During the month of August, efforts are concentrated to promote and support breastfeeding as optimal nutrition for infants and young children, as well as the maternal and societal benefits it affords. In order to encourage new parents to achieve the goals set for the U.S. in the Healthy People 2020 Initiative, the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee has declared this month as National Breastfeeding Month, and the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) celebrates the first week of August as World Breastfeeding Week.
Research shows that infants who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, and continue to breastfeed after the introduction of solid foods reap the full benefits of breastfeeding and avoid the risks associated with artificial feeding. We know that the advantages that breast milk and breastfeeding provides are maximized the longer and more frequently a mother nurses her baby.
Although the benefits are greater with exclusive and extended breastfeeding, reaching a goal of a full year or more of breastfeeding presents many obstacles for the breastfeeding family. One of the major challenges is the return to work for a new mother. The focus for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week from WABA is the Mother-Friendly Workplace Initiative, which stresses the importance of support for the breastfeeding mother in the workplace. There have been improvements recently in improving national laws and practices for accommodating new mothers; however, more efforts are needed around the country to assure that mothers in the workplace are able to reach their breastfeeding goals.
Ask your employer….
* Is paid maternity leave provided to employees?
* Is it easy to obtain an effective breast pump through insurance? Is lactation consultation covered under the insurance plan?
* Is there an option of a child care center close by for employees so that a mother can nurse her baby while making a quick visit there during the workday?
* Are there Mother’s Rooms available at your place of work to express milk in a clean private place?
Having a healthy baby is something every parent wishes for, and for employers, it means higher employee productivity with less absenteeism since employees are not missing work to take care of a sick infant.
Celebrate August – National Breastfeeding Month!