Today, women with children are the fastest-growing segment of the workforce. Nearly 55% of women with children under the age of 3 are employed. In the United States, more than 70% of all new mothers today choose to breastfeed to give their babies important nutrition and health benefits.
But unfortunately, 43% of women leave the workforce within three months of childbirth. Why?
Many new moms who want to continue providing breast milk to their babies feel they’re not getting the right support and products to meet their needs when they return to work. As a result, they are unable to meet their breast milk feeding goals and may leave their jobs after giving birth.
There is a business case for breastfeeding. Employees of companies with lactation support programs have seen a 94.2% retention rate (in comparison to the 59% national average). Furthermore, employees whose companies provide breastfeeding support consistently report improved morale, better satisfaction with their jobs, and higher productivity.
Employers are also missing the impact of breastfeeding mothers in the workplace… and on America’s healthcare system. Breast milk saves health systems and taxpayers over $1.6 million annually. According to Medela, breast milk reduces risks of four of the most common and costly childhood conditions in the first year of life. Reducing these costs not only benefit the parents but also the employer, as they’re often the highest per-case costs for Medicaid and commercial insurance.
Disposable medical supplies provider Byram Healthcare commissioned a survey of working mothers who have recently or are currently breastfeeding. The results found that access to a breast pump made it possible for women to return to work (63%) and continue to advance their careers (36%). The survey also debunked the myth of what most mothers do while pumping at work. It is not downtime for most working moms, rather 55% have checked work emails, and 52% even conducted a conference call.
All of these factors have increased the number of breastfeeding startups and non-profit organizations committed to supporting breastfeeding at work, for not only the working mother but the employer as well.