Monday, August 3, 2015

Annual breastfeeding awareness week focuses on supporting mothers at work

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month and August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), a time when the world celebrates breastfeeding. This year the World Breastfeeding Week theme, “Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make It Work,” aims to empower all women to successfully balance work and child rearing, an important part of which is breastfeeding.

Women with children are the fastest-growing segment of the work force. More than four of five Colorado women begin breastfeeding, but just more than half of these women continue breastfeeding longer than six months as recommended and only a quarter give their babies only breast milk at 6 months. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recommends mothers exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of their babies' lives and is working to support mothers who breastfeed at work and in the community. 

Employers must provide time, space and support to mothers expressing milk during the work day. In Colorado, a mother’s right to express breast milk at work is protected is through the Workplace Accommodations for Nursing Mothers Act. The Colorado law, which is stronger than federal law, requires Colorado employers of one or more employees to provide a mother with "reasonable unpaid break time" or permission to use paid break time and/or meal time to express breast milk for two years after birth. Employers must not discriminate against a breastfeeding woman and must make “reasonable efforts” to provide a private place, which is not a bathroom, for a mother to express milk. 

According to the Office on Women’s Health, there are many benefits for an employer to support a breastfeeding mother at work. Being family-friendly brings a business a 3:1 Return on Investment (ROI) through lower health care costs, lower employee absenteeism rates, lower turnover rates, and higher employee productivity and loyalty.
Learn what role you can play in supporting breastfeeding mothers at the Breastfeeding Campaign tab at Colorado WIC

For more information, go to World Breastfeeding Week 

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