# Health Policy

Important bill would make it easier for working moms to breastfeed

A friend forwarded to me an action alert from the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women about House File 2292, which

would require employers to make reasonable efforts to provide a private place, other than a toilet stall, for nursing mothers to express breast milk or to breastfeed a child on their regular breaks.

Employers benefit when their employees are able to continue breastfeeding, as this website makes clear:

Benefits to the Employer

   * Reduced staff turnover and loss of skilled workers after the birth of a child

   * Reduced sick time/personal leave for breastfeeding women because their infants are more resistant to illness

   * Lower health care costs associated with healthier, breastfed infants

   * Higher job productivity, employee satisfaction and morale

   * Added recruitment incentive for women

   * Enhanced reputation as a company concerned for the welfare of its employees and their families

An absence of just one day costs the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power average $360 (for a $15 per hour employee). And it takes one and one-half days to have someone else do that employee’s work.

“It works to everyone’s advantage to show people that we really care about them and their babies,” says Tory Arriaga, a nurse at PanEnergy Corp, Houston. “The Company wins because we’ve got an employee who is very happy and who is probably gong to have less sick time and a healthier baby at home.”

“This newfound corporate interest arises from studies showing breast-fed babies have fewer minor illnesses. Sick babies pile up medical bills and frequently keep their mothers and fathers out of work. Providing new mothers with a private room, breast pumps, refrigerators and an extra break or two a day becomes a money-saving proposition.”

Benefits to the Employee

   * Facilitates the mother’s postpartum recovery

   * Reduces the incidence and severity of allergies and of ear and respiratory infections in infants, which translates into less time off and sick leave taken

   * Provides the most complete, easily digested, convenient and economical source of nourishment for infants

   * Creates a special closeness between mother and infant

   * Enhances the mother’s self-esteem and confidence

   * May lessen the risk of breast cancer

   * See Benefits of Breastfeeding article for an inclusive list

“Providing the opportunity and the resources for new mothers to be able to continue breastfeeding after they return to work enhances employee morale and productivity”.

The state has a clear interest in promoting breastfeeding even after women return to the workplace.

Breastfeeding has many health benefits for babies and mothers. (Click that link for a huge list of articles and resources on this subject.)

Continuing the breastfeeding relationship promotes a strong and healthy attachment between mothers and babies.

There are even environmental benefits of breastfeeding longer.

The Iowa Commission on the Status of Women notes:

There are two ways you can help. But don’t delay! HF2292 must be voted out of Committee by March 6th in order to remain viable!

Come to a “Nurse In” at 4:00 pm on Monday, March 3 at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines! Bring nursing infants and toddlers to the 2nd floor Capitol Rotunda. Older children are also welcome! (Be prepared to sit on the floor.) Please let your legislator know you are coming and would like to visit with her/him about HF2292.

Email or call your legislators and ask them to support HF2292. This is a cost-free measure to protect the health and well-being of our youngest Iowans. With Iowa’s mothers working at such a high rate, the least we can do for them is to guarantee their right to a reasonable accommodation to express breastmilk at work.

Look up your legislators’ email address at www.legis.state.ia.us or call them at 515-281-3221. You can look up the names of your legislators and the text of HF2292 at the same address.

The full text of the release from the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women is after the jump.

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