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Supporting Nursing Mothers

A bottle of milk and pump on a table, with a mother holding her baby in the background.

Editor's note: Two new laws were passed in December 2022 providing protection to all nursing mothers and requiring accommodations for pregnancy- and childbirth-related conditions. See Federal Law Addresses Protections for Nursing and Pregnant Employees for more information.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division and Women’s Bureau announce a series of events to commemorate National Breastfeeding Month and new resources for parents and employers.

August is National Breastfeeding Month, a month dedicated to advancing advocacy, protection, and promotion of breastfeeding to ensure all families have the opportunity to breastfeed.

Virtual Events

Registration is open for the kickoff event Working Mothers: What to Expect from Your Employer When You’re Expecting. This free webinar will be held Wednesday, August 10, 2022, from 12:00 p.m.–1:30 p.m. CDT.  

The webinar will feature representatives from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) who will provide information on federal laws that protect pregnant workers from discrimination, provide time off for birth or adoption of a child, and ensure workers can take breaks to pump breast milk while at work.

This webinar is the first in a series of events that focus on maternal health, explain laws protecting mothers in the workplace, and offer real-world solutions to wage-earning mothers and their employers. A second event, Know Your Rights: FMLA and Nursing Workers will be presented on August 31. Events are free, but registration is required.

Updated Guidance

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently updated their guidance to recommend longer breastfeeding due to the benefits. AAP now supports continued breastfeeding until two years or beyond, as mutually desired by mother and child. The previous recommendation was up to one year or longer of continued breastfeeding.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Breastfeeding Report Card United States, 2020 show that while 84 percent of babies start out being breastfed, only 58 percent are still breastfeeding at six months, and only 35 percent are still breastfed at one year.

Employers’ Responsibilities

Many factors contribute to a mother’s decision to continue or cease breastfeeding. AAP has identified stigma, lack of support, and workplace barriers as major obstacles hindering continued breastfeeding. It’s important for workplaces to ensure they are following laws and policies set in place to support and protect a mother’s ability to express breastmilk in the workplace, should they choose to do so.

More information can be found in the following:

DOL Women’s Bureau director Wendy Chun-Hoo states, “Pregnant and nursing workers should never be forced to choose between their health—or that of their child—and their job.”

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Sarah James
Sarah James
Communications Specialist

Sarah James joined HR Services in 2019. Prior to that, she worked at a Central Texas school district for 11 years. She is responsible for managing web content, HR Services articles, HRX newsletter, social media accounts, and marketing efforts.

James has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Concordia University Texas in Austin.

Email Sarah if you have a story idea for the HRX.

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