Creating breastfeeding-friendly environments is good for everyone – children, parents, employers and society. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of obesity, as well as infections and illnesses in infants, and lowers the risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis for mothers. Two particularly important places to cultivate a breastfeeding-friendly environment are in the workplace and in childcare settings.
Providing a breastfeeding-friendly worksite does not only make sense for babies and moms, it also makes sense for employers. Businesses with lactation policies enjoy lower turnover rates, lower healthcare costs, less absenteeism and higher employee productivity and morale. Additionally, treating diseases and conditions preventable by breastfeeding costs insurers at least $3.6 billion each year.
Breastfeeding-friendly worksites have programs and policies in place that support new moms returning to work. This includes:
The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) partnered with the University of California, San Diego Center for Community Health (UCSD CCH) to provide technical assistance and resources in order to increase breastfeeding-friendly workplaces in San Diego County.
Although nearly 92% of women initiate breastfeeding in California, only 45% are breastfeeding exclusively at three months and the number drops to 27% at six months. Because a childcare provider’s support for breastfeeding significantly affects the duration a working mother can breastfeed, access and availability of breastfeeding-friendly childcare is a critical support system.
Research shows that although childcare providers typically have positive attitudes toward breastfeeding, they often lack the knowledge and training on the benefits, storage and handling of breastmilk, as well as how to create a breastfeeding-friendly environment. Inadequate access to breastfeeding-friendly childcare disproportionately impacts low-income families whose economic success is dependent on reliable childcare.
The County of San Diego HHSA partnered with UCSD CCH to work with childcare centers in San Diego County. The program works to increase spaces for breastfeeding/pumping, create breastfeeding-friendly policies and assist with policy implementation and training in childcare centers.