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Indian Health Service The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives


     Indian Health Manual
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Circular Exhibit No. 06-05-C

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
FOR MANAGERS ESTABLISHING A LACTATION SUPPORT PROGRAM

Q.  Why should we have such a program?

A Lactation Support Program allows management to support breastfeeding in the workplace.  It standardizes options for women in the workplace who are considering infant feeding choices.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), "Enthusiastic support and involvement of all health organizations, especially public health organizations in promotion of breastfeeding and assuring a supportive environment for successful breastfeeding is essential to the achievement of optimal infant and child health, growth, and development."

One out of 3 women return to work within 3 months of giving birth, and 2 out o f 3 women return to work within 6 months of giving birth.  Women with infants and children below the age three are the fastest growing segment of the workforce.  American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) women comprise over 50 percent of the IHS workforce.

Breastfeeding provides the ideal nutrition for infants.  The IHS and HHS have policies to support breastfeeding.  Increasing the rates of breastfeeding is a compelling public health goal, especially for AI/AN women who are less likely to initiate and sustain breastfeeding throughout the infant's first year.

Employers benefit when their employees breastfeed.  Breastfed infants are sick less often; therefore, maternal absenteeism from work is significantly lower in agencies with established breastfeeding friendly programs.  In addition, employer medical costs are lower and employee productivity is higher.

Q.  What if the program does not work?

Seek assistance from your agency's Human Resources department to problem-solve.

Other websites: from agencies that may be helpful to you in developing a successful breastfeeding-friendly work place are the Texas Department of Health Breastfeeding Promotion: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/wichd/lactate/default.shtm Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov and the Oregon Department of Health: http://oregon.gov/DHS/ph/bf/index.shtml Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov .

For more information on breastfeeding promotion policies and programs, call the National Women's Health Information Center's (NWHIC) Breastfeeding Helpline, a project of DHHS, at 1-800-994-9662 or at NWHIC website: http://www.womenshealth.gov/index.html Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov .

Q.  What are the costs of such a lactation support program?

There is minimal costs associated with implementing a lactation support program.  Optimally, you can provide a hospital grade electric pump.  If you and your program are able to provide this equipment, you can find out about breastfeeding resources in the Yellow Pages or through the Le Leche League or IHS Lactation Consultant.

If you elect not to provide a hospital grade electric pump, you can provide accommodations to ensure privacy, a lockable door, accessible electrical outlets for an electric breast pump, a sink close by for hand washing and rinsing out storage containers, a comfortable chair, and a small table.

Q.  How long should we allow a woman to continue to pump in the work setting?

Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, American Academy of Family Practice, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for the first 4-6 months.  The Department of Health and Human Services and IHS encourages all women to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months before introducing solid foods and continue to breastfeed for 12months or longer.

Q.  What should be the responsibility of the worker’s immediate supervisor?

Advocacy for the breastfeeding employee in the work environment and compliance with the Agency lactation support program is the responsibility of the worker’s immediate supervisor and management.

Q.  What union issues might come up?

Indian Health Service Management will satisfy Labor-Relations obligations.

Q.  Is a private place for pumping going to set a precedent for other employee’s to make requests?

Providing a private place for milk expression or pumping is not likely to set new precedents for other employees to make similar requests.  Such accommodations are already currently being met for employee’s short-term needs such as their request for a private place to change clothes for exercise, privacy for diabetes self-management checks and insulin administration.


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