Schools across the country are making news and not for student learning. Instead, these stories have exposed the fact that most schools don’t provide appropriate breast pumping accommodations for their breastfeeding teachers. Given that more than 75% of all teachers are women, and almost half of those are under the age of 40, it's a huge problem when the professionals--whose job it is to teach, nurture, and inspire children--are not supported in their own workplace.
All breastfeeding moms need support, but when breastfeeding mamas go back to work they need two very specific kinds of support: time and a clean, private space to pump.
Breastfeeding women are following the health recommendations to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months (for 12 months if possible), but the stark reality is that the vast majority of working mothers in America still lack the support they need to continue breastfeeding. According to Ovia Health’s “Motherhood in America” report, 70% of moms want better breastfeeding support and 29% of women who returned to work report not feeling supported at all by their employer.
Providing breastfeeding employees with a clean and private place to pump is not only the right thing to do, it’s also the best thing to do when it comes to recruiting and retaining female employees. A report from The United States Office of Personnel Management found that employers who implement lactation workplace programs have a 94% retention rate of female employees, compared to the national average of 59%. In addition, workplaces that provide support for their breastfeeding employees benefit from greater employee loyalty and improved overall morale. Supporting breastfeeding employees is a win for everyone and ensures healthy babies, happy mamas, and successful workplaces.
Schools support and celebrate student success, so it’s time they also supported and celebrated their teachers. The school day is busy and teachers are even busier, but providing a dedicated space to pump milk signals that schools are fully committed to the wellbeing and wellness of children from day one.