Facilitating breastfeeding & working life
How parents choose to feed their children is a personal decision which is no-one's business but their own. You alone know your unique situation, your own needs and preferences and your baby's needs.
For families who choose to formula feed from the offset, or combi-feed, or parents who choose to stop breastfeeding prior to returning to work, there is no judgement here.
However, if you wish to continue breastfeeding on your return to work, it is your employer's legal duty to actively support you and facilitate this. Despite it being less typical in the UK, the WHO guidance is that mothers should (where possible)
try to breastfeed up to 2 years of age. Natural term breastfeeding is considered between 2-7 years in many areas of the world and so when you consider this it isn't surprising to assume that many women may still be wanting to breastfeed on their return to work, especially with younger infants.
Under the age of 1 year, the primary source of nutrition for an infant is milk (breast or formula). Even with regards to weaned infants, "food is for fun under one" is the commonly quoted adage.
Some women manage to maintain their milk supply adequately by feeding before and after shift work, or feeding more overnight when home from the workplace. For those who work very frequent long days or nightshifts, this is less easy and thus considerations should be given to pumping at work. It is not acceptable for this not to be facilitated and you should be offered planned breaks and a room with a fridge to store breastmilk. This fridge should be solely for breastmilk and separate to facilities used for food or drug storage. Failure to do so opens you the employee up to risks such as blocked ducts and mastitis which is unacceptable.
Each hospital should have a breastfeeding room for staff members to either feed or pump as required. Your local hospital should have a breastfeeding champion you can reach out to if your line manager is not sure.
WGH: Breastfeeding room located directly across from SDEC on Link corridor. Is passcode protected so your line manager may need to request password from site/facilities manager or security in advance.
RIE: Breastfeeding room located on first floor opposite Ward 104. Sited in corridor where doctor's mess situated. Room number is F5508 if you do not have ID card access - email security and ask for this room to be included in your areas of access.
Simpson's Maternity: Multiple breastfeeding rooms on site.
See policy below:
"NHS Lothian aims to support and encourage mothers who wish to breast feed after they return to work. We will:
• Actively support the promotion of breastfeeding amongst staff and patients underpinned by the standards set out in UNICEF Baby Friendly Standards (http://www.unicef.org.uk/BabyFriendly/Resources/Guidance-for-Health-Professionals/Writing-policies-and-guidelines/guide-to-the-baby-friendly-initiative-standards/);
• Provide information about breast feeding for pregnant workers;
• Allow, wherever possible, flexibility in working hours, including regular breaks for employees who wish to breastfeed or express milk;
• Wherever possible and as necessary make available rest areas and dedicated storage space for the use of breastfeeding employees.
All staff are entitled to expect that breast feeding will be facilitated and supported in line with UNICEF Baby Friendly standards and that management inability to make reasonable adjustments should be an exception that is escalated through the appropriate lines. You should contact your manager to discuss your requirement at least 3 weeks before the date from which you will require these facilities. As risk assessment should be carried out for any employee who is breastfeeding."