Washington, Jan 22 (PTI) Working mothers still face several barriers at work to overcome gaps in quality and accessibility of breastfeeding resources, despite the protections in place to support them, according to a study which may lead to new workplace policies.
The study, published in the journal Workplace Health & Safety, assessed breastfeeding support in US offices since federal guidelines went into place over a decade ago requiring employers to provide unpaid break time for employees to be able to express breast milk.
'We know that there are benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and the infant, and we know that returning to work is a significant challenge for breastfeeding continuation,' said study co-author Rachel McCardel from the University of Georgia in the US.
'There is a collective experience that we wanted to explore and learn how can we make this better,' McMardel said.
In the study, the researchers surveyed female employees, who performed a variety of jobs, asking them questions about their access to breastfeeding resources like private rooms, breast pumps, and lactation consultants.
They also asked the respondents about their experiences with combining breastfeeding and work.
Nearly 80 per cent of the respondents had a private space at work to express milk, and around two-thirds of the women said they had break times to breastfeed.
However, the study found that their access to other resources like lactation consultants, or breast pumps was less common.
There was also a general lack of communication about the resources available to the mothers, the researchers said.
'Designate a person who is responsible for making sure that women who are preparing for the birth of their baby understand what resources they have available to them when they return to work,' said study co-author Heather Padilla from the University of Georgia.
The researchers said the care and support for employees should extend to breastfeeding support.
'According to the most recent Workplace Health in America Survey, we're now seeing about 46 per cent of worksites are offering some sort of health promotion programming, but only 8 per cent offer lactation resources,' McCardel said.
'I feel like that's a missed opportunity because it's a crucial part of work-life balance, especially for new mothers,' she added. PTI VIS VIS VIS