Vermont Employers Encouraged To Be Breastfeeding Friendly

For immediate release: May 9, 2002

Contact: Karen Flynn
Breastfeeding Project Coordinator
802-652-4171

Vermont health and employer groups have joined together to promote breastfeeding friendly workplaces.

The Vermont Breastfeeding Friendly Employer Project is designed to help employers develop policies that enable women to provide their babies with the benefits of breast milk through age 1. It also offers formal recognition to employers who do so.

When it’s time to return to work, many new mothers find it difficult to continue breastfeeding their baby for a full year.

“Breastfeeding for the first 12 months gives babies the healthiest start in life,” said Dr. Jan K. Carney, Vermont health commissioner. “But since so many new mothers return to work during their baby’s first year, keeping up with breastfeeding can be a real challenge.”

In Vermont, about 60 percent of women breastfeed their baby at birth. However, within six months after the baby is born, only about 30 percent of mothers are still breastfeeding.

“A woman’s decision to continue breastfeeding often depends on workplace conditions.” Carney said.

That’s why the Health Department and Vermont business groups are working together to help workplaces become more breastfeeding friendly.

“A breastfeeding friendly workplace is good for mothers, good for babies and good for business,” said Maxine Brandenburg of the Vermont Business Roundtable. “More and more workplaces are recognizing the health benefits of breastfeeding and are supporting the efforts of their female employees to provide the healthiest start for their new babies.”

Studies have shown that the benefits of supporting breastfeeding mothers who are returning to the workplace include reduced health care costs and absenteeism, increased retention, improved employee morale, and positive employer-community relations.

“Vermont Mutual is a family-oriented company with many young employees” said Julia Morgan, Vice President of Human Resources at Vermont Mutual Insurance Company. “The company supports those employees who choose to breastfeed their babies by offering a room, refrigeration and time away from their desk to pump.

“We feel this is a win-win situation for employees, their infants and the company,” Morgan said.

Joining the Health Department and the Business Roundtable in supporting thr project are the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, the Vermont Department of Economic Development, the Vermont League of Cities and Towns and the Vermont Department of Personnel.

The project was developed in response to a recommendation by the Breastfeeding Study Commission established by the Vermont Legislature in 2000.

Details are posted on the Health Department’s website, at www.HealthyVermonters.info/cph/hbkf/bfeeding/friendly.shtml