This year’s World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) will focus on supporting working women who choose to breastfeed in the workplace. Revisiting the 1993 WBW campaign that focused on the Mother-Friendly Workplace Initiative, the 2015 campaign seeks to review the action taken over the past 22 years to ensure that women have the capability to combine breastfeeding and work.
As more and more women choose to return to part-time or full-time work after their maternity leave has ended, the right to breastfeed in a comfortable and private area at work has become more important now than ever before. At the international level, a revised version of the ILO Convention on Maternity Protection was passed in 2000, providing much stronger maternity entitlements, and more country actions on improving national laws and practices. Here in California, a 2002 resolution mandates that every employer provide a reasonable amount of break time, as well as a private room (that is not a bathroom) for employees desiring to express breast milk. If you have questions about your right to breastfeed in your workplace, feel free to follow up with your Human Resources Department or speak with your physician at Golden Gate.
The benefits of breastfeeding have been well documented, and new moms who choose to exclusively breastfeed should be afforded the option to do so, even once they have returned to work. Breast milk contains antibodies that can protect infants from bacterial and viral infections. Additionally, a baby’s risk of becoming overweight goes down with each additional month of breastfeeding. Women who breastfeed may also have lower rates of certain breast and ovarian cancers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for at least 6 months. After introducing solids, mothers should continue to breastfeed until one year of age, or longer if mutually agreed upon by mom and baby.
Although the benefits of breastfeeding are well documented, certain complications can arise. Thrush is a fungal infection that normally occurs in both breasts, and is associated with sharp shooting internal breast pain and burning nipples. Additionally, if you notice white patches in your baby’s mouth that you cannot scrape off, you should make an appointment to see your pediatrician as your baby may have thrush in their mouth and unknowingly pass it to you during feedings. If diagnosed with thrush early on, anti-fungal nipple cream can be prescribed to resolve the infection; if not, then an antifungal medication may be necessary. Mastitis, an infection associated with breast pain, redness, warmth, fever, body aches, and the feeling of a clogged duct is another common breast infection among postpartum women, and in most cases can be treated with a course of antibiotics.
To avoid these common breast infections, make sure that you are keeping your breasts clean and dry, changing bra pads frequently, and only using warm water to cleanse the area. Additionally, make sure that you are staying very well hydrated and consuming plenty of proteins and complex carbohydrates while breastfeeding.
If you have any concerns about breastfeeding at work, the recommended length of time you should breastfeed your baby, or preventing common breast infections, feel free to speak with your physician during your next appointment. If you experience what you think is a breast infection after hours or during the weekend, we have triage nurses available 24/7 to address your concerns. Please call the main line at 415-666-1250 for any urgent concerns.