Employers need to do more to help breastfeeding moms

accreditation
A special room at work makes life a lot easier for breastfeeding mothers.
A special room at work makes life a lot easier for breastfeeding mothers.

Protections may be in place for employees who breastfeed, but the onus is on working moms to seek out the resources they need, according to a University of Georgia survey.

"We know that there are benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and the infant, and we know that returning to work is a significant challenge for breastfeeding continuation," said lead author Rachel McCardel, a doctoral student in UGA's College of Public Health.

"There is a collective experience that we wanted to explore and learn how we can make this better," McCardel said in a university news release.

Federal regulations enacted more than 10 years ago require employers to provide unpaid break time and a space other than a restroom for employees to breastfeed or pump milk.

A private space at work

McCardel and co-author Heather Padilla interviewed 52 female employees from a variety of positions. They asked the women about their experiences combining breastfeeding and work, as well as their access to private rooms, breast pumps and lactation consultants.

Nearly 79% of respondents said they had a private space at work to express milk. About two-thirds had break time to breastfeed. But lactation consultants and breast pumps were less common.

A little effort by employers could correct that, said Padilla, an assistant professor of health promotion and behaviour at the university.

"Designate a person who is responsible for making sure that women who are preparing for the birth of their baby understand what resources they have available to them when they return to work," she suggested. This could be a supervisor, human resources director of a mentor.

A crucial part of work-life balance

Employers need to make it easier for women to work and raise young children. "It shouldn't be a choice of one or the other," Padilla said.

McCardel agreed.

"According to the most recent Workplace Health in America Survey, we're now seeing about 46% of worksites are offering some sort of health promotion programming, but only 8% offer lactation resources," she said, calling that "a crucial part of work-life balance, especially for new mothers."

The study was published recently in the journal Workplace Health & Safety.

Image credit: iStock

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
A Section 89 panel headed by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo found President Cyril Ramaphosa has an impeachable case to answer on the Phala Phala scandal.
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Ramaphosa should do the honourable thing and immediately resign.
25% - 870 votes
Ramaphosa should follow due process and submit himself to an impeachment hearing.
30% - 1072 votes
Ramaphosa should fight the findings in court and keep his job at all costs
45% - 1601 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.56
-0.0%
Rand - Pound
21.59
-0.3%
Rand - Euro
18.50
-0.3%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.92
-0.2%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.2%
Gold
1,797.91
0.0%
Silver
23.15
0.0%
Palladium
1,900.00
0.0%
Platinum
1,020.00
0.0%
Brent Crude
85.57
-1.5%
Top 40
68,238
-0.9%
All Share
74,323
-0.9%
Resource 10
74,020
-2.7%
Industrial 25
91,592
-0.6%
Financial 15
15,398
+0.8%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE