According to the CDC, 60 percent of moms stop breastfeeding sooner than they planned because of a lack of support, many because of hardships when returning to the workforce after giving birth.
The new Albany County policy will require all county office buildings to have designated private lactation rooms (separate from a restroom) with an electrical outlet, a chair, a space for belongings, and running water nearby.
“I want to thank our women’s caucus for continuously proposing legislation that addresses the barriers our employees, especially women, face in the workplace,” Albany County Chairman Andrew Joyce stated.
Jillian Carter is the owner of MilkMatters Lactation Consultants and has been an RN since 2008. She said creating lactation rooms and setting precedents for what is required inside of them does more than just “create physical space,” it also makes a statement from the employer about priorities.
“There has been a really positive movement for pumping parents. We have better equipment and better policies than ever before,” Carter said.
She advised parents to know their rights before walking through the door to meet with a boss or HR representative to discuss a pumping plan at work. In New York, you can find a list of “Mothers’ Rights to Breastfeed or Express Milk” on the Department of Health website.
On top of that, Carter said mothers should present a detailed plan with their needs in mind and suggest break times to their employer.
“If you’re just going into them with a blank slate and saying you’re required to provide these accommodations for me, how are you going to make that happen? Sometimes it can be more difficult for them to come up with it when they don’t necessarily know what you need,” Carter said.
Over the past decade, most states have ramped up breastfeeding legislation in the workplace. Policies that remove barriers and protect mothers’ rights hope to correlate with a rise in breastmilk rates in the U.S. According to the CDC, only one in four babies breastfeed as recommended for the first six months because mothers face a lack of support.
Carter said she hopes more employers adopt policies past what is required of them by law because breastfeeding can provide unmatched health benefits for moms and babies alike when it is possible.