Supporting breastfeeding as an employer
Returning to work after maternity leave can be a challenge for many mothers. A major issue is their ability to either breastfeed or express breast milk at work. Supporting breastfeeding mothers is a simple initiative that actively promotes work/life balance and workplace productivity.
The benefits of accommodating breastfeeding in your workplace include:
- a quicker return to work by employees after maternity leave
- improved retention of employees
- reduced sick leave and absenteeism due to the health benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and infant
- enhanced employee morale and commitment.
An open discussion between you and your employee (ideally before she goes on maternity leave) is important to address any fears she may have about returning to work.
What is involved in becoming a supportive workplace?
Your workplace can help make the transition back to work easier, and support mothers to continue breastfeeding by:
- providing a comfortable, private and clean space for breastfeeding and expressing breastmilk
- ensuring refrigeration facilities are available nearby, so expressed breastmilk can be stored safely for later use
- being flexible where possible – women may need to take breaks during the day to breastfeed or express breastmilk; flexible start and finish times can make it easier for mothers to incorporate expressing into their day
- ensuring an employee isn't discriminated against if she continues to breastfeed upon return to work.
For additional information on creating a breastfeeding friendly workplace, visit the Australian Breastfeeding Association's Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace website
Examples of Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace Policies and Practices
In Tasmania, several workplaces have become accredited as breastfeeding friendly.
Interstate, NSW and QLD have taken a positive lead, developing state-wide government breastfeeding policies and recommendations for paid lactation breaks.
Mothers returning to work before 6 months breastfeed 1.9 months less on average than they had intended
Are you a mother needing help?
Click here to visit the Australian Breastfeeding Association website for information and support