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Empowering Families: Breastfeeding and Employment

Thursday, August 31, 2023

World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) was the first week of August and is an annual global campaign that raises awareness about the importance of breastfeeding for infants and mothers. This year, the event focused on the connections between breastfeeding and employment, exploring how paid leave, workplace support, and changing parenting norms affect breastfeeding.

Balancing Work and Breastfeeding:

  • Parents face challenges when trying to balance work and breastfeeding.
  • Limited maternity leave, lack of workplace support, and societal norms can hinder breastfeeding.

 The Importance of Paid Leave:

  • Longer paid maternity leave positively influences breastfeeding rates by allowing parents to establish breastfeeding routines and bond with their infants.
  • When fathers take paternity leave, their infants are more likely to be breastfed at 2, 4 and 6 months.

Supportive Workplaces for Breastfeeding:

  • Workplace policies like flexible schedules, dedicated lactation spaces, and breaks for breastfeeding or expressing milk are essential.
  • These measures improve employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention.

Changing Parenting Norms and Breastfeeding:

  • Society’s attitudes toward parenting and breastfeeding are evolving.
  • Normalizing breastfeeding in public spaces, workplaces, and communities is crucial.
  • Challenge stigmas and create inclusive environments that support breastfeeding without judgment or discrimination.

By engaging governments, policymakers, workplaces, communities, and parents, the WBW campaign aims to empower families and create sustainable breastfeeding-friendly environments. Together, we can build a future where breastfeeding and employment go hand in hand, ensuring the health and well-being of both infants and mothers.

Example of Breastfeeding in the workplace:

Our Peru WIC office has provided time for employee Katelyn Shanks, RN to pump twice a day for her infant son.  Katelyn wants to be able to provide him with breastmilk until he turns 1 year.   Katelyn has expressed that being able to pump at work has definitely helped her in being able to breastfeed her baby longer. 

Indiana Breastfeeding Laws:

image of Indiana Statehouse

Indiana Code § 16-35-6 allows a woman to breastfeed her child anywhere she has a right to be.

Indiana Code § 5-10-6 allows for paid breaks for an employee to express her breast milk for her infant (for the state and political subdivisions of Indiana)

Indiana Code § 22-2-14-2 allows, to the extent reasonably possible, for employers with 25 employees or more to provide a location, other than a toilet stall, where an employee can express her breast milk in privacy during any period away from her assigned duties and to provide a refrigerator or other cold storage space for keeping milk that has been expressed; or allow the employee to provide her own portable cold storage device for keeping milk that has been expressed until the end of the work day.

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