breastfeeding-friendly-workplace

The DC Breastfeeding Coalition (DCBFC) and the Maryland Breastfeeding Coalition (MBC) join hands once again to recognize work sites within the District, Maryland and Northern Virginia who are committed to promoting and protecting their female employees’ rights to provide human milk to their infants as long as they may choose. Sixty businesses have been honored with this award since 2010 (www.mdbfc.org) and (www.dcbfc.org).

399px-BreastfeedingFor the second year the Coalitions will also be recognizing Healthcare Provider offices (OB, Pediatric and Family Practice) that promote and support breastfeeding through the combination of a conducive office environment and education of healthcare professionals, office staff and families.

According to The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s clinical protocol, a mother’s prenatal intention to breastfeed is influenced to a great extent by the opinion and support of the healthcare providers she encounters. Last year, four healthcare provider offices were honored for their support of breastfeeding patients.

DCBFC and MBC are nonprofit organizations, which unite breastfeeding advocates, healthcare providers, and families to provide a forum for the development and exchange of resources to foster the establishment of breastfeeding as the normal way to nurture infants. The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with numerous other health organizations, strongly recommend as optimal for nutrition and health benefits that an infant receive only human milk for the first 6 months, and continue receiving breast milk once complimentary foods are started for a minimum of 12 months of life.

A key barrier to a longer duration of breastfeeding is maternal return to employment, due in part to a lack of education and support received for breast milk expression in the workplace.

  • The requirement to provide a clean, private space and flexible, reasonable unpaid breaks for women to express their milk during work hours without discrimination is clearly stated in Section 4207 of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (“Reasonable Break Time for Nursing Mothers”) and the District of Columbia’s Human Rights Act (“The Child’s Right to Nurse Human Rights Amendment Act of 2007”).
  • Health People 2020 includes a goal to increase the proportion of employers with workplace lactation support programs from 25% to 38%.
  • US Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, in her 2011 “Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding”, strongly encouraged employers to do their part to support women who choose to breastfeed.

Studies have shown that work-site support of employees enrolled in a company-provided lactation support program benefits companies through increased rates of retention, employee satisfaction and morale, decreased health care and insurance costs, and a reduction in sick leave requests to care for an ill child. Loyal employed mothers who want to continue breastfeeding have just a few needs which can help them continue their dedicated service to their employer while meeting the needs of their child.

Nominations for Breastfeeding-Friendly Businesses and Healthcare Provider Offices are now being sought. These nominations can be made on the DCBFC website or MBC website until September 14, 2015.

  • Employees may nominate their employers but must have consent from the business to have a site visit conducted to confirm the nomination.
  • Businesses previously awarded at the Bronze or Silver level are eligible for nomination if seeking a higher level of recognition.
  • Applications will be reviewed by Coalition Workplace Committee members and assigned points according to specific criteria.
  • Workplace site visits will occur by October 14, 2015. Bronze, Silver, and Gold winners will be publicly announced on the MBC and DCBFC websites and through award ceremonies conducted by the Coalitions.

17038489286_f0d11fe1a3_zSupport of breastfeeding mothers in the workplace is a global initiative as witnessed by this year’s World Breastfeeding Week theme, “Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make it Work!” Please join us as we continue to recognize places of business and health care providers, which jointly honor their employees’ and patients’ commitment and contributions to their place of employment and to the health and future of their children. Please contact awards@dcbfc.org for any questions.