Breastfeeding

bottle of mother breast milk, breast milk storage and handling concept

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Many women in the workplace are working mothers and supporting them benefits the workplace. Encouraging pumping breastmilk increases productivity in working mothers, lowers their absenteeism, and decreases healthcare costs because breastfed babies are often healthier. Supporting working mothers in their breastfeeding journey can also increase their loyalty and tenure with the organization, thus decreasing turnover (United States Breastfeeding Committee, n.d.). In fact, organizations that support breastfeeding have been found to have an average retention rate of 94% (Sloan and Family Research Network, 2010). Working mothers having the support of their employer and coworkers can help them continue to breastfeed while still being employed (Zhuang, Bresnahan, Yan, Zhu, Goldbort, & Bogdan-Lovis, 2018). The workplaces that receive the most benefits tend to also have policies that include a reasonable length of maternity leave, accommodating facilities for pumping breast milk, and supportive supervisors and staff. MSU, specifically, has many rooms across campus available for working mothers to pump breastmilk. Their locations can be found on this map. Other guidelines on MSU’s support of breastfeeding can be found at: https://worklife.msu.edu/msu-breastfeeding-guidelines

Creating a support system and subsequent policies can encourage working mothers to continue breastfeeding if that is how they have chosen to feed their child. MSU’s guidelines encourage employees to continue breastfeeding and direct them to discuss the time they need for breastfeeding with their supervisor and develop a personal plan that works for their situation. MSU also expects supervisors to provide a supportive environment and an appropriate private space and time for mothers that choose to nurse or pump their breastmilk during the workday.

At a Glance

How each parent chooses to feed their child is a personal decision. Breastfeeding may not be the right path for everyone. These tips are simply to help mothers who are breastfeeding continue to do so, and to work toward a more supportive work environment.

Benefits of breastfeeding:

  • Better attachment between mother and child 
  • Health benefits for the child 
  • Increased loyalty to the organization from the employee and longer tenure due to the employer’s support for her breastfeeding 
  • Lower employee absenteeism and health care costs 

MSU In Action

The WorkLife Office offers a Breastfeeding Educational Series, free for faculty, staff, postdocs, and students twice a year. The series is a 4-week course offered to educate on breastfeeding and encourage employees to continue breastfeeding after returning to work. See the WorkLife Office’s calendar for dates of the course. Additionally, the WorkLife Office has a Family listserv for MSU employees who cover a variety of parenting issues. The WorkLife Office also provides information on parenting concerns, referrals for counseling and individual support, and discussions of flexible schedules.

MSU Guidelines encourage

  • Employees to continue breastfeeding
  • Employees to discuss the time employees need for breastfeeding with their supervisor
  • Employees to develop a plan that works for that specific employee’s situation
  • Supervisors to provide a supportive environment
  • Supervisors to provide an appropriate private space and time for mothers that choose to nurse or pump their breastmilk during the workday

Resources on Campus

  • MSU Breastfeeding Guidelines
  • Breastfeeding Room Locations
    • View this map  for the locations of breastfeeding rooms on campus
  • WorkLife Office
    • Family listserv
      • Allows those participating to connect, discuss parenting topics, and ask questions
      • Visit https://worklife.msu.edu/listserv for information on how to sign up for the listserv
    • Breastfeeding Educational Series
      • A four-week course offered to educate on breastfeeding and encourage employees to continue breastfeeding after returning to work
      • Offered for breastfeeding parents or supervisors that want to support breastfeeding parents on campus typically in March and September
      • See the Work-Life Office’s calendar https://worklife.msu.edu/calendar for dates
    • The WorkLife Office also provides information on parenting issues, referrals for counseling and individual support, and discussions of flexible schedules

References

Sloan Work and Family Research Network. (2010, July). Questions and answers about breastfeeding in the workplace: A Sloan Work and Family Research Network fact sheet. https://wfrn.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Factsheet_Breastfeeding.pdf 

United States Breastfeeding Committee. (n.d.). What are the benefits to employers? http://www.usbreastfeeding.org/p/cm/ld/fid=234 

Zhuang, J., Bresnahan, M. J., Yan, X., Goldbort, J., & Bogdan Lovis, E. (2019). Keep doing the good work: Impact of coworker and community support on continuation of breastfeeding. Health Communication, 34(11), 1270-1278. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2018.1476802

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