Overcoming The Stress of Breastfeeding In The Workplace

Evidence is mounting that the challenges of breastfeeding at work can have negative consequences for mother and baby.

A recent survey of working mothers published on Medium found that new moms give up breastfeeding sooner than they would like, as a result of the stresses of being back at work. One mother responded that “My milk production went down pretty drastically, and that was really stressful for me.”

Her experience is in line with academic research showing that moms who work, especially full time, breastfeed their babies for less time than those who don’t. Some women who weren’t provided with private pumping areas resorted to pumping in toilet stalls at their place of employment, resulting in premature weaning. The research also showed that providing women with pumping equipment increases breastfeeding duration after they return to work.

Adding lactation support boosts employee retention by 27%, according to the study. 

As a physician, I watch so many of my patients struggle with the transition back to work after having a baby -- the lack of sleep, the challenge of balancing career with a newborn, and of course, the demands of breastfeeding, which often requires juggling a work schedule around pumping sessions. - Stephanie Canale, MD, Lactation Lab Founder

Companies such as Hulu, Zappos and Zillow have taken note that less than two thirds of new moms return back to the workplace after childbirth, and are adding resources such as Lactation Lab,Milk Stork or Mamava Pod to support them.  Mamava provides private pods for pumping and breastfeeding mothers. Milk Stork enables moms to get their breast milk home when they’re away on business.

Lactation Lab helps working moms, who often see more challenges in milk volume and quality, by finding solutions that enable them to breastfeed their babies for longer.

As a result, new moms don’t have to choose between their career and their commitment to breastfeeding. This in turn helps businesses keep some of their best and brightest on staff. 

The World Health Organization recommends babies consume only breast milk for the first six months of life and ideally up to one year after complementary foods are introduced. And studies show that when mom is less stressed and supported, she is more likely to breastfeed for longer.