Weld RE1 School District Recognized for Supporting Breastfeeding Staff

Published on February 28, 2023

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Weld County, Colorado — Re-1 School District is making it easier for working moms to continue nursing their baby after returning from maternity leave. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend families breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first six months and continue breastfeeding while introducing nutritious foods for at least a year and for as long as the mother and baby desire. Breastfeeding provides numerous health benefits for both the mom and baby. Breastfed babies have a 50% reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome and have less risk for developing certain cancers, diabetes, and obesity later in life. Mothers who breastfeed are at decreased risk for developing ovarian cancer and diabetes and have an easier time getting back to their pre-pregnancy weight. However, the benefits are dose dependent. Sadly, most families do not breastfeed long enough to achieve all the associated health benefits due to barriers to breastfeeding, including barriers in the workplace. With support from the Weld County Health Department, Re-1 School District recently established designated lactation rooms in all six of their schools. Each room has a comfortable nursing chair, privacy partition, sound machine, end table, and a refrigerator for storing the breast milk. "I have seen firsthand the difference worksite lactation support makes for morale", said John Reid, Wellness Liaison for Re-1. "Without a comfortable lactation room, and adequate break time to express milk during their work shift, combining nursing and work isn’t possible", said Reid. Employers are realizing lactation support policies not only increase employee satisfaction, but also make good business sense due to the savings from reduced absenteeism. Employees who formula feed their baby on average are absent twice as frequently as those who breastfeed. Federal and Colorado law requires employers to provide reasonable break time and a private area, other than a toilet, to express breast milk for her nursing child. The Weld County Health Department and Northern Colorado Breastfeeding Coalition offer technical and financial assistance for employers to establish lactation areas and recognize worksites with a framed certificate and promote the business as "breastfeeding friendly" on social media. For information on best practices for supporting nursing employees at work, visit www.weldhealth.org.