We need to do everything we can to educate women and their families about the importance of breastfeeding, and to make it easier for women to breastfeed their babies, even when they need to go to back to work.
Breastfeeding carries tremendous benefits for mother, baby and society as a whole. There are many different ways communities can support mothers and babies to breastfeed, and everyone plays a role.
I am very concerned about food and ensuring that kids are given a good start in life with the nutrition they need to succeed and lead healthy lives. Studies have shown again and again that breastfed babies are less likely to be obese as adults. And, there are many health benefits for moms as well when they breastfeed, even just for one month, including hastening their recovery from childbirth.
Thanks to President Obama’s federal healthcare legislation and Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” Campaign, changes are finally being made to support a woman’s choice to nurse. For example, large employers will have to provide accommodations for nursing mothers to pump while at work and tax incentives have been created to encourage breastfeeding. But, we can’t stop there.
We must encourage employers to make accommodations for their employees who are nursing mothers to express their milk during the workday. And, we need to encourage employers to consider allowing their employees to bring their infants to work so they can be nursed directly on the job. In 2011, I was recognized as a Model Employer by the Maternity Care Coalition for implementing a successful workplace lactation program in my district office. When my Chief of Staff had her son, I invited her to bring him back to the office with her when he was just a month old so she could nurse him directly and care for him herself while at the office. And it worked out wonderfully.