I was at the Within Reach luncheon last week and was inspired by their work. If you haven’t heard about this organization, they are right there on the front lines connecting families to the programs and services they need: health care, nutrition and food resources, childcare, and immunizations. Many of their families have been hit hard by the downturn in the economy, and are needing support for the very first time and have no idea where to turn. Within Reach is doing great, necessary work to promote maternal, child and family health – check them out.
While I was at the luncheon, I sat next to Michele McGraw from the Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington. We had a wonderful talk about breastfeeding in the workplace. There’s no denying the benefits of breastfeeding, but there are many obstacles to it, and one of the top obstacles is when mom goes back to work. Many workplaces are not set up for pumping breastmilk at work or if a process is in place, it is often for one or two specific mothers who have asked for it. Then when those moms are no longer pumping at work, the policy and procedures go away. There’s no organizational support for it, and it seems to be too much work for employers.
To respond to this, the Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington is creating information packets for employers to not only accomodate breastfeeding moms, but to see the benefits to themselves for supporting it. A baby who is fed breastmilk is less likely to be sick, which means that mother will be at work rather than at home caring for a sick baby. Also women who are committed to breastfeeding but find that the workplace doesn’t accommodate that might find that it’s easier to take a different job or quit altogether, requiring that employer to hire and train a new employee. By presenting the benefits to employers as well as tried-and-true methods for making it work and sample policies to adopt with minimal expense or disruption to the workplace, the Breastfeeding Coalition is supporting more employers to make the transition to breastfeeding-friendly workplaces, and in the end, that benefits everyone.
I was so excited about the work of both of these terrific organizations and wanted to share them with you!
On another note, Michele works at Birth and Beyond in Seattle, and she told me about their Sunday Socials gatherings for birth professionals to meet and greet on a bimonthly basis. Any of you birth professionals who are interested in meeting others of like mind, we hope to see you there at the next Sunday Social on Sunday, June 13 from 3-5pm. Open Arms will be a “featured business” on that day, and our board treasurer Sarah Pulliam will do a brief introduction about Open Arms. Hope to see you there.