ST. LOUIS - Known for bringing babies into the world and supporting breastfeeding patients, Mercy is now being recognized for the supporting its breastfeeding co-workers. Mercy Hospital St. Louis joined a growing number of Missouri businesses by becoming a Missouri Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite.
Breastfeeding friendly employers proactively support employees who choose to breastfeed their infants. They provide time, space and other benefits to maintain breastfeeding after a mom returns to work. Employers that provide lactation support services report higher employee retention, lower absenteeism, higher morale, greater productivity and reduced health care costs. Many studies have also shown improved short- and long-term health of the breastfeeding mother and her child.
Nursing co-workers at Mercy Hospital St. Louis are provided helpful intranet resources, on-site lactation consultants, individual pumping rooms and a lending library. On-site childcare is also an option for all co-workers.
“We know breastfeeding is important for healthy babies to grow into healthy Mercy Kids and want our new mom co-workers to know we support their decision to continue to nurse their babies as they return to work,” said Emily Combs, RN, nurse manager of Mother-Baby unit at Mercy Hospital St. Louis.
More than 70 percent of Missouri mothers choose breastfeeding as the optimal form of infant feeding. Yet, many of these women do not meet their breastfeeding goals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified returning to work as a major reason why many women stop breastfeeding.
The Missouri Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite Program is a collaboration between the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and the Missouri Breastfeeding Coalition. The program aims to bring an increased awareness about the importance of worksite lactation support. The program recognizes employers with policies supportive of their breastfeeding employees. Such policies provide a flexible work schedule for milk expression breaks; offer a private space, other than a bathroom, where the employee can pump or breastfeed; and ensure easy access to a safe water source and place to store milk.
Missouri Breastfeeding Friendly Worksites represent a wide range of employment sectors, settings and worksite sizes. To be designated as a Missouri Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite, an employer must submit an application to the DHSS. Application materials can be found here. A listing of recognized businesses is available on the Missouri Breastfeeding Coalition’s website, http://www.mobreastfeeding.org/.
For more information on the Missouri Breastfeeding Friendly Worksites Program, visit the program’s website or contact the State Breastfeeding Coordinator at 573-526-4792.