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Ohio Moms Getting Help from the Boss with Breastfeeding

January 19, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Nursing moms are getting additional protections in the workplace, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The law requires that companies with 50 or more employees provide break time for workers to pump breast milk until their babies are one year old. However, some employers are going above and beyond the requirement.

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center has introduced a new Employee Lactation Support Program this month. Dr. Sheela Geraghty is director of the Center for Breastfeeding Medicine at the hospital.

"The environment of having children in the United States has changed a great deal, and 70 percent of moms are trying to nurse; and the more support that those mothers get, the more likely babies will be breastfed and provided the best nutrition that they can have."

Expressing milk during the workday is critical for moms who breastfeed, explains Geraghty, because their milk supply will dwindle if it is not regularly used. And she says the time needed does not disrupt the workday.

"It's just really part of the break time allotted. Women are very good at multitasking and so, usually women can pump and eat their lunch, or pump and answer some phone calls, or do some paperwork at the same time."

Geraghty says breastfed babies tend to get sick less, which means fewer missed days at work for new moms. She says there are other additional benefits that breastfeeding support can offer to employers.

"From an employer's standpoint, it decreases the healthcare costs that they employer has to pay, for prescriptions or for doctor visits. And so overall, infants who are healthier make the employees' workplace more functional."

The program provides new mothers time and space to pump and store milk during the workday in a safe and clean manner. Geraghty says they are also providing education to managerial staff about ways they can support nursing moms, before and after they take maternity leave.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH