Breastfeeding helps children get the best start in their life. It allows cognitive development in children, secure attachment between parents and children, and reduces childhood and maternal illness. For new mums, it is not only hard to establish breastfeeding but also difficult to maintain a balance between your professional duties and your breastfeeding schedule. Many mums who return to work want to keep breastfeeding their babies.
As a new mum, you may be worried about maintaining the breastfeeding schedule at work. This can be challenging in many ways. However, you can continue the breastfeeding schedule by considering your childcare and workplace arrangements. Several workplaces are now working towards getting a breastfeeding-friendly accreditation.
A breastfeeding-friendly workplace will allow you to work and take care of your bub's needs at the same time. Some key elements are associated with a breastfeeding-friendly workplace:
Proper time allocation for feeding
Several workplaces support their employees' breastfeeding journey through the allocation of proper time during the day for breastfeeding or expressing breast milk. You may be one of the lucky mums who have their babies nearby at work. In a supportive workplace, you can have the baby brought to you or visit the baby to breastfeed when needed. Other mums can maintain the breastfeeding schedule by feeding their baby before and after work. Whatever option you go with, breastfeeding-friendly workplaces support your decision.
In the workplace, such mums can express and store milk for the little one to have at childcare. Most breastfeeding-friendly organisations give two 30-minute lactation breaks in an eight-hour shift for one year after childbirth. After that, mothers can adopt a more flexible approach and express during regular breaks.
The policies in a breastfeeding-friendly workplace help you in reconciling work and child responsibilities. This helps you to advance the well-being and development of your children while giving you peace of mind.
Lactation room for breastfeeding
Whether you want to breastfeed or express breast milk for later use, having a lactation room in your workplace can make it a lot easier. Although it is possible to breastfeed and express milk anywhere, a lot of new mums do not feel comfortable due to less experience with the process. Hence, breastfeeding-friendly workplaces have a private and comfortable space where mums can breastfeed or express milk.
If your workplace does not have a lactation room, discuss it with an employer. The allocated space should have a chair, a table and a socket so that you can connect the breast milk pumps. Some workplaces also have a pantry refrigerator to store the milk. If it is not common practice in your area to allocate a refrigerator for the purpose, you and your employer can discuss other options.
Complete support from colleagues and employer
In a breastfeeding-friendly workplace, the employees can discuss their concerns and plans with employers. Several places of work support mothers' breastfeeding practice by allowing mums to take sick leaves or half-days if dealing with lactation issues. Before returning to work, you can discuss your plans with fellow employees or employers to make it easier for yourself. You can also recommend or request services that can make your breastfeeding experience a lot better.
Breastfeeding your child while working can be stressful for many mums. This is why breastfeeding-friendly accreditation by an organisation allows you to practise breastfeeding in a much more comfortable manner.
It is important that you discuss the options and facilities you can be provided at the workplace with your employer. If your workplace is not accredited, however, it is never too late to suggest a change. Breastfeeding-friendly workplaces have a higher employee satisfaction rate and lower turnover.