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Employers can support breastfeeding mums

Posted on the 1st June 2016

Mothers employed at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust who breastfeed their babies can now continue to do so once they return to work thanks to guidelines that the Trust has introduced.

The guidelines—part of the Trust’s Breastfeeding Policy—allows employees to continue breastfeeding or giving breastmilk once they return to work for as long as they need, something that the Trust’s Infant Feeding Team is encouraging local employers to also replicate.

Exclusively breastfeeding babies is recommended for around the first six months of a baby’s life, after which it is encouraged with solid food. Aside from certain legal obligations, supporting breastfeeding can benefit employers by lowering recruitment and training costs, attract potential employees and reduce absence due to child sickness as breastfed babies are generally healthier.

Katie Wharton, Infant Feeding Coordinator at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, said:  “The health benefits of breastmilk cannot be measured. It’s important that employers support their staff to be able to continue breastfeeding or giving breastmilk for the maximum amount of time after birth. As a result, we’ve developed a policy to ensure managers are supported to make staff aware during antenatal conversations that if they’re thinking of returning to work and breastfeeding, then we have a policy in place to help and support them to do so. This is a fantastic piece of work which other employers in Lancashire could replicate.

“Employers can very easily accommodate employees wishing to continue breastfeeding or giving breastmilk when they return to work. In fact every effort needs to be made to accommodate their needs, including providing time and suitable facilities. Having a policy such as this would increase staff morale and loyalty and also encourage staff to return to work earlier.”

The Department of Health recommends that babies are breastfed exclusively for the first six months of their life with continuation of breastfeeding breastmilk as part of the infant’s diet throughout the first one to two years and beyond.

Breastfeeding protects babies from infections and diseases this in itself supports staff to remain in work by reducing the amount of time off to look after poorly children, provides health benefits for mothers too and can build a strong physical and emotional bond between mother and baby promoting both their emotional and physical wellbeing.

If you would like more information about this or have a business such as a café, library or public space and wish to sign up to Lancashire’s Breastfeeding Friendly Places contact infant.feeding@lancashirecare.nhs.uk.