Why companies should give breastfeeding breaks

From legal obligations to social responsibilities, there are many reasons why employers should consider giving the time and space to new nursing mothers to breastfeed at work.

It might be the law

For employers in many countries, it’s obligatory to give breaks to nursing mothers. The conditions of such laws vary. For example, they can be paid or unpaid and the time in which a mother is entitled to such breaks (e.g. until the baby is 6 or 9 months old) is different from country to country. The World Policy Analysis Center provides an overview of the legislation around the world.

It’s healthy

Breastfeeding has many health benefits, which is why the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. It isn’t only healthier for the child, reducing child mortality, it has health benefits for the mum as well. These include a lower risk of disease, mortality and of developing different types of cancer. Allowing breastfeeding breaks can therefore form a strategy in health promotion at the workplace, which will give a fit and healthy team in return.

Less stress

For many women, becoming a mother and going back to work is stressful. Making work a safe place to continue breastfeeding helps many new mothers to cope better and feel less emotionally overwhelmed and stressed. Less stress doesn’t only mean a healthier employee, it will improve her work performance too.

Break taboos

Besides all the health reasons, there’s a social responsibility too. In international organisations, it’s likely that there are different stances among employees towards breastfeeding, especially when it’s done in public. In some cultures, it’s in fact discouraged or even criminalised. Of course, local laws should be obeyed, but allowing nursing or pumping at the workplace can be a first step to breaking taboos and the sexualisation of breastfeeding.