World Breastfeeding Week: Why it’s so important for employers to get on board
Breastfeeding is a big event for any new mother and whilst some women can ease through it with no trouble at all, others find it extremely challenging.
Enter a 'return to work' and you add another challenge to the mix? The question that comes to many women’s minds if they are still breastfeeding at this time is how they will balance feed times with full or part time work. Will they need to express? Will a carer bring their baby to the office or will they travel to them? Or, in more recent times with Covid, how will they break up the day with feeds whilst working from home in a way that isn’t disruptive to the child or work commitments?
Some working mothers might feel it’s all too hard which may end up being the catalyst to stop breastfeeding, sometimes prematurely, and others may find it coincides with the exact right time to wean their child onto a mixture of formula and solids.
Regardless of the situation, every woman deserves to feel supported in her decision making around breastfeeding her child whether she be easing (or diving) back into work.
In a recent interview for the Family Friendly Workplaces Podcast, Alison Deitz, Partner at Norton Rose Fulbright shared with Women’s Agenda her experience of senior partners walking in on her expressing in the company boardroom. Alison had recently returned to work after a period of parental leave and was still breastfeeding her daughter at the time.
From that day almost twenty years ago Norton Rose Fulbright has always had a parents room in their offices.
According to the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA), ‘establishing a successful breastfeeding relationship at birth is the first step in preparing to return to work.’
“There are many elements for families to consider when a mother returns to work after maternity leave. It is common for women to be concerned about how they will manage to continue breastfeeding their baby and fulfil work commitments.” - ABA
Whilst good preparation means a smoother transition, there are some issues that may arise for women who are looking for support from managers and colleagues.
The ABA suggest there are three key areas of support that women returning to work require. These include:
- a private, comfortable space to breastfeed or express breastmilk
- time during the working day to breastfeed or express
- support from employer and colleagues
The ABA Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace factsheets provide useful information around a woman’s rights at work and also how to approach employers.
Leading provider of parenting services and partners of Parents At Work, Karitane, have recently launched (in response to Covid) a new Virtual Breastfeeding Clinic along with a series of webinars for parents to attend.
The Virtual clinic offers one to one support for mothers and babes which includes issues that may arise with returning to work.
If you have any questions about how to manage breast feeding with your work commitments or any other related questions please email our concierge team who will put you in touch with the right expert.