Lactation

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

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Many in the workplace are working parents or caregivers and supporting them benefits the workplace. Encouraging pumping breast/chest milk increases productivity in working parents, lowers their absenteeism, and decreases healthcare costs because breast/chest fed babies are often healthier. Supporting working parents in their lactation 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 lactation have been found to have an average retention rate of 94% (Sloan and Family Research Network, 2010, Ortiz et al., 2004). Working parents having the support of their employer and coworkers can help them continue to feed through lactation 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 parental leave, accommodating facilities for pumping breast/chest milk, and supportive supervisors and staff. MSU, specifically, has many rooms across campus available for working parents to pump breast/chest milk. Their locations can be found on this map. Other guidelines on MSU’s support of breastfeeding can be found at: https://worklife.msu.edu/family-care/kids-parents/lactation

Creating a support system and subsequent policies can encourage working parents to continue lactating if that is how they have chosen to feed their child. MSU’s guidelines encourage employees to continue feeding through lactation and direct them to discuss the time they need for lactating 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 parents that choose to lactate or pump their breast/chest milk during the workday.

At a Glance

How each family chooses to feed their child is a personal decision. Lactation may not be the right path for everyone. These tips are simply to help parents who are feeding through lactation continue to do so, and to work toward a more supportive work environment.

Benefits of lactating:

  • Better attachment between parent 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 lactation 
  • Lower employee absenteeism and health care costs 

MSU In Action

The WorkLife Office offers a Lactation Educational Series, free for faculty, staff, postdocs, and students twice a year. The series is a 4-week course offered to educate on lactating and encourage employees to continue feeding through lactation 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 lactating
  • Employees to discuss the time employees need for lactation 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 parents that choose to feed through lactation or pump their breast/chest milk during the workday

Resources on Campus

  • MSU Lactation Guidelines
    • See here for MSU’s lactation guidelines
  • Breastfeeding Room Locations
    • View this map  for the locations of lactation 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
    • Lactation Educational Series
      • A four-week course offered to educate on lactation and encourage employees to continue lactating after returning to work
      • Offered for lactating parents or supervisors that want to support lactating parents on campus typically in the spring and fall semesters 
      • 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

Ortiz, J., McGilligan, K, & Kelly, P. (2004). Duration of breast milk expression among working mothers enrolled in an employer sponsored lactation program. Pediatric Nursing, 30(2), 111-119. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15185732/  

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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