Breastfeeding Moms Aren’t Getting Enough Support at Work, Survey Finds

Four out of five moms feel employers could do a better job of supporting breastfeeding moms.
ByNehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
Mar 2020
upset woman in her work office putting her head in her hands

Breastfeeding is a challenge in and of itself, as it can take some time for both mom and baby to get used to the process—add it can get even harder for moms who return to work. Now, a survey is showing that four out of five moms feel that their employers could do a better job of supporting breastfeeding moms.

The survey was conducted by Medela, Mamava and Milk Stork to better understand the challenges that breastfeeding moms face when returning to work, as well as figure out how employers can better offer support during the transition. The survey included over 2,000 working moms and found that 68 percent of moms felt like they didn’t have the time or flexibility to pump (and pump enough breast milk) at work.

Another issue? Many moms felt they didn’t have a dignified space, with only 40 percent saying they had a dedicated lactation space or mothers’ room with a locking door. Less than a third (28 percent) said they had a comfortable and well-furnished space, while over 26 percent said they didn’t have a space at work to pump at all. In fact, survey respondents stated that they had pumped in their cars, their boss’s office (with another person present) and in sight of a security camera.

For moms who frequently travel for work, three quarters stated there weren’t enough places to pump on-the-go and over 65 percent said it was a challenge to get the milk back home to their baby. In terms of what employers could do to help, in third of respondents said that offering a flexible schedule during the first few weeks back was “the best thing” their company offered. Meanwhile, 20 percent stated they valued having a comfortable and private space with breastfeeding supplies. Providing a breast pump to use may also help, as 57 percent of moms said if they forgot their pump or a necessary part for it, they would drive back home from work to get it.

“Moms told us that going back to work as a breastfeeding parent still isn’t easy. The good news is that there are some simple solutions to help employers improve the support they offer,” Melissa Gonzales, executive vice president of the Americas, Medela LLC, stated in a news release. “We’re excited to work with Mamava and Milk Stork—two companies that share Medela’s commitment to supporting breast milk feeding parents—to help both moms and employers find solutions that work for everyone involved.”

In an effort to support breast milk feeding families, the three companies have also partnered to create New Moms’ Healthy Returns, a program that recognizes the challenges employers may face in finding and engaging with several vendors to support breastfeeding. The program also provides breastfeeding products from Medela, lactation pods from Mamava, breast milk shipping through Milk Stork and 24/7 virtual support to access pediatric exerts and lactation consultants from pregnancy through baby’s first year.

While the survey makes clear that more needs to be done to help breastfeeding moms when they return to work, the program is a step in the right direction. If you’re a breastfeeding mom about to return to work, check out our top tips on breastfeeding when you’re back to work.

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