeeding mothers. Family friendly workplace policies such as job flexibility, telecommuting, and part-time or job sharing also play into support breastfeeding mothers. All these benefits help moms juggle the work-life balance of working and having a family.
It is easy for a company to build upon what they currently provide breastfeeding mothers. Take a look at the mother’s rooms, and see what simple amenities can be added. It doesn’t take much to provide a comfortable space for a pumping mom. A small space that is clean and free of clutter that is comfortable with a table and chair that meets all applicable laws is a good basic start. Add a small fridge for moms to store their milk. Even amenities like water, snacks, or cleaning wipes for moms are inexpensive and easy. All of these little additions make a mother’s room pleasant and lets your employees feel appreciated by their company. You can reach out to Healthy Horizons to for breastfeeding support and classes to add an educational component.
The next time you think of the words Corporate Lactation, realize that it’s more than just providing time and space for mothers to pump milk. These programs support mothers and their families while also supporting the company’s bottom line. They are two words that do fit together very well to enable moms to provide for their babies while giving their best work to the benefit of the company and the employees’ families.