CRYSTAL CITY, Mo. – For decades Mercy Hospital Jefferson has helped bring babies into the world and supported breastfeeding patients. Now Mercy is being recognized for its support of breastfeeding co-workers.
Mercy Hospital Jefferson joins a growing number of businesses as a Missouri Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite, recognized for supporting employees who choose to breastfeed their infants. They offer time, space and other benefits for mothers after they return to work. Employers that provide lactation support 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.
“We encourage breastfeeding as an important step for healthy babies to grow into healthy Mercy Kids,” said Bernadette Hill, RN, nurse manager for the Mother and Child Center at Mercy Jefferson. “We want our new mom co-workers to know we support their decision to continue to nurse their babies as they return to work.”
Co-workers at Mercy Hospital Jefferson receive helpful resources, on-site lactation consultants, individual pumping rooms and a lending library.
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. 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 call the State Breastfeeding Coordinator at 573-526-4792.