Health Policy–Breastfeeding

The health policies surround breastfeeding leaves much of a loophole for companies to climb though to avoid providing a facility for women to pump With the ACA, it required “employers to provide reasonable break time” and a facility (not bathroom) for mothers to pump. This law is known as “Break Time for Nursing Mothers”. This law only applies to companies with at least 50 employees. However this law does not describe how much time is “reasonable” and what this “facility” is nor what the “facility” would include.

Certainly, we are all aware of the benefits of breastfeeding but having to go back to work makes it nearly impossible to breastfeed. If we first address the “facility”, the law is very vague on what this could possibly entail. It only requires the company to provide a facility. So say we are talking about a woman who works for a big company, hundreds of employees. The company could decide to select a small unused room at the other end of the building as this designated area. Since the law only covers pumping breast milk rather than breastfeeding, the facility should include a way for mothers to store the breast milk, but the law does not include this aspect. Also, the employer is not “required to compensate an employee receiving reasonable break time for any work time spent for such purpose”. So not only can the facility be far away from the mother but the time that the mother is gone could put her work at risk. As an employee, you certainly do not have the leisure to get up and leave for any amount of time whenever you want. If you fear your job being in jeopardy, you might be less inclined to breastfeed.

Many many studies show the potential positive effects breastfeeding has on the mother and child but yet these laws are not supportive of this view. This law, “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” appears to allow for more mothers to breastfeed while working but the law is too broad and not specific enough. It leaves much of the details for the individual companies to interpret. I personally think that more effort should be put to make the laws more rigid and make the companies more accountable so that women can breastfeed during work. I see it with the same as allowing time for people to take breaks to smoke. If the company can allow for this to happen, then certainly they can provide a convenient facility for women to breastfeed and/or pump.

What are your thoughts about this law?

What do you think should be done policy wise to make it easier for mothers to breastfeed/pump while at work?

 

Information about the law:

http://www.dol.gov/whd/nursingmothers/

http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/breastfeeding-state-laws.aspx

Information about breastfeeding:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3020209/

1 thought on “Health Policy–Breastfeeding

  1. This law is a great idea because as we have seen in class just how important breastfeeding is for a mother-child bond. The problem with this law is how capital driven American society is. This deters from productivity, and many would probably take a slippery slope stance that women would take too long, which is bs of course. I also know many companies have dress codes, like the company where I worked, and I am sure they would find some loophole in their code of conduct to fire women over breastfeeding. Side note one woman got fired for joking about drinking in the office on the 4th of July, ridiculous obviously, but telling of the environment of these places. So a major change like this would require intense conversations about the real benefits of breastfeeding I feel like.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.