Breastfeeding-Friendly Environments

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.



lactation supportive environments

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.

What is a breastfeeding-friendly worksite?

Breastfeeding-friendly worksites have programs and policies in place that support new moms returning to work. This includes:

  • Establishing comfortable and private place for new moms to pump breastmilk or breastfeed;
  • Creating a culture of understanding and acceptance for breastfeeding through training, resources, and related activities;
  • Enacting policies that support break-time for lactation and educating management; and
  • Educating new moms on available resources and the benefits of breastfeeding.


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.

What are the barriers to breastfeeding-friendly childcare centers?

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.

Breastfeeding-friendly childcare centers in San Diego County

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.