August is National Breastfeeding Month, and this year Texas WIC has adopted the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action’s theme, “Enabling Breastfeeding: Making a difference for working parents,” to help ensure moms are supported in meeting their breastfeeding goals when returning to the workplace. Factors surrounding return-to-work are often cited for why mothers are unable to meet their breastfeeding goals.
“Employers can make a tremendous difference by creating a welcoming environment that supports a working mother’s needs,” said Lindsey Gray, infant feeding strategist for Texas WIC. “Creating comfortable spaces and flexible schedules to enable mothers to express milk as needed can go a very long way in ensuring they are able to breastfeed for as long as they desire.
“The benefits of this support are profound, as breastfed babies tend to be sick less often, resulting in less absenteeism and reduced health care costs. Mothers also consistently report improved morale and high job satisfaction.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 84% of babies born in Texas in 2019 began breastfeeding, but only 54% continued to be breastfed at 6 months of age, and only 24% received only breastmilk. Factors that influence how long moms breastfeed include lack of support, issues with lactation and latching, concerns about infant nutrition and weight, unsupportive work policies, and lack of parental leave.
The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) operates the Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite Program, which recognizes and provides guidance to businesses that support employees who choose to breastfeed their infants.
A new federal law also ensures more mothers are supported in breastfeeding after their return to work. The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act extends the right to receive break time and a private place to pump to 9 million additional workers.
Texas WIC offers resources for WIC mothers and the community to support breastfeeding mothers returning to the workplace. WIC mothers are eligible for breast pumps and individual support from a peer counselor to help them plan their return. Texas WIC has educational materials available to all moms, including the self-paced class Breastfeeding and Returning to Work, the educational handout Breastfeeding as a Working Mom and back to work information at BreastmilkCounts.com.
In 2022, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its policy statement on breastfeeding. AAP now recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, followed by the inclusion of complementary foods and continued breastfeeding for two years and beyond for as long as desired by mom and baby.
More information and resources about breastfeeding can be found below:
- Texas WIC’s comprehensive breastfeeding website, BreastmilkCounts.com.
- Firsthand information about breastfeeding support from Texas WIC client Jazmin and peer counselor Vanessa.
- WIC’s online classes about breastfeeding, infant care and other topics for parents.
- A database of lactation support groups, classes and personalized counseling is available through community partnerships and WIC clinics across the state.
In partnership with the Texas DSHS Maternal and Child Health program, Texas WIC offers no-cost breastfeeding services for any Texas mother, regardless of WIC enrollment, at five Lactation Support Centers across the state and through the 24/7 Texas Lactation Support Hotline, 855-550-6667.
To learn more, visit the Texas WIC We’re Here to Help webpage.