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Breastfeeding: Making It Work in the Workplace

National Breastfeeding Month is a chance for Ohio medical experts to remind employers to support breastfeeding moms with access to resources in the workplace, including a private place to pump milk and then store it. Photo courtesy of CDC
National Breastfeeding Month is a chance for Ohio medical experts to remind employers to support breastfeeding moms with access to resources in the workplace, including a private place to pump milk and then store it. Photo courtesy of CDC
August 19, 2015

CINCINNATI - Breastfeeding benefits are vast, medical experts say, but it can be a real challenge for moms when they go back to work.

While about 70 percent of new Ohio moms start out breastfeeding, only about 40 percent still do so after six months, said lactation expert Dr. Ardythe Morrow, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Human Milk and Lactation and professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. Returning to work often is cited as a reason, but Morrow noted that under the Affordable Care Act, employers are required to provide break time and a private environment for lactating mothers during the workday.

"There's still many circumstances when moms find it difficult," she said, "but there's been great strides in making rooms available to mothers who can pump and then store their milk so that someone else can feed their baby if they're at work."

August is National Breastfeeding Month.

Morrow said breast-fed babies have lower risk of pneumonia and ear infections, and a reduced risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies be exclusively breastfed for about the first six months of life.

Morrow said the medical community is working to build awareness of the need for employers to help new moms achieve their breastfeeding goals as they transition back to their jobs.

"Breastfeeding is something that in some senses they say 'takes a village,' it takes support," she said. "A breastfeeding mother needs the support of her husband, her family and other people to encourage and help her."

Morrow noted that not all women choose to breastfeed, and others face such challenges as pain or low milk supply.

"For all areas of medical science, including lactation," she said, "there are people doing research to understand what the problems are, and why some moms are struggling."

She said there are resources to help new moms and encourages them to reach out to their pediatrician or a lactation consultant if they are having questions or difficulties.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH