Basic Breastfeeding Information

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WIC   I   Returning to Work   I   For Employers   I   Additional Resources

Why is Breastfeeding Important for your Baby?

Breast milk helps keep your baby healthy.

  • It supplies all the necessary nutrients in the proper proportions.
  • It protects against allergies, sickness, and obesity.
  • It protects against diseases, like diabetes and cancer.
  • It protects against infections, like ear infections.
  • It is easily digested – no constipation, diarrhea or upset stomach.
  • Babies have healthier weights as they grow.
  • Breastfed babies score higher on IQ tests.

Breast milk changes constantly to meet babies' needs.

The milk changes in volume and composition according to the time of day, nursing frequency, and age of baby to promote healthy growth. Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby.

Breast milk is always ready and good for the environment.

  • It is available wherever and whenever your baby needs it.
  • It is always at the right temperature, clean and free.
  • No bottles to clean.
  • Breastfeeding has no waste, so it is good for the environment.

Why is Breastfeeding Important for You?

Mothers who breastfeed:

  • Have a reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes and certain cancers such as breast cancer
  • May find it easier to return to what they weighed before they got pregnant
  • Strengthen the bond with their children

Making it Work – You Can Do It!

Some helpful hints:

  • Breastfeed soon after birth and breastfeed frequently 8 to 12 times in a 24 hour period.
  • Hold your baby skin-to-skin.
  • Keep your baby with you in the hospital.
  • Do not give a pacifier or bottle until breastfeeding is well established. Give only breast milk.

For Breastfeeding Mothers Going Back to Work

It will be easier for you to continue breastfeeding if you plan ahead, know what to expect, and develop breastfeeding plans. If possible, return to work gradually; this allows time to adjust and helps your body make a good supply of milk. Talk with your supervisor about different options that may be available to you.

Plan Ahead

Prior to Maternity Leave, talk to your employer about:

  • Having a private and convenient place to pump breast milk.
  • How much maternity leave you are allowed. Maximizing the time available to you will help get breastfeeding off to a good start.
  • Having a reduced schedule for the first few weeks after returning from maternity leave.

Consider using a child care provider close to work so you may be able to visit and breastfeed your baby, depending on your work schedule.

Know What to Expect

Find out how you can continue breastfeeding after you return to work.

For Employers

Employees are more likely to return to work when their workplace provides a supportive environment for continued breastfeeding. Companies who keep their employees after childbirth have the benefit of eliminating the time and cost of hiring and training replacement staff. Providing a supportive work environment for breastfeeding employees improves your employee health benefit package and helps protect your company's investment.

Women with infants and toddlers are the fastest growing segment of the workforce in the United States. To help these women achieve the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that women breastfeed until children are at least one year of age, it is important that businesses attempt to reduce the barriers for employees who choose to breastfeed and work. Employers that make it easy for mothers to continue breastfeeding after returning to work have enjoyed positive results, including lower absenteeism, higher productivity, higher company loyalty, higher employee morale, and lower health care costs.

The following information is helpful to both mothers and employers and will answer questions about current breastfeeding laws:

  • Lactation Accommodation: This law requires all California employers to provide a reasonable amount of break time and make a reasonable effort to provide a private space, other than a toilet stall, close to the employee's work area, to accommodate an employee desiring to express breast milk for her baby. The break time shall be unpaid if the break time does not run concurrently with the rest time authorized for the employee. An employer is not required to provide break time for pumping if taking break time beyond the usual time allotted for breaks would seriously disrupt the operations of the employer. Violation of this chapter is subject to a civil penalty of $100.
  • Breastfeeding at Work: The California legislature encourages the State of California and all California employers to strongly support and encourage the practice of breastfeeding by striving to accommodate the needs of employees, and by ensuring that employees are provided with adequate facilities for breastfeeding, or the expressing of milk for their children; and that the Governor declare by executive order that all State of California employees shall be provided with adequate facilities for breastfeeding or the expressing of milk.
  • Personal Rights: Breastfeeding:This law provides that a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and child are authorized to be present.
  • Jury Service: Breastfeeding:This law exempts breastfeeding mothers from jury duty, and requires the State to take steps to eliminate the need for the mother to appear in court to make this request.

Breastfeeding Information and Support Web Sites