Post written by Jennifer Brady, Health Educator with the Loudoun County Health Department, thank you!
For more information about the Chamber’s Health & Wellness Business Initiative, click here.
Last month at Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce’s 4th Annual Healthy Business Challenge Awards, local businesses were recognized for their achievements in creating top-notch workplace wellness programs for their employees. Of these participating businesses, approximately 1 out of 3 reported having a breastfeeding policy for their employees as well as accommodations for new mothers returning to work after giving birth. Breastfeeding policies are an essential and attractive component to an award-winning workplace wellness program! Special congratulations to the Loudoun County Government for becoming one of the first counties in Virginia to implement a comprehensive employee Lactation Support Program (LSP).
But, don’t be discouraged if your business does not have a policy in place. Incorporating a comprehensive LSP is both easy and cost-effective. Several studies show a 3:1 return on investment for employers due to lower absenteeism, increased productivity, higher retention rates, and lower health insurance costs.
So, what exactly is a LSP?
It is a program that can exist within your current Human Resources department or Wellness Program that provides new mothers with support for their breastfeeding goals. This includes:
- Privacy to Express Milk: If women do not work in a private office, a small, private space (as small as 4’ x 5’) can be set up for a lactation room. Many companies also provide a hospital-grade electric breast pump that makes pumping quicker and more efficient. Employees should never be asked to express milk or breastfeed in a restroom.
- Flexible Breaks: Milk expression sessions usually take around 15 minutes, plus time to get to and from the lactation room, and are needed about every 3-4 hours. Breastfeeding employees typically need no more than an hour per work day to express milk, which can easily be divided between usual paid breaks and the meal period.
- Education: Employees value information they receive during their pregnancy about continuing to breastfeed upon returning to work. Pamphlets, resources, lunchtime prenatal classes, and access to a lactation consultant can help employees feel more prepared.
- Support: Supportive policies and practices that enable women to successfully return to work and breastfeed send a message to all employees that breastfeeding is valued. Support is a temporary need for each breastfeeding employee – once babies begin eating solid foods at 6 months, milk expression requirements gradually diminish.
In 2eased productivity, higher retention rates, and lower health insurance costs.licy in place!
But, why is breastfeeding support important for your employees and your business?
Implementing a LSP keeps your business in line with Virginia’s Plan for Well-Being which includes the strategy to “Implement policies that support women and their families in breastfeeding for at least six months.” It also helps your business to become compliant with Federal Law: Section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act if it applies to your company.
Additionally, there is evidence that businesses that support breastfeeding allow women to provide their babies with breast milk for a longer period of time. This is important to the health and well-being of our community because breastfeeding yields increased health benefits for both mothers and babies. By implementing a LSP, your business is supporting a healthier workforce today and creating a healthier workforce for tomorrow!
If you are interested in learning more about implementing a LSP in your business, reach out to the Loudoun County Health Department for our tool kit and technical assistance with the process. Contact Janine Rethy, MD, MPH, IBCLC (Janine.Rethy@loudoun.gov) or Jennifer Brady (Jennifer.Brady@loudoun.gov).