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Breastfeeding at work, making it work

Mothers and babies proudly took to breastfeeding in public on the weekend with Big Latch On events across the Waikato. The event launched International Breastfeeding Week for 2015 which is themed “Breastfeeding at work, making it work” and aims to highlight the benefits of breastfeeding in the workplace.

This year we wanted to feature some community organisations that are pioneering breastfeeding at work and in the community.

Decypher interpreter coordinator and new mum Navjot Kaur:

Navjot and her 10 month old son in the breastfeeding room at Decypher.

Navjot and her 10 month old son in the breastfeeding room at Decypher.

As a new mother I always thought that keeping up with breastfeeding while working was not an easy task. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and probably luck to make it happen. Someone once told me that I have to choose either breastfeeding or bottle feeding; there is no room for both. For me it felt like if I work outside home I won’t be able to breastfeed my baby after maternity leave.

But things turned up so differently in my case. I feel blessed saying this. My workplace and co-workers make me feel grateful to have an option of nursing my baby even though I am working full time. Expressing at work every three hours during an eight hours work day has really helped build my supply up. I am very thankful to my manager Leanne Salisbury and HMS Trust for being so generous and supportive to me all the time. I am provided with a separate room for expressing and great flexibility to attend Plunket and medical appointments of my baby. My co-workers have adjusted a lot too by covering me when I am away to attend those appointments.

Population Health health promoter Jo Cottrell and breastfeeding support counsellor Patricia Novoa have been a great inspiration to me whenever I asked for advice or ideas.

I think breastfeeding is a blessing. Every mother should experience and enjoy this beautiful phase of motherhood.

Decypher business manager Leanne Salisbury:

It has been a pleasure to support my colleague, Navjot to continue breastfeeding once she returned to work from maternity leave.

Decypher business manager Leanne Salisbury in the dedicated breastfeeding room she created for her staff.

Decypher business manager Leanne Salisbury in the dedicated breastfeeding room she created for her staff.

We wanted her to feel supported so created a private room for expressing, but also we have been flexible in allowing her time to go  home to feed her son when he has occasionally required additional feeds.  Supporting Navjot transition into this new phase of  her life has also meant giving her time to attend medical/health appointments with her baby, and for her to talk over the phone  to her carer at home as and when things come up.

As a new mum, it is always hard leaving your baby with a carer when you return to work, so it is important for a mum to  continue to feel part of her baby’s day.  Being able to continue to breastfeed enables a mum to retain one of the vital bonds  with her baby.

The HMS Trust has a trained Breastfeeding Support Counsellor who has been available for Navjot when she has needed  advice or ideas about breastfeeding, and several experienced mums and dads in the office are always willing to provide  support or share stories.

Mary Ann in the office where she was able to work and care for her baby at Te Runanga O Kirikiriroa.

Mary Ann in the office where she was able to work and care for her baby at Te Runanga O Kirikiriroa.

Te Runanga O Kirikiriroa finance manager Mary Ann Wilson:

The support that I got from my colleagues and especially from my boss to breastfeed in the office made coming back to work so easy. My boss provided this space for me to come back to work and be here, actually in the room comfortably with my baby while doing my job.

I am not from New Zealand, originally I am from the Philippines but I have worked here for 15 years so this really is my second home and second family so after I had my baby there was such an urge to get back to work and also see my colleagues.

Before I went on maternity leave my boss came and sat beside me and said when I came back I could have her office. She gave me her bigger office and went to a smaller office just so I could nurse my baby when I returned to work. It really was a big thing and made me feel really valued. That support really makes all the difference.

Te Runanga O Kirikiriroa chief executive Mere Balzer:

There are a number of reasons I support my staff to not only breastfeed at work but bring their babies into the office.  The organisation itself values family and believes family/whanau are integral to the wellbeing of a community, therefore our staff practice has to be congruent with the values of the organisation. But the second reason is having babies and children around changes the ambiance of the office and because we are a social health service I think having babies around makes people more tolerant and nurturing towards each other. That then comes across in the way we approach clients in the community. The other reason is the organisation was set up to meet the social, health, financial and housing needs of people and our staff are people –so it is not just about our outreach but also about meeting our staff’s need.

Mere and Mary Ann in the office set up with cots, play mats and a change table to encourage mothers to bring babies into work.

Mere and Mary Ann in the office set up with cots, play mats and a change table to encourage mothers to bring babies into work.

Our staff have a choice they can take a year off and still have their jobs waiting for them or they  can take some time off and bring their babies back into work with them. And that really is the best  practice we can have in supporting mother’s breastfeed their babies.

Whether it be the mother or father that brings that baby to work, other people in the office take  responsibility for that baby too. It creates a culture where people can see past themselves and  take care of others around them.

International Breastfeeding Week runs from August 1-7

Waikato District Health Board proudly supports breastfeeding at work and in the last year has  created a safe space for our staff to breastfeed onsite. We also offer support to patients and staff  through our breastfeeding friendly policies and lactation consultants.

 

 

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