Solutions for Nursing Moms at Work

June 24, 2014
Cindy Galloway

HHS Launches Solutions for Nursing Moms at Work 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health (OWH), announced the launch of a new national online searchable resource which features business such as Goodwill Industries, Walmart, Walgreens, Whole Foods.  The resource, Supporting Nursing Moms at Work: Employer Solutions, includes photos and stories of 200 businesses in 29 U.S. states, representing 22 industry sectors, including mining and agriculture.

The new resources are designed to assist businesses with implementing Section 4207 of the Affordable Care Act. This section amends Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and requires employers of hourly workers to provide private space that is not a bathroom and reasonable time for employees who are breastfeeding to express their milk while they are at work.

According to Dr. Nancy C. Lee, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health – Women’s Health and Director of the Office on Women’s Health, the project is designed to give employers a wide range of options and solutions. “We know that many employers want to support their employees, not just because it’s required, but because they know it’s the right thing to do,” she says. “Today, more than 75% of all new mothers begin breastfeeding, and many of them do want to continue when they return to work. However, businesses have told us they need solutions, especially in more challenging worksite settings such as restaurants, retail stores, and manufacturing plants. We built this resource to provide practical solutions from their peers – businesses across the country that have found the solutions to make this work.”

According to Cindy Galloway, RD, LD, IBCLC, Idaho’s Central District Health Department has developed services to support nursing women including a breastfeeding policy, providing a hospital grade pump, a lactation room, and breastfeeding support.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nationally, more than three out of every four women breastfeed their baby after it is born. Once they return to work, many women do not continue if they are not provided accommodations to express milk during the work period. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a professional association for 250,000 human resource directors, reports that 34% of employers currently provide designated lactation rooms for nursing women working in their company. Others provide more flexible options such as a manager’s office or a temporary private structure.

According to Cathy Carothers, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant from Every Mother, Inc., one of the project contractors and a national expert in the field of worksite support for breastfeeding, “No matter how challenging your environment, someone has already figured out a solution! It doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, and the possibilities are endless.”

Doris McGuire, Senior Associate at Altarum Institute, which served as an additional project contractor, noted that the new resource gives a snapshot of these creative options. “We’ve seen everything from pop-up tents in agricultural fields, partitions and screens in the corner of warehouses, and even allowing women to bring their baby to work. This really isn’t hard, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot.”

The new online resource launched at the SHRM Conference in Orlando on June 23, 2014.  For more information, go to www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/at-work.

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