More support needed at work for breastfeeding
A new poll out suggests what we've known for a long time is true: if you want to increase breastfeeding rates you have to target the things that cause women to either not breastfeed, or to stop early. One of the main reasons women stop earlier than they might like is because they have to go back to work, and a majority of workplaces don't provide a private, clean, close place to pump.
The new poll by the W.K. Kellog Foundation surveyed 1300 people. Some of the key findings:
- 66% said it would be helpful if workplaces supported breastfeeding by giving moms time and space to pump and store breast milk.
- 71% said it would be "very helpful" to have clean, private spaces in malls, restaurants and other public places so that women could pump on the go.
- 65% said it would also help to have education about breastfeeding so that everyone is more knowledgeable about the benefits of breastfeeding. Specifically it would help coworkers and the general public to be more accepting of the practice--especially when a mom does it in public.
The poll highlights several barriers to breastfeeding at work including pressure from coworkers and supervisors not to take breaks to pump, or not providing enough time on those breaks to pump.
Health policy leaders need to join together with the business community to foster the kind of environment that supports pumping. It will surely make women feel less intimidated. If a new mom feels she's supported a work, that's likely to translate into higher productivity. It's a win/win for everyone involved.