Breastfeeding Support Benefits Baby, Mom and Employer
There are many known health benefits of breastfeeding for baby and mother. Breastfed babies have fewer instances of diarrhea, ear infections, episodes of influenza and respiratory infections; decreased eczema and reduced severity of allergies. Breastfeeding women have reduced rates of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer and increased emotional health. For these reasons, it is especially important among working mothers to have lactation support in the workplace. In Iowa, this is significant because over half of the women in the state's workforce are of childbearing age.
Companies that support its breastfeeding employees increase its bottom line and reputation as a great place to work. Not only are babies and moms healthier, the cost savings of breastfeeding support are gained through reduced employee absenteeism, reduced employee turnover and decreased numbers of health care claims.
Even though 74 percent of childbearing women in Iowa initially breastfeed, nationally, the state lags behind in the number of women who breastfeed past the early months. Only 35 percent breastfeed after 6 months and a contributing factor is the lack of support to breastfeed in the workplace.
"There's a minimal cost for establishing a lactation room for breastfeeding employees," said Holly Szcodronski, Breastfeeding Coordinator with the Bureau of Nutrition and Health Promotion at the Iowa Department of Public Health. "Women will breastfeed longer if they have a place to go. Providing lactation support to breastfeeding employees is a win-win situation for the employer, the mother and most importantly the baby."
To minimize cost, companies can use an existing room that has low usage (such as a storage room that can be emptied and converted), dividing an existing room by installing a wall and a locked door, or converting part of the lounge area of a bathroom to a suitable lactation room.
Recently, a new lactation room opened on the Capitol Complex in the Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) building at 1000 East Grand. "It was necessary to make this happen for our employees," said IWD Communications Director/Legislative Liaison Kerry Koonce. "Lactation support helps us contribute to our mission of providing quality customer service that supports the prosperity, productivity, health and safety of Iowans."
The other lactation rooms available to complex employees and visitors are available in the Lucas, Hoover, Wallace buildings and Capitol.