CONCORD, NH – Four New Hampshire Businesses recently received a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace award by the New Hampshire Breastfeeding Task Force. Southwestern Community Services, Goodwin Community Health, WS Badger, and Hannaford’s Supermarket in Plymouth, were recognized for developing a breastfeeding policy, allowing flexible break times and providing a designated private space for milk expression. Since 2013, the Breastfeeding Task Force has recognized employers that support breastfeeding in their workplaces.\
“Mothers are one of the fastest growing segments of the US workforce according to recent Department of Labor reports,” said Joyce Kelly, Chair of the Task Force and Project Coordinator for NH Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. “Supporting mothers that return to work and desire to continue expressing milk, is a win-win. Mothers get to provide the most nutritious food for their infant and are able to return to their job. Employers get employees with higher job satisfaction and lower turnover.
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) has partnered with the Breastfeeding Task Force and other organizations, including New Hampshire Occupational Health Surveillance Program, the Foundation for Healthy Communities, Keene State College, and the Healthy Monadnock Initiative, to provide NH employers with a worksite lactation support toolkit. Funding from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers has made it possible to provide employers with education, resources, and on-site technical assistance to develop and sustain a worksite lactation support program, in order to improve breastfeeding duration.
“We recognize the importance of supporting mothers who choose to breastfeed and value the reward that it provides to public health, such as lower healthcare costs, reduced chronic disease, and healthier mothers and babies,” said DPHS Director Lisa Morris. “We are excited to partner with such great organizations in our State that share goals and visions for a healthy New Hampshire.”
DPHS and partnering organizations recently conducted a survey of more than 680 women enrolled in the NH Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program to better understand workplace policies and practices related to breastfeeding and increase prevalence of breastfeeding after returning to work. Survey questions focused on workplace policies and support practices that encourage or discourage breastfeeding after returning to work. The majority of the women surveyed reported that they do not or are not sure if their workplace has a private place to pump at work.
There are numerous benefits to employers, communities, and individuals by continuing breastfeeding. All major maternal and child health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization, recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, followed by the introduction of appropriate complementary foods and continued breastfeeding until at least 12 months of age. Breastfed infants have fewer illnesses, which can reduce health care costs as well result in less absence from work by the mother to care for her sick infant.
For more information on breastfeeding education and support, visit the Breastfeeding Promotion & Support page athttps://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/nhp/wic/breastfeeding.htm.