By LISA McCLOSKEY
Special to the Sun-Gazette
The Lycoming Clinton Breastfeeding Coalition (LCBC) recognizes Susquehanna Health, STEP Inc. and Jersey Shore Hospital for supporting breastfeeding mothers in the workplace.
Susquehanna Health will receive the Gold Award for the highest level of employee lactation support. Step Inc. and Jersey Shore Hospital will be presented the silver award for excellence in this important employee benefit during the month of August as part of a celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, Wednesday through Aug. 7.
Through lactation support, breastfeeding employees can successfully merge their important priorities of family and work.
In addition, the coalition recognizes the necessary support of supervisors and co-workers.
Breastfeeding is recommended by all major medical organizations as the optimal way to feed infants because of its significant health advantages. Breastfeeding is also healthier for mothers by contributing to lower rates of breast cancer and improving recovery from pregnancy.
On Jan. 20, 2011, Dr. Regina Benjamin, surgeon general of the United States, issued a call to action to support breastfeeding.
"Everyone can help make breastfeeding easier," she said. "Many barriers exist for mothers who want to breastfeed. They shouldn't have to go it alone. Whether you're a clinician, a family member, a friend, or an employer, you can play an important part in helping mothers who want to breastfeed."
Dr. Ralph Kaiser, medical director of the Susquehanna Community Health and Dental Center, said during
his 40 years of pediatric practice, he found that breast-fed babies have a much lower incidence of food allergies and intolerances.
"Babies who have been exclusively breast-fed for at least six months also have less obesity as older children. I believe the benefits of breast feeding persist long after babies are weaned," he said.
Breastfeeding can translate into positive benefits for companies, including lower health care costs.
Supporting employees is good for business and directly affects the bottom line.
A lactation support program helps employees continue breastfeeding through the first year after birth and has proven employer benefits in the way of:.
Lower health care costs
Lower turnover rates
Lower absenteeism rates
Higher employee productivity and morale
Positive public relations in the community as a "family friendly" business.
A lactation support program can be implemented inexpensively.
Simple components to help comply with federal law include providing a private place to express milk during work hours and allowing for a flexible schedule to express milk two or three times a day during breaks.
For assistance from LCBC to develop a lactation support program, contact Betsy Huff at BiCounty WIC at 322-7656 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To access a tool kit entitled, "The Business Case for Breastfeeding," visit www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/government-in-action/business-case-for-breastfeeding.