© Texas Department of State Health Services. Photo used with permission.
Breastfeeding offers so many benefits to both mom and baby, but it can be hard work! Before many women even have the time to get the hang of breastfeeding, they are often met with new challenges as they return to work. Like needing to pump during the workday to maintain their milk supply. But these challenges can be made easier with the help of employers. Providing basic arrangements that allow women to comfortably express and store breast milk when separated from their babies during the workday is one way to make things a little easier for breastfeeding moms.
Keep reading to learn about what the Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite Program is doing to help moms succeed in meeting their breastfeeding goals and how you can get involved in supporting a breastfeeding-friendly culture in the workplace!
Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite Program
The Texas Mother Friendly Worksite Program (TMFW) strives to reduce workplace barriers to breastfeeding and increase the number of employers who have worksite lactation support policies and programs.
The TMFW program recognizes employers who develop and maintain “Mother-Friendly” policies that ensure 1) adequate time for the expression of breast milk; 2) a private non-bathroom space to express breast milk; 3) access to a clean, safe water source to wash hands and clean pumping equipment; and, 4) access to hygienic options for storage of expressed breast milk. We also provide guidance, education, tools, and technical assistance for employers seeking the Texas “Mother-Friendly” recognition. To date, we have officially designated more than 2,400 worksites in Texas as “Mother-Friendly” and we continue to add to that number every day! Click on the map to check out our interactive Texas Directory that shows which businesses around you are proactively supporting their breastfeeding employees!
How Can You Promote a Culture of Breastfeeding Support?
Taking action to increase lactation support in the workplace can feel intimidating. Here are some steps to take if you’re thinking about promoting workplace lactation support:
1. Get Some Input, Find Some Allies
Before talking to a business or employer about supporting breastfeeding, it may be helpful to gather information from friends, family, and other working moms about their experiences with breastfeeding. Sharing a collective experience can often be a more powerful method of communication.
2. See What The Employer Already Offers
To find out whether a workplace offers breastfeeding support, a human resource (HR) representative would be a good first stop. Ask if the workplace has a breastfeeding policy or offers accommodations for breastfeeding moms. Many employers are required to provide a certain level of lactation support.
3. Encourage Employers to Become Designated as Texas “Mother-Friendly”
Tell your local businesses why breastfeeding is important for moms, babies, and businesses. Here are some Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite Program resources to share:
4. Spread the word about the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Austin*
If you or someone you know is pumping breastmilk at home or at work, consider donating any extra milk to the Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin. More women successfully pumping milk at work can also mean more potential milk for the tiniest of babies. Let others know how easy it is to give the life-saving benefits of human milk!
*Fun fact, the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Austin is a designated Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite!
5. Know the Law
There are several laws in place that protect rights of employees to express breastmilk during the workday.
Section 7(r) of the Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers covered by the Act to provide reasonable break time for a nursing employee who is non-exempt each time she has a need to pump, and provide her with a private, secure place other than a bathroom for the purpose of milk expression.
Texas Health and Safety Code Sec. § 165.003 Business Designation As "Mother-Friendly" provides the authority for the Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite Program and its recognition of businesses that voluntarily maintain a “Mother-Friendly” worksite lactation support policy.
Texas Government Code § 619 Right to Express Breastmilk in the Workplace requires public employers (e.g. counties, municipalities, school districts, universities, governmental offices or departments) in the State of Texas to develop a written breastfeeding support policy on expressing breast milk and provide reasonable break time and a private place to an employee to pump at work each time she has a need.
6. Share What You Know With Your Friends!
If you know of others who are passionate about promoting breastfeeding, share this information with them! The Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite Program’s infographic is a great way to get out the “big picture” message of supporting breastfeeding moms. Share this image on your favorite social media site!