Four NH businesses recognized for supporting breastfeeding moms
Decrease in infant illnesses helps employers’ bottom line says Dept. of Health
The New Hampshire Breastfeeding Task Force recently awarded Southwestern Community Services, Goodwin Community Health, W.S. Badger and Hannaford’s Supermarket in Plymouth for their lactation support programs. All four businesses received the Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace award for developing a breastfeeding policy, allowing flexible break times and providing a designated private space for milk expression.
The NH Breastfeeding Task Force is a group of mainly medical professionals and lactation specialists that encourage the continuation of breastfeeding to meet infants’ nutritional needs. The group is aiming to meet goals set by the U.S. Dept. of Health in a 2020 report that call for 81 percent of New Hampshire infants to be breastfed at hospital discharge, 60 percent of infants to continue breastfeeding until six months of age and 34 percent of infants to continue until hitting the one-year mark.
Since 2013, the NH Breastfeeding Task Force has recognized companies for their lactation support programs.
“Mothers are one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. 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 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 employers with a worksite lactation support toolkit.
With funding from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers, the state Dept. of Health has online resources and on-site technical assistance to help companies develop and sustain a worksite lactation support program 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.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization, breastfed infants have fewer illnesses, which can reduce health care costs as well as result in less absence from work by a parent to care for a sick infant.