Business Case for Breastfeeding Support in the Work Place
Supporting breastfeeding employees is good for business
Breastfeeding employees miss work less often
Business Savings: One-day absences to care for sick children occur more than twice as often for mothers of formula feeding infants.1
Breastfeeding lowers health care cost 2,3
Business Savings: The insurance company CIGNA conducted a 2-year study of 343 employees who participated in their lactation support program, and found that the program resulted in an annual savings of $240,000 in health care expenses, 62 percent fewer prescriptions, and $60,000 savings in reduced absenteeism rates.4
Investing in a worksite lactation support program can yield substantial dividends to the company.
Lower Turnover Rates
Business Savings: Studies have shown companies with lactation support programs have retention rates of between 83% and 94% compared to the national average of only 59%5,6,7
Additional Health Care Savings
Business Savings: Mutual of Omaha found that health care costs for newborns are three times lower for babies whose mothers participate in their company’s maternity and lactation program. Per person health care costs were $2,146 more for employees who did not participate in the program, with a yearly savings of $115,881 in health care claims for the breastfeeding mothers and babies.1
Higher Productivity and Loyalty 8
Business Savings: The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power found that a lactation support program for mothers, fathers, and partners of male employees made a dramatic difference in reducing turnover and absenteeism rates for both male and female workers. Employees felt more positive about the company as a result of the program and 67% intended to make it their long term employer. 9
Companies with worksite lactation support programs enjoy positive public relations.
What are the components of a successful Worksite Lactation Program?
A comprehensive program that includes the following four components has been shown in business environments to provide the greatest return on investment:
1. Privacy for mothers to express milk.
This can be a woman’s private office (if it can be locked) or an onsite, designated lactation room with an electrical outlet where breastfeeding employees can use a pump to express milk during the work period.
2. Flexible breaks
Women need to express milk about every 3 hours, or two to three times during a typical work day. Each milk expression time takes around 15 minutes, plus time to go to and from the lactation room.
Employer-provided information and resources accessible through the worksite during pregnancy and after the baby is born help prepare women for balancing the requirements for breastfeeding with their job responsibilities. This information is also beneficial for expectant fathers. Companies that provide lactation information and support for male employees and their partners have lower absenteeism rates among men and lower health insurance claims.
A positive, accepting attitude from upper management, supervisors, and coworkers helps breastfeeding employees feel confident in their ability to continue working while breastfeeding.
1. Cohen R, Mrtek MB & Mrtek RG. (1995). Comparison of maternal absenteeism and infant illness rates among breastfeeding and formula-feeding women in two corporations. American Journal of Health Promotion, 10 (2), 148-153.
2. Ball T & Wright A. (1999). Health care costs of formula- feeding in the first year of life. Pediatrics, 103 (4), 871-876.
3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2007). Breastfeeding and maternal and infant health outcomes in developed countries. Evidence report, Technology Assessment, Number 153.
4. Dickson V, Hawkes C, Slusser W, Lange L, & Cohen R. (2000). The positive impact of a corporate lactation program on breastfeeding initiation and duration rates: help for the working mother. Unpublished manuscript. Presented at the Annual Seminar for Physicians, co-sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and La Leche League International, on July 21, 2000.
5. Mutual of Omaha. (2001). Prenatal and lactation education reduces newborn health care costs. Omaha, NE: Mutual of Omaha
6. Ortiz, J, McGilligan K, & Kelly P. (2004). Duration of breast milk expression among working mothers enrolled in an employer-sponsored lactation program. Pediatric Nursing, 30(2):111-119.
7. EEO Trust. (2001). New Zealand’s Best Employers in Work and Life 2001. Auckland, NZ.
8. Galtry J. (1997). Lactation and the labor market: breastfeeding, labor market changes, and public policy in the United States. Health Care Women Int., 18, 467-480.
9. Cohen R, Lange L & Slusser W. (2002). A description of a male-focused breastfeeding promotion corporate lactation program. Journal of Human Lactation, 18(1), 61-65.
10. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2005) Division of Labor Force Statistics, Washington, D.C. Available at: www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/famee.pdf
11. National Immunization Survey. (2005). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available online at: www.cdc.gov/ breastfeeding/data/NIS_data/data_2005.htm 12. Slusser W. et al. (2004). Breast milk expression in the. workplace: a look at frequency and times. Journal of Human Lactation 20(2):164-169.
12. The Business Case for Breastfeeding Toolkit (2011) Department of Health and Human Services, USA. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/government-in-action/business-case-for-breastfeeding/
Through various local efforts, the Coalition recognizes local hospitals and organizations for their support of breastfeeding employees with the Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite recognition.