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Many companies have implemented corporate breastfeeding programs because both the company and the employees benefit. It is also an attractive work life balance benefit to retain employees. The return in cost savings and employee productivity is worth the investment. You may be thinking of implementing or expanding upon and existing breastfeeding program at your company. But other than providing a simple room for a mother to pump milk, there are also many other features that are part of a comprehensive corporate breastfeeding program. Most of these components greatly enhance the breastfeeding program and are easy to implement. There are four components that greatly improve a company’s return on investment in a lactation program.
Mothers need a place to pump milk that is not the bathroom. A woman could use her private office for pumping milk. But more often there is a need to have a separate room for moms to pump milk. Companies starting a lactation program can begin with a basic room that covers the most basic needs. It should lock from the inside and have an electrical outlet for the breastpump, plus table and comfortable chair. If possible, choose or design a room with a sink so moms can clean their breastpump kits.
Once your company has this room, it is easy to add some simple touches to make it more friendly and convenient for your employees for not much cost. Adding a small refrigerator with a freezer gives moms a place to store their milk during the day. This is very helpful because without it, moms would need to bring in coolers with ice packs to keep their milk fresh. Adding a few cubbies gives moms a place to store their breastpump during the day. And keeping a box of sanitizing wipes helps mom keep the room clean. You can also make the room more pleasant by adding decorative touches such as pictures, flowers, art, or a small mirror. As you develop your room, you can add even more features that employees really appreciate and boosts productivity such as hospital-grade breastpumps to help employees be more efficient pumping milk. Or provide snacks and extra pumping kits. Put together, all these features make up a great mother’s room.
During a typical workday, mothers usually need to pump every 3 hours. This mean 2 to 4 times a day, depending on the mother’s schedule. A pumping session is about 20 minutes long. Giving mothers flexible breaks and allowing her to plan her pumping sessions during her workday greatly reduces stress. Have the manager work with the employee to figure out a schedule, this could mean adjusting her workday hours, moving a meeting, or allowing her to dial into meetings. Finding the time to pump is often cited as one of the more difficult barriers to breastfeeding. By working with the employee to plan the breaks, you have helped increase the chances that a mother will continue to breastfeed, reduced her stress, and made her a more productive employee.
A good corporate lactation program provides the employees with information through the company about going back to work while breastfeeding. This information should be given during pregnancy and after so moms know what to expect and what they need to do when they return to work. It should also be given to expectant fathers so they know their company’s plans and benefits. Some companies provide back-to-work seminars to explain the benefits that the company gives. They may also cover breastfeeding or back-to-work classes, or CPR classes. Companies that provide lactation information and support to new parents have lower absentee rates for both mothers and fathers. And because their babies are getting the benefits of breastmilk, they also have lower health insurance claims.
The success of a lactation program is also dependent on the support that the company gives. To keep mothers at work pumping, a company needs to have a positive and accepting environment for breastfeeding. Managers, supervisors, and co-workers all need to support mothers who need to pump milk for their babies. When the company shows that it encourages mothers to breastfeed and show its support through its program, it creates a positive and family-friendly atmosphere.
It is never too late to get started on a lactation program for your company, or improve what has already been implemented. Your company will benefit by having a comprehensive corporate program that is cost effective and improves employee morale and retention rates. Healthy Horizons provides full-service corporate lactation programs across the country. Contact us to find how you can start or build upon your company’s lactation program!
“Business Case for Breastfeeding.” Womenshealth.gov, 3 May 2017, www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-home-work-and-public/breastfeeding-and-going-back-work/business-case. Accessed 6 June 2017.