During National Breastfeeding Month this August, the primary care physicians at Memorial Health University Physicians encourage community members to support nursing mothers.
The recommended period of time for mothers to breastfeed their newborn babies is 12 months, but many women who pump breastmilk in public or in the workplace are met with less-thanaccepting attitudes.
“We have to stop looking at breastfeeding like a meal for baby and start looking at it as the unmatched source of health benefits that it is,” says Candace Murbach, DO, a family medicine physician at Memorial Health University Physicians’ Family Care East 66th St. “We can literally improve millions of lives just by giving new moms and their families our support and understanding for breastfeeding.”
The health benefits to baby are fairly well known – such as decreased risk of infection and childhood obesity – but the health benefits to mothers are often overlooked. Breastfeeding mothers also experience long-term positive impacts from breastfeeding, including a reduced risk of getting certain cancers. These health benefits mean smaller healthcare costs for breastfeeding babies and their mothers. “We recommend moms exclusively feed their babies breastmilk for the first six months after birth,” Murbach says. “We also recommend moms keep breastfeeding, combined with other food sources, for another six months after that.” New moms may quickly realize this isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially when they return to work.
The law in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands specifically asserts that women can breastfeed in any public or private location. The law in the US is that mothers must be allowed reasonable break times and locations (other than bathrooms) to pump breast milk during the work day for up to one year after their child is born. However, the law also states that employers are not required to compensate women for any such breaks. And if the employer has fewer than 50 employees, it is not subject to these requirements.