Breastfeeding Benefits Employers
In 2010, 77.4% of moms were working moms ranking Nebraska as 5th in the nation for the number of moms returning to work. Mothers who breastfeed miss less work to care for sick infants than mothers who feed their infants formula. Mothers who breastfeed have a lower incidence of breast and ovarian cancer, cardiovascular diseases and type II diabetes. For employers that means higher productivity, lower health care costs, decreased absenteeism, higher loyalty, lower turnover rates, better job satisfaction, and enhanced overall company image and recruiting benefits. (Source: US Dept of Health and Human Services, Women's Health)
Facts - the Numbers
The business case for breastfeeding cost effectiveness:
- Breastfeeding friendly workplaces have been shown to decrease employee absenteeism by up to 57% due to the health benefits for both mother and baby, while enhancing employee productivity, loyalty, and morale.
- Companies save $3 for every dollar they spend supporting breastfeeding in the workplace.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that a minimum of $3.6 billion in medical expenses annually would be saved if the number of children breastfed for six months were to increase by 50 percent.
Investing in a Healthier Future Workforce
Breastfeeding the recommended duration has lifelong health benefits for children, like lower rates of chronic obesity related diseases, a costly health insurance issue for employers. Supporting and accommodating nursing moms in the workplace, means investing in a healthier future workforce. That translates to lower health care costs and decreased absenteeism.
What Experts Recommend
In 2011, the US Surgeon General issued a national Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. This report recommends widespread community efforts to create a supportive environment for new mothers in order to increase breastfeeding rates and improve the health of the nation. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians were joined in February 2016 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in recommending babies be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months, with continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced through the infant’s first year of life or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant.
Challenges in the Workplace
Given the strong medical evidence about the benefits of breastfeeding to the long-term health of children and mothers, most moms say they intend to breastfeed. But while over 90% of Lincoln moms intend to breastfeed, under 11% continue to the 1 year recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. One of the roadblocks often cited by mothers is lack of support and accommodation in the workplace.
Creating a Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite Environment:
Know the Law
Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act LB 627 (FEPA)
Effective August 30, 2015, Nebraska companies with 15 or more salaried or hourly employees must comply to making reasonable accommodations for break time and appropriate facilities for breastfeeding or expressing breast milk.
Under the Nebraska FEPA, breastfeeding moms are now a protected class similar to race and disability. Employers cannot discriminate on the basis of color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, marital status, and now an individual who’s pregnant, given birth or has a related medical condition (breastfeeding).
Discrimination includes not making “reasonable accommodations” for breastfeeding employees including time off to recover from childbirth or break time and appropriate facilities for breastfeeding or expressing milk.
Nebraska State Statute - Allow Breastfeeding as Prescribed LB 197
Nebraska was one of the last remaining states to pass a law in 2011 that gives women the legal right to breastfeed her child in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) 2010
The FLSA is a federal law applying to any company of 50 or more employees with regards to lactation support. Under this law, an employer shall provide:
- a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk
- a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk. An employer shall not be required to compensate an employee for pumping breaks unless they are already providing compensated breaks.
Creating a Breastfeeding Support Policy
For step by step help in developing and implementing worksite breastfeeding support policies download Nebraska’s Guide to Lactation Support at the Worksite.
Providing Resources to
Providing an information packet to expectant parents on your breastfeeding worksite policies and accommodations lets your employees plan and adjust, helping them to be more productive when returning to work. Providing breastfeeding information and resources within your packet lets your employees know you support their decision, which helps to lift employee morale and increases company loyalty.
"Really? Really!" breastfeeding educational materials - free materials to download and print
Creating a Baby-Friendly Workplace
The Nebraska Breastfeeding Coalition recognizes employers with baby friendly workplaces.
Criteria and how to apply
Community Resource Directory
MilkWorks - MilkWorks is a non-profit, community breastfeeding center with offices in Lincoln, and Omaha, Nebraska. Under the medical direction of Kathy Leeper, MD, the center provides a wide range of education, support and clinical services to help mothers breastfeed their babies. No mother is denied services based upon ability to pay. One of our coalition of community health partners, MilkWorks is also a founding member of the Lincoln Community Breastfeeding Initiative.
Lincoln Community Breastfeeding Initiative (LCBI) - LCBI is collaborative partnership of health care providers, Lincoln hospitals, and community organizations focused on improving breastfeeding rates by creating consistent, accurate breastfeeding messages for new mothers across the spectrum of health care.
Community Breastfeeding Educators - Through a joint collaboration with MilkWorks and the Asian Community and Cultural Center, culturally diverse mothers, trained as Community Breastfeeding Educators (CBEs), are available to provide peer to peer breastfeeding to mothers in their homes and communities in eight different languages, including Spanish, Arabic, Nuba, Burmese, Karenni, Vietnamese, Chinese and English. Click this link for a video playlist with breastfeeding information in a choice of different languages. For more contact information: Download a CBE brochure.
LLCHD - WIC - Another of our community health partners, the Women, Infant, and Children program (WIC), part of the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department, provides nutrition and health services, and breastfeeding information and support for low to moderate income families.
Family Services – WIC - Family Services Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program provides free food, nutrition information, and breastfeeding support to help keep pregnant women, infants and children under five healthy and strong.
Nebraska Breastfeeding Coalition - The Nebraska Breastfeeding Coalition (NBC) is a network of individual members and organizational partners (including Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln) dedicated to improving the health of Nebraskans by making breastfeeding the norm through education, advocacy and collaboration. The coalition works together to share information and partner in activities to increase breastfeeding rates across the state.