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Genevieve Colvin's picture

In June, the Breastfeeding Task Force of Greater Los Angeles sponsored a unique training event entitled, “The Business Case for Breastfeeding”.  The focus was on understanding, applying, and learning Best Practices in lactation accommodation policies and programs.  Lactation Accommodations is not just the right thing to do - it's the law and it's good business.

Women with children under the age of three are the fastest growing segment of the workforce. Employment is one of the leading causes of early termination of lactation.   Mothers returning to work or school need lactation support and accommodation.

National and international health organizations recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continued breastfeeding for as long thereafter as mutually desired. Yet, only 17% of mothers are still breastfeeding at 6 months post-partum.  When employee lactation policies are in place and are effective, breastfeeding rates rise.

Most people are aware of the benefits of breastfeeding, but are ignorant of the significant risks associated with not breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months.   Chronic Disease, especially obesity is the singular cause of recent healthcare cost increases.  Breastfeeding is an early, short-term chronic disease prevention measure, with long term return on investment.  Employers who implement lactation policies and programs have higher retention rates, lower absenteeism and health care costs.

Breastfeeding saves money and lives, but many women lack the support they need to continue to breastfeed to health policy recommendations.

Changing laws are increasing adoption of lactation accommodation policies throughout the state and nation. California’s Labor Code §1030-1031 requires ALL employers to provide time and space for lactation accommodations. Also in California we have important case law, DFEH v. Acostas Tacos, which states, “breastfeeding is an activity that is intrinsic to the female sex.”

In 2010, through the Affordable Care Act, Federal Lactation Accommodation became the law of the land. National Leadership continues to underscore the importance of supporting breastfeeding, including the US Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin’s “Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding” and First Lady, Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move Campaign”.

While women in California have the right to pump breast milk in the workplace, without formal policies, many women give up, because they are afraid to ask for accommodations. A 2010 study conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that only 28% of private employers had dedicated lactation space and only 4% had lactation support services. A 2007 study, also conducted by SHRM found that only 11% of Government agencies had implemented Lactation Accommodation programs.

Lactation accommodation is the law and the best way to comply with the law and gain the multitude of benefits from higher rates of breastfeeding is through a lactation accommodation policy.

For help on implementing lactation accommodation policies:


Cross-posted with permission from the California Work & Family Coalition

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