Break Rooms With Breast Pumps

Why pumping on the job is about to become easier

Breast-feeding is great for the baby, but not always easy on the mom—especially if she works. But thanks to new health-care policy, the workplace is about to become more breast-feeding friendly.

The surgeon general is issuing a call Thursday to eliminate obstacles to breast-feeding, and working moms may already be seeing the first steps: The new health-care law requires that many employers start offering “reasonable” break times to pump milk and a private place to do it. No, the company bathroom no longer counts.

Three-quarters of American mothers say they breast-feed during their baby’s first days and weeks. But within six months that drops: to 43 percent who are breast-feeding at least part of the time, and just 13 percent who follow recommendations that babies receive breast milk exclusively during that period.

“The hardest thing is to keep it up, because our society and our culture aren’t there to support them,” Surgeon General Regina Benjamin said.

Research has long made clear the benefits of breast-feeding. Breast-fed babies suffer fewer illnesses such as diarrhea, earaches, and pneumonia, and are less likely to develop asthma, or even to become fat later in childhood. Nursing mothers shed pregnancy pounds faster, and if they breast-feed long enough can decrease their risk of breast or ovarian cancer.

AOL has already created “mothers’ rooms” at its 15 offices. These nursing rooms are quiet and come stocked with two breast pumps so employees don’t have to lug gear to and from work. They also offer employees access to lactation consultants.

So, Philly moms: Would you be more apt to breast feed if you knew it would be more doable once you returned to work?