Food and Feeding

Becoming a Breastfeeding Friendly Employer

Benefits of being a Breastfeeding-Friendly Employer

Becoming a breastfeeding friendly employer carries many benefits for employers, mothers and children. Studies show that employers who provide a breastfeeding-friendly workplace reap the rewards, including:

  • Reduced staff turnover and increased retention of skilled workers after the birth of their child.
  • Reduced leave time for parents of breastfed infants who are more resistant to illness.
  • Lower and fewer health care costs associate with healthier breastfed infants.
  • Higher job productivity, employee satisfaction and morale.
  • Enhanced loyalty among employees.
  • Added recruitment incentives for women.
  • Improved positive image in the community.
  • Healthier workforce for the future.

For a referenced handout on the specific financial benefits to employers, download The Business Case for Breastfeeding (pdf)

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How to be a Breastfeeding-Friendly Employer

Download the Breastfeeding-Friendly Employer Checklist (pdf) to determine your company's level of recognition, or use it as a guideline for setting up a new lactation support program.

Join the Project - Be Recognized as a Breastfeeding-Friendly Employer

Support your employees and get acknowledged! All employers who join will be recognized for their efforts and will receive a certificate of achievement. Please submit the checklist with your application so that appropriate recognition can be given.

  • Application form (pdf)
  • To obtain an application by mail, contact:
    Karen Flynn
    Project Coordinator
    P.O. Box 70, Burlington, VT 05402-0070
    802-652-4171

There are many ways in which employers can support breastfeeding women in the workplace

  • Create a workplace environment that supports and respects a woman’s decision to breastfeed. Recognize that breastfeeding is a benefit to the workplace and encourage that recognition in others.
  • Develop a written policy that states your company’s support of a woman’s choice to breastfeed her infant(s) and describes the worksite accommodations and/or benefits available to her.
  • Make the policy part of your company’s written policies on parenting and/or maternity benefits.
  • Inform all pregnant employees/parents of this policy as early in their pregnancy as possible.
  • Inform new employees of this policy or give them a copy as part of new employee orientation.
  • Provide a 20- to 30-minute break, both morning and afternoon, for the woman to (a) nurse her infant or (b) express her milk. If necessary, adjust the beginning and/or ending time of work to accommodate these breaks. For example, if two 15-minute breaks are allowed to all employees, the breastfeeding employee starts work 10 minutes earlier and leaves work 10 minutes later to allow for two 25-minute breaks.
  • Make a private area available for nursing or expressing milk. It should be quiet, clean and have enough room for a comfortable chair.
  • Provide a place for storing breast milk. If a refrigerator is not available, a safe place to keep a cooler is sufficient.
  • Provide a clean, safe water source and sink somewhere within the worksite for washing hands and rinsing out any breast pump equipment.

Additional support

  • Explore childcare options such as on-site childcare or subsidized care at nearby childcare centers. Consider accessibility to childcare in facility planning.
  • Provide options for breastfeeding employees such as part-time employment, job sharing, flex schedules and/or a gradual return to work.
  • Allow the nursing infant to be brought to work or allow the employee to leave the workplace to breastfeed her infant. This is important when there is no on-site childcare and when the employee must return to work prior to the minimum six-week period needed to fully establish breastfeeding.
  • Provide a breastfeeding education and support system through one or more of the following:
    1. Written educational handouts/pamphlets/books.
    2. On-site maternity/postpartum/breastfeeding mother support group.
    3. Lactation consultant services, either paid for or provided on-site

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Resources and Sample Policies

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