Breaking: Surgeon General wants to improve breastfeeding conditions at work

(ThinkStock Photos)(ThinkStock Photos)
Today, the Surgeon General released new guidelines for making breastfeeding easier. Dr. Regina Benjamin's "Call to Action" urges employers, healthcare workers and community officials to help make nursing easier. "Many barriers exist for mothers who want to breastfeed," states Dr. Benjamin, the third woman ever appointed to Surgeon General. "They shouldn't have to go it alone." It's heartening news for the millions of working women who can't feed their babies on the job, due to lack of privacy and daycare options. The new guidelines urge employers to equip their offices with private breastfeeding rooms, separate from the bathroom. Employees should also be ensured enough break-time for feeding without being penalized. Paid maternity leave and lactation support programs are also recommended. As an incentive, Benjamin suggests the measures will reduce company healthcare costs, turnover rates and absenteeism. But the biggest benefit is for babies, who have a lower risk of infection with breast milk feeding, as compared to formula. The hope is that improved conditions will encourage more women to breastfeed for the first six months of their babies' lives. It's a policy recommended by the World Health Organization, though not easily followed when women return to work.

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