By Meribeth Aldridge, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant
World Breastfeeding Week is a global celebration held the first week in August every year to bring attention and awareness to breastfeeding. The focus of World Breastfeeding Week 2020 is on supporting breastfeeding for a healthier planet. Breastfeeding offers environmental benefits across the world!
Environmental Benefits of Breastfeeding
- Water is not necessary to prepare breast milk
- No packaging is required
- Transport is not needed
- No waste is going into a landfill
All of these benefits translate into fewer carbon emissions, which are responsible for climate change. Breastfeeding conserves resources and energy while bringing health to mothers and babies. When we promote and support breastfeeding, we are also preserving the health of Mother Earth.
Health Benefits of Breastfeeding
According to the World Health Organization, breast milk contains antibodies that help protect against many common childhood illnesses. Breastmilk can even help protect infants from diarrhea and pneumonia, a common cause of child mortality. For mothers, breastfeeding helps reduce their risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and can potentially help space out pregnancies.
Breastfeeding and Employee Engagement
Supporting breastfeeding is also beneficial to employers. Research shows that companies with lactation support programs enjoy an average retention rate of 94 percent. Additionally, absences to care for sick children are twice as high for mothers of formula-feeding infants.
There are a number of ways employers can create a breastfeeding-friendly work environment.
- Develop policies that define breastfeeding accommodations
- Offer a flexible work schedule to accommodate nursing or pumping
- Allow access to baby at work
- Provide a private location, other than a bathroom, that includes a sink where mothers can pump
- Provide access to refrigeration where mothers can store breast milk
- Offer lactation support resources to employees, including access to certified lactation specialists
Support for Breastfeeding in the Workplace, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Supporting Breastfeeding in the Workplace, Association of State Public Health Nutritionists, March 2015