Empowering Working Mothers: Breastfeeding in the Workplace

Breastfeeding is a natural and essential process that provides numerous benefits to both infants and mothers. It not only ensures optimal nutrition for babies but also strengthens their immune systems, promotes bonding between mother and child, and reduces the risk of various health conditions.  World Breastfeeding Week is held on August 1-7. World Breastfeeding Week 2023 focuses on breastfeeding and employment through workplace support.  

Returning to work after maternity leave can present significant challenges for breastfeeding mothers. Many women face obstacles such as limited break times, lack of private spaces for expressing milk, unsupportive work environments, and societal stigmas surrounding breastfeeding. These barriers often lead to early weaning or a decrease in exclusive breastfeeding rates. But did you know that in Indiana, employers are required to provide a private space (that is not a bathroom) and paid break time to pump if the company employs 25 or more employees?  

WIC plays a vital role in supporting breastfeeding mothers in Indiana. CoAction’s WIC program provides education, counseling, and resources to help mothers initiate and maintain breastfeeding successfully. WIC helps make the process easy for participants to receive a breast pump through their insurance company or through the WIC breast pump loan program. Participants who have a breast pump can meet with WIC staff to learn how to use it and fine tune settings to be successful in expressing breast milk at work. WIC staff are available to help participants create a breastfeeding or pumping plan that works for them to make returning to work a little less stressful. 

World Breastfeeding Week serves as a powerful platform to advocate for breastfeeding-friendly workplaces and highlights the crucial role played by organizations such as WIC and CoAction. By focusing on breastfeeding and employment in 2023, this global campaign aims to empower working mothers by promoting supportive environments that enable them to continue providing optimal nutrition for their infants. Through education, awareness-raising activities, and collaboration with employers, World Breastfeeding Week strives to create a world where every working mother can breastfeed successfully. 

The CoAction WIC program is available in six counties: Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton Jasper and Pulaski.  

Resources:  

IN BF Workplace law: https://iga.in.gov/laws/2021/ic/titles/16#16-35-6-1 Ind. Code § 22-2-14-2 (2008) section IC 22-2-14-2 and § 5-10-6-2 

World Breastfeeding Week: https://waba.org.my/wbw/ 

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