Talking to your employer about your return to work and plans to breastfeed
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Making Plans with your Employer

You may think there is nothing in the world more mortifying than saying the word "breast" in front of your boss, but if this is going to work for you, you'll have to do it at least once. Here are some tools to make it easier for you. It may be that many women have pumped at work before you, and all you need to do is arrange your break times with your boss. Or, you may be the one paving the way, and you'll have to convince your boss that allowing you time to pump is a wise economic decision for his or her bottom line. In either case, you and your boss can feel better knowing that helping you continue breastfeeding will save you both money, and contribute to a happier, healthier workforce

What you'll need to breastfeed
This page contains a list of what you'll need for breastfeeding at work. You can print this out and give it to your employer.

A letter from your baby's physician
This is a letter you can print out and have your pediatrician sign. It states that your doctor recommends that you continue providing breastmilk to your baby after you return to work.

Convincing arguments
Here is a sampling of the statistical support for supporting working and breastfeeding mothers:

  • Companies that have adopted breastfeeding support programs have noted cost savings of $3 per $1 invested in breastfeeding support (1). 
  • Parental absenteeism is three times higher for formula-fed infants as compared to breastfed babies (3,4)
  • Excess use of health care services attributable to formula feeding costs an HMO between $331 and $475 per never-breastfed infant (2)
  • Insurers pay at least $3.6 billion each year to treat diseases and conditions preventable by breastfeeding (2).
  • Companies with an employee lactation support program experience less turnover and lower losses of skilled workers after childbirth. Additionally, these companies are rewarded with higher employee satisfaction, loyalty, and morale (1)
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers breastfeed exclusively for the first six months, and continue breastfeeding with the addition of complementary foods until the baby is at least one year old (5).
  • The Department of Health and Human Services stresses the importance of facilitating the continuation of breastfeeding after mothers return to their jobs (6, 7)

1) United States Breastfeeding Committee. Workplace Breastfeeding Support [issue paper]. Raleigh, NC: United States Breastfeeding Committee; 2002.
2) United States Breastfeeding Committee. Economic Benefits of Breastfeeding [issue paper]. Raleigh, NC: United States Breastfeeding Committee; 2002.
3) Cohen, R. Mrtek, MB, Mrtek RG. American Journal of Health Promotion 1995; 10:148-5
4) Ball T, Wright A. Health Care Costs of Formula-feeding in the First Year of Life. Pediatrics. Volume 103, Number 4, April 1999.
5) American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement, “Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk.” Pediatrics 97; 100:6.
6) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HHS Blueprint for Action on Breastfeeding, Washington, D.C. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health, 2000.
7) United States Breastfeeding Committee (2001). Breastfeeding in the United States: A National Agenda. Rockville MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
Originally compiled by the Wisconsin State Breastfeeding Coalition

State Programs

Several states have put together very nice online packages for supporting working mothers who are breastfeeding. The following links take you to some of these pages:

The Wisconsin "breastfeeding-friendly communities" website

The Texas "Mother-Friendly Worksite" program

The Washington State Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition


Copyright© 2005 Kirsten Berggren. All Rights Reserved.