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Breastfeeding at Work: Let's Make it Work!

Employment is now the norm for women of childbearing age, yet breastfeeding mothers continue to face barriers in the workplace, putting them at particular risk for not meeting their breastfeeding goals. While nearly four out of five U.S. mothers start out breastfeeding, less than half are still breastfeeding at six months postpartum.

The lack of break time and a private place to pump in the workplace remains one of the main causes for the drop-off in breastfeeding rates. Help us tell employers and Congress that breastfeeding and working is not only possible, it's good for business!

The federal "Break Time for Nursing Mothers" law requires employers to provide break time and a private place for hourly wage-earners ("nonexempt" employees) to pump breast milk during the work day, but the law does not cover all employees. The Supporting Working Moms Act (SWMA) would ensure a fair and uniform national policy by extending the existing provision to cover executive, administrative, and professional employees, including elementary and secondary school teachers. As of its introduction to the House, the bill has already recieved bipartisan support.

We know that workplace lactation support is a "win-win", benefiting both employers and employees. Employers that provide lactation support experience an impressive return on investment, including lower health care costs, absenteeism, and turnover rates, and improved morale, job satisfaction, and productivity. The retention rate for employees of companies with lactation support programs is 94%; the national average is 59%.

There's never been a better time to advocate for workplace lactation accommodation! The Supporting Nursing Moms at Work: Employer Solutions resource from the HHS Office on Women’s Health provides businesses with cost-effective tips and solutions for any industry setting. These simple supports are critical for employees' breastfeeding success, and this new tool means that employers have the information and resources they need to implement accommodations that make breastfeeding and working possible.

The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding; the Institute of Medicine report, Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention; and the National Prevention Strategy each call for employers to establish and maintain lactation support programs for their employees.

That's why we need YOUR help building support and gaining co-sponsors for the Supporting Working Moms Act (SWMA) and letting employers know that family-friendly policies are important to employees and consumers.

There are THREE easy ways to take action:

  1. Tell Congress to support ALL breastfeeding and working families with the Supporting Working Moms Act: With our easy action tool, you can e-mail your Representative and Senators with just a few clicks of the mouse! 
  2. Share stories of experiences with employer implementation of the federal "Break Time for Nursing Mothers" law: Submissions become part of a bank of real-life stories that we share with legislators to seek co-sponsorship, and quote in action campaigns, blogs, articles, and conversations with policymakers and the media.
  3. Tweet breastfeeding-friendly employers: Public praise goes a long way toward encouraging employers to maintain and expand workplace breastfeeding support, and peer pressure encourages others to get started! Click on the "Tweet Now!" links in the chart below to send customized Twitter messages to employers in your community. Note: If you don't already have a Twitter account, the links will first walk you through easy account setup steps.

Customized Twitter Message Tool

Directions: Choose a Twitter message below to send in support of a breastfeeding-friendly employer. After searching for the employer's Twitter handle, click the "Tweet Now!" link to the right of the message you wish to send. After it opens in a new window, paste the company's Twitter handle in place of "TwitterHandle". Make sure to keep the ".@" symbols in front of the handle (no spaces between the symbols and handle)!

Customizable Twitter message
Message 1
(employer provides both paid leave & breastfeeding support)
.@[TwitterHandle] #PaidLeave & #breastfeeding support make a world of difference for employees! TY for supporting #WorkingFamilies Tweet now!

Message 2
(employer provides paid leave only, encourage to add breastfeeding support)

.@[TwitterHandle] TY for supporting #WorkingFamilies by offering #PaidLeave! Next stop: workplace #breastfeeding support! Tweet now!
Message 3
(employer provides breastfeeding support only, encourage to add paid leave)
.@[TwitterHandle] TY for supporting #WorkingFamilies w/ #breastfeeding support for your employees! Next stop: #PaidLeave! Tweet now!