Originally published Aug. 22, 2011
When Dinisha Rogers returned to work after having her first child, she was dedicated to continue breastfeeding her baby. Instead of being nervous about having the conversation with her supervisor, she was happy to know her workplace supported moms who pump breast milk while at work.
Rogers, who works as a Nutrition Manager for the Georgia WIC Program in District 3-4 (Gwinnett, Newton, and Rockdale Counties) knew from the moment she was pregnant she was going to breastfeed her baby. “Breastfeeding was going to be the best food for our family nutritionally, economically and environmentally, but I also knew I would be facing some challenges as a full-time working mother.”
Several women who breastfeed don’t realize they have the right to nurse at work. And for those who do, it can be very difficult or embarrassing to bring up the topic.
A few months before Rogers left on maternity leave, she talked with her supervisor about her need to take breaks during the day to express milk. The supervisor worked with Rogers to figure out the best way to accommodate her needs.
Georgia’s law on Breastfeeding is clear: A mother is entitled to breastfeed her child in any location in which the mother is authorized to be. Georgia Code 31-1-9 (1999).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breastfeeding reduces a baby’s odds of becoming overweight by more than 30 percent. Research shows that the earlier a baby stops breastfeeding elevates the baby’s risk is of many diseases, including obesity, ear infections, diarrhea, and pneumonia. The earlier a mother stops breastfeeding, she raises her risk of chronic diseases such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and diabetes, according to researchers - All reasons why the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) offers something unique.
DPH supports breastfeeding in the workplace and has designed a private lactation room for breastfeeding mothers. Located on the 11th floor of the 2 Peachtree Street Tower, the room features two hospital-grade electric pumps, two private pumping stations, and a mini-refrigerator where mothers can store their breastmilk for the day. In addition, two certified lactation specialists are available to meet with moms about any breastfeeding or pumping concerns.
“Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to give babies good health,” said Brian Castrucci, Director of the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Program at DPH. “We always want to make it easy for new moms to breastfeed and to enjoy coming back to work.”
“I truly enjoy talking with moms about their pumping experience,” says Marcia Hunter, RN, BSN, IBCLC, MCH’s State Breastfeeding Coordinator. “I have never heard a mom express regret for the effort it took to keep breastfeeding her child.”
Research also shows that companies reap a significant return on their investment when they provide time and space for women to express milk. Moreover, studies show that employees who are able to continue breastfeeding when they return to work have fewer missed workdays for infant illness.
The Georgia Department of Public Health recommends moms feed their babies breast milk alone for the first 12 months and introducing solid foods at approximately 6 months.
There were times when artificial milk seemed like an easier option for Rogers.
“I had to make pumping a priority and set alarms on my cell phone to make sure I pumped during work. It was also important to let my co-workers know about my commitment and the importance of breastfeeding to both me and my daughter. Because of my decision to breastfeed, my baby and I were healthy so I did not have to miss work for doctor’s appointments or sick days out of the office.”