The Business Case
It's not just the right thing to do-it's also smart for your business.
By supporting lactation at work, employers can:
- Retain experienced employees.
- Lower recruitment and training costs.
- Reduce sick time taken by parents for a child's illness.
- Boost morale and productivity.
- Reduce health-care and insurance costs.
Breastfeeding employees miss work less often.
That's because breastfed infants are healthier! Human milk boosts an infant's immune system and helps protect from childhood illnesses, infections, and chronic conditions. For infants in child care settings, where they are exposed to a multitude of germs and viruses, the protection that human milk provides becomes even more important. Parents - both mothers and fathers - whose infants are breastfed miss work less often. One-day absences to care for sick children occur more than twice as often for mothers of formula-fed infants.10 For infants who are exclusively breastfed according medical recommendations, the protective effects of breastfeeding appear to continue long after breastfeeding has ended.
Breastfeeding lowers health-care costs.
The reduced health-care costs for breastfed infants translate into lower medical insurance claims for businesses. Babies who are not breastfed visit the doctor more often, spend more days in the hospital, and require more prescriptions than breastfed infants. One study found that for every 1,000 babies not breastfed, there were 2,033 extra doctor visits, 212 extra hospitalization days, and 609 extra prescriptions for three types of illness alone - ear, respiratory, and gastrointestinal infection.11 These numbers don't include the risks of other childhood illnesses and conditions or diseases in mothers, such as breast cancer, which are increased when a mother does not breastfeed.6
Companies that provide comprehensive onsite lactation-support programs enjoy additional health-care cost savings. That's because these programs encourage employees to exclusively breastfeed (to feed their babies nothing but breastmilk) for the first six months and to continue to breastfeed through the first year of life and beyond, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.4 When programs include breastfeeding education and other offerings, greater health advantages and cost savings are realized through improved breastfeeding rates.
Breastfeeding lowers turnover rates.
Employees are more likely to return to work after childbirth, return from leave sooner, and remain in the same job position longer when their workplace provides a supportive environment for continued breastfeeding. Being able to keep experienced employees after giving birth means lowering or eliminating the costs a business would incur to hire temporary staff or to recruit, hire, and train replacement staff. Both options involve additional lost revenue while getting new staff up to speed. One study of several companies with lactation programs showed a retention rate of 94.2% as compared to the national average of only 59%.12 A New Zealand study estimated $75,000 in savings for each employee who returns to work after maternity leave.13
Breastfeeding boosts productivity and loyalty.
Employees whose companies provide breastfeeding support consistently report improved morale, better satisfaction with their jobs, and higher productivity.14 The support also eases their transition back to work and enables new mothers to return from maternity leave sooner.
This information adapted from the Business Case for Breastfeeding, published in 2008 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
Lactation programs are cost-effective, showing a 3-to-1 return on investment.3
I can say that our lactation room has paid for itself as far as Children's Courtyard is concerned.
CIGNA's lactation support program resulted in an annual health-care savings of $240,000, 62% fewer prescriptions, and $60,000 savings in reduced absenteeism.15
I am a lactation consultant in a Baby Friendly Hospital.