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Breastfeeding and Work


Updated July 31, 2012

Side-lying Breastfeeding Mother
Photo © Maxim Tupikov - Fotolia.com

The American Academy of Pediatrics revised their position statement on breastfeeding. Their position statement includes the following recommendations:

  • Human milk is the preferred feeding for all infants, including premature and sick newborns, with rare exceptions.
  • Breastfeeding should begin as soon as possible after birth, usually within the first hour.
  • No supplements (water, glucose water, formula, and so forth) should be given to breastfeeding newborns unless a medical indication exists.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding is ideal nutrition and sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months after birth. It is recommended that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired.

This is considered a great recommendation by many health care professionals, an asset to all women and babies. Even Bobbi McCaughey, the mother of the septuplets, expressed breast milk for her seven children.

One of the major obstacles to the beginning of breastfeeding and the continuation is the return to work of many mothers. There are corporate lactation programs developed to help them pump at work, and to have breastfeeding education and support available. With the AAP recommending this, not to mention the benefits to the employer (less time off for sick kids, healthier moms), I am hopeful that many more organizations will take advantage of these programs or incorporate other plans to encourage and support lactating moms.

What really surprised me was the first quote concerning the statement from the National Organization for Women. This spokesperson called the statement unfair to working mothers, claiming it would make them feel "guilty." I was really surprised. I thought that they would use this statement to make a plea to businesses to support nursing mothers. They have since come out with a statement that says just that.

What are your views on breastfeeding and returning to work. Should companies provide clean spaces, with privacy for lactating moms to either nurse or express milk? How do you feel about corporate programs designed to help companies and working mothers?

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