How to Support Breastfeeding Moms in Construction

As the amount and importance of women in the construction workforce continues to grow, a proactive plan addressing breastfeeding moms’ needs will put a company in a favorable position to not only attract, but also retain top talent.
By Jennifer Jordan
July 17, 2018

As the workplace evolves, women continue entering typically male-dominated industries such as construction. Therefore, it will benefit every employer to look at how they are supporting women—specifically breastfeeding moms—in the workplace. A solid, well-thought-out plan will not only result in happier, more productive employees, but it could actually save the business money.

Employer Breastfeeding Laws

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers with 50 or more workers are required by law to provide eligible mothers with reasonable break time to express breast milk for their children for up to one year after giving birth. They must also provide a space other than a bathroom to express milk in that must be private and free from intrusion of the public and coworkers.

All businesses, including the construction industry, must comply with these provisions—unless businesses with less than 50 employees can demonstrate that doing so would impose an undue hardship.

Proven Benefits of Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers

Industries across the board, from white collar to blue collar professions, are seeing returns as high as three to one on their investments in supporting their breastfeeding moms.

Also, moms who can continue their breastfeeding goals are healthier. It allows them to more quickly recover from childbirth, so they’re able to return to work sooner. Healing faster can also help moms prepare to handle the physically demanding duties at jobsites more quickly, so less time is spent without a dedicated worker.

Multiple studies have shown the health benefits of breast milk for babies. Mothers who breastfeed often have much lower rates of absenteeism because their babies are sick less often. One survey found 40 common illnesses were only found in 25 percent of exclusively breastfed babies, while they were found in 75 percent of all other participating babies.

Employers who support lactating moms also experience savings in healthcare costs, as breastfed infants usually average about $400 in prescription costs. However, after implementing a breastfeeding support program, a leading employer saw a 62 percent drop in prescriptions and a 77 percent reduction in lost work time due to infant illness.

Family friendly environments create a sense of welcoming that makes moms more likely to return to work with more productivity, because supported moms are happier. Once they feel encouraged to continue breastfeeding, they work harder and have a stronger sense of loyalty.

As a result, turnover rates are lowered, and more work can be performed at project sites, instead of everything having to be put on hold due to needing to replace a key position.

How to Create a Breastfeeding Space

Many construction sites require moms to travel and work at outdoor sites, imposing the issue of where to create a lactation room with limited resources available. However, providing a private space can be achieved.

Consider creating a private breastfeeding room as part of an onsite construction trailer to accommodate new moms, which can be easily outfitted with a chair, flat space, and accessories to help mom successfully and comfortably pump. If no space is available, there are several alternative options, such as popup tents, that can be explored. Keep in mind, nearby access to water is optimal for hand washing.

Other solutions include having the caregiver bring the baby to the mother for feedings, or using a lactation room provided by a nearby business. Employers can use apps such as pumpspotting to find local lactation rooms and can always connect with other business owners to discuss joint space.

Experience the Benefits of Supporting Moms

Although there may be unique challenges in providing a breast pumping space in a construction environment, the benefits that come with it will be more than worth it. The ROI of supporting breastfeeding moms will offset the costs of implementing a breastfeeding program with savings found in a lowered turnover rate, fewer absences and significantly reduced health care costs.

As the amount and importance of women in the construction workforce continues to grow, and employment roles diversify, a proactive plan addressing breastfeeding moms’ needs will put a company in a favorable position to not only attract, but also retain top talent.

by Jennifer Jordan
Jennifer Jordan is the Director of Mom & Baby at Aeroflow Healthcare, a durable medical equipment provider that has provided breast pumps through insurance to hundreds of thousands of women. A working and once-breastfeeding mom, Jennifer—along with her team—is committed to supporting all moms on their breastfeeding journey through support, education and exceptional customer service.

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