Employers’ guide to help nursing mums

Employers’ guide to help nursing mums

The Health Promotion Board (HPB) has published a guide to advise employers on good practices for staff wanting to breastfeed at work.

Launched last week, it says infants who breastfeed "have fewer intestinal and respiratory infections, are less likely to be hospitalised and have a lower risk of developing certain chronic conditions like obesity".

The guide includes examples of breastfeeding-friendly policies that some companies have adopted, such as setting up nursing rooms and having refrigerated storage for expressed milk.

Developer JTC Corporation, which has offered nursing rooms since 2003, said a family-friendly environment is a "critical factor in the attraction of talent".

However, not all companies have been as thoughtful.

One mother told The Straits Times how she was forced to use a storeroom to express breast milk. She said her trips to the storeroom irritated her manager who would "pick on her more".

Later, a small room within the office pantry became the "unofficial pump room". Even then, the frowns from her boss and demands of motherhood and work left her drained. Ten months into juggling her breastfeeding needs and job, she left her research assistant position to be a full-time mother.

That was two years ago. Now planning for a second child and working in a different industry, the 27-year-old said she hopes workplaces will adopt the good practices in the guide.

Hard copies are being distributed via NTUC to its unionised companies. The guide was launched in tandem with World Breastfeeding Week, from Aug 1 to 7.

A survey last year showed 99 per cent of mothers here try breastfeeding, but nearly half of working mothers give up to return to work.

"Amy", a 37-year-old PR manager, stopped breastfeeding her first child upon returning to work from maternity leave. She said: "Pumping is a very tough thing to undertake for an extended period of time. Without the support of employers, you can get discouraged."

hpeishan@sph.com.sg

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