Industry call for Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplaces

Posted by Josette Dunn on 2nd August 2010

Australia’s largest manufacturing industry – the $100 billion food and grocery sector – will be encouraged to establish breastfeeding-friendly areas for mothers who return to work.As part of World Breastfeeding Week 2010, the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) and the Infant Nutrition Council today urged members to allocate designated areas in their workplaces to increase the number of women who breastfeed their babies.

Infant Nutrition Council CEO Jan Carey said the establishment of breastfeeding rooms would allow mothers to continue to give their babies the vital nutrition that breastfeeding provides after they return to the workforce.

According to Ms Carey, a quarter of women return to work before their baby is six months old and around 40 per cent when their baby is aged one.

“Many women would like to continue to breastfeed once they go back to work but wean their babies early as their workplaces don’t have suitable areas to either breastfeed or express,” Ms Carey said. “Research shows that mums who are able to express at work manage to breastfeed for longer than mothers who don’t have the same opportunity.”

Ms Carey said the wider vision of both the Infant Nutrition Council and AFGC was to not only encourage their members to make it easier for women to continue to breastfeed, but to call on other industries to follow.

Ms Carey said the Infant Nutrition Council – whose members include infant formula manufacturers – had already endorsed the proposal and were working towards establishing breastfeeding-friendly areas in their workplaces.

AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell said Australia’s food and grocery manufacturing industry was leading the way on many health and workplace issues including having appropriate facilities for mothers to breastfeed.

“Breastfeeding is the most nutritious and healthiest feeding method for babies and it should be encouraged,” Ms Carnell said.

“Evidence shows that by supporting employees to breastfeed at work, companies not only assist in increasing the nutritional benefits to the baby but provide benefits to the business include reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and better employee engagement.”