Editorial: Why we need to support breastfeeding mothers in the workplace

'Parents who breastfeed should never have to pump in the washroom,' nurse clinician says

Eliminating discrimination is part of the fight for gender equality. Yet even though it’s 2018, breastfeeding – a natural thing mothers do to feed their babies – is still stigmatized, especially in the workplace. A 2012 survey published on Bloomberg reveals that 62 per cent of pregnant women think there’s a stigma attached to parents who breastfeed at work.

According to the Ontario Human Rights Commision policy, “No one should stop a mother from breastfeeding her child, ask her to cover up or move her to another place.” It is the mother’s right to breastfeed in public.

Michael Garron Hospital leads Ontario’s Baby-Friendly Initiative implementation strategy, which promotes breastfeeding. Linda Young, director of provincial breastfeeding programs at the East York hospital, says it’s important for workplaces to offer support for breastfeeding moms. For example, employers should provide access to a refrigerator where mothers can store the milk until they go home, she said. Employers should also understand that the pumping schedule of a breastfeeding parent will require her to take more breaks.

Providing clean, appropriate and private areas for breastfeeding parents to pump at work is vital in making the workplace breastfeeding-friendly.

“Parents who breastfeed should never ever have to pump in the washroom,” said Leigh Baetz-Craft, advance practice nurse clinician at Michael Garron Hospital. “What we always say is, ‘Would you eat your lunch sitting on the toilet?’”

Breastfeeding has health benefits for both the mother and baby. For instance, breastfed babies and mothers are less likely to develop health problems, such as diabetes and certain cancers. It’s also a convenient and inexpensive way for mothers to nourish their babies.

Unfortunately, many mothers feel discouraged about continuing to breastfeed because in some places, there’s still lack of support and awareness. It’s important to recognize that breastfeeding is a human right.

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Posted: Nov 5 2018 11:20 am
Filed under: Opinion