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Breastfeeding and Work

Starting in 2010, nursing mothers have new and important rights at work! Section 4207 of the health reform legislation requires employers to provide breastfeeding employees with “reasonable break time” and a private, non-bathroom place to express breast milk during the workday, up until the child’s first birthday [1]. Studies have shown that breastfeeding means healthier moms and babies – and the benefits even lead to businesses themselves, where healthier families means less absenteeism and higher productivity [2, 3].

While 75% of American moms start out breastfeeding, this number drops significantly when the child reaches just three months [4]. This is a far cry from The American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation to breastfeed for the first year of life and the World Health Organization’s recommendation to breastfeed for the first two years of life [5]. Now, however, moms can take advantage of their new rights to pump milk at work, and here are some resources to help you get started:

Learn More About Your Rights

To learn more about what this new law means for nursing mothers, check out the resources listed below:

Health Care Reform Boosts Support for Employed Breastfeeding Mothers, United States Breastfeeding Committee

What the New Breastfeeding Law Means for New Moms, Senator Jeff Merkley

Health Care Reform and Breastfeeding, Saray Hill

Video: Senator Merkley answers questions about new legislation passed in health reform to facilitate breastfeeding in the workplace:

US Department of Labor Fact Sheet

Share Resources with Your Employer

If possible, discuss with your employer your plans to breastfeeding and pump milk at work before your maternity leave begins. Many employers are supportive but lack the information about the new workplace laws and how best to support nursing mothers at work. If your employer has questions or needs help in getting the workplace ready, consider sharing the following links:

5 Things Employers Should Know About Breastfeeding, Katrina Alcorn

Breastfeeding – a Secret Weapon to Save Billions of Dollars, Mary Olivella

Short and long-term benefits of breastfeeding for children, mothers, families, and employers and

If you would like to start a lactation support program at your workplace visit which provides a thorough toolkit from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the implementation of a lactation support program, based on the one started at the CDC. It provides guidelines in assessing the need and interest, planning, implementation, maintenance, and evaluation of lactation support programs.