Obama Gives National Support to Working Moms Who Breast-Feed

Filed under: In The News, Breast-Feeding

Obama is calling for appopriate accommodations for breast-feeding moms to pump at the office. Credit: Getty

It's not easy being a working mom who wants to breast-feed and transition back into the workplace. Office spaces rarely are conducive to bonding with baby and cranking out work in a cubicle.

But President Obama and the White House are calling for federal personnel officials to draft "appropriate workplace accommodations" for federal employees who are working moms who want to get back to their jobs and continue to nurse their babies, according to a memo issued earlier this week.

The order springs from the new health care reform law passed this year, which mandates new breast-feeding rights primarily for hourly workers and public sectors, The Washington Post reports.

But Obama asked the federal government to go a step further by establishing new guidelines for all federal employees, no matter their status, the Post reports.

Three out of four new American mothers start out breast-feeding, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the number that continues throughout the baby's first year is stagnant and low. Only 43 percent of babies are still breast-fed at 6 months of age, the Center says in a press release.

Advocates have pushed for broader breast-feeding rights in the workplace, arguing that it is an important recruitment and retention tool and helps ensure the health of young babies, the Post reports.

The legislative branch already has breast-feeding policies. In the House, Congressional staffers who are nursing may use special rooms in the Canon House Office Building, after former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi established nursing rooms in 2007. Senate offices and committees also must make breast-feeding accommodations for staffers.

Obama's support of breast-feeding for working moms received rave reviews this week by Valerie Jarrett, senior White House advisor, who writes on her blog:

"We know that breastfeeding provides significant health benefits. It also makes good business sense to provide accommodations for women to breastfeed or express milk at work. Several employers have experienced cost savings and increased productivity from having breastfeeding support programs because parenting employees miss fewer workdays."

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