Breastfeeding Facts to Help Employers Support New Moms
Wondering why breastfeeding matters? Or what lactation laws require for employers? We can help. Mamava’s resources provide the most current evidence-based information for everything you need to know from workplace laws to lactation space design. When it comes to supporting your breastfeeding employees, we’ve got you covered.
Why do mothers breastfeed?
Breastfeeding moms are following the recommendations to exclusively breastfeed for at least six months (and longer when possible) put forward by The American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.
What are the benefits of breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding benefits both babies and mothers. Research suggests that the positive effects of breast milk may protect children later in life from high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Mothers who breastfeed have been shown to have a lower risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, as well as breast and ovarian cancers.
Why do breastfeeding employees need to pump?
Breastfeeding is a physiological response called the “letdown reflex.” Breast milk is released through the suckling of a nursing baby (or the simulated nursing of a breast pump). Following the law of supply and demand, breastfeeding moms need to pump (or “express” breast milk) every few hours to continue producing milk (and maintain their supply!) when they’re away from their baby. If mothers don’t pump on a consistent schedule, they risk physical discomfort, decreased milk supply (which, over time, may not meet the needs of their baby), and even infection. For many mothers, returning to work can be a barrier to breastfeeding.
Why do they need a dedicated lactation space?
A breastfeeding employee who is pumping at work is making food to take home to her baby. A sanitary space is critical to limit breast milk’s exposure to contaminants (and the reason workplace lactation laws prohibit bathrooms). But breastfeeding mothers also need a secure and private space where they don’t have to worry about being interrupted. Psychological stress—because moms feel rushed or vulnerable—has been shown to negatively impact letdown, slow milk flow, and make pumping more difficult.
Why do pumping employees need multiple breaks?
When breastfeeding mothers are away from their baby, they need to pump milk as often as their baby would nurse. On average, women will need to pump every two to three hours. The number of breaks a pumping employee needs will depend on the number of hours she’s away from her child (a typical work day is eight hours, plus factor in any commute time). It’s critical, however, that mothers pump on a predictable schedule, every few hours, to maintain their milk supply.
How much time does a pumping session take?
Expressing milk can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes, depending on the mother’s milk supply and the age of the baby (infants rely solely on breast milk, whereas older babies often begin supplementing breast milk with other foods around six months of age). The time it takes to pump may also be impacted by the proximity of the lactation space to where a mother works and the time it takes her to access it. Every pumping employee needs adequate time to travel to the lactation space, set up their pump, express milk, and clean their pump parts (which includes flanges, tubing, valves, and milk collection bottles).