Population Health
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Healthy Populations


SWSLHD Breastfeeding and Employment Policy
Breastfeeding has many benefits for both infants and mothers. These include a reduction in serious illnesses such as gastroenteritis for infants, as well as protection from chronic disease later in life such as overweight and obesity. For mothers, breastfeeding promotes faster maternal recovery from childbirth and reduces the risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Exclusive breastfeeding of infants is therefore recommended for the first six months of life.

However, returning to work can be a significant barrier to breastfeeding for many women.

The Health Promotion Service worked with the SWSLHD Promoting Protecting and Supporting Breastfeeding in SWSLHD Committee, Human Resources and managers to develop and implement a workplace policy. The Breastfeeding and Employment policy supports and promotes breastfeeding at work. Under the policy, breastfeeding employees are entitled to a paid lactation break, flexible working hours and access to a private space to breastfeed or express milk. The policy is consistent with the NSW Policy Directive, Breastfeeding in NSW: Promotion, Protection and Support.
The SWSLHD is one of only two LHDs in NSW to fully implement the Breastfeeding and Employment policy in line with the NSW Policy Directive.

More Information
Contact Danielle Weber on 02 8738 5825 or email Danielle.Weber@sswahs.nsw.gov.au

Health Promotion - Healthy Populations - BreastfeedingHealth Promotion - Healthy Populations - Breastfeeding

The Breastfeeding and Work Study

Health Promotion - Healthy Populations - BreastfeedingPrior to the adoption of the Breastfeeding and Employment Policy, the Health Promotion Service conducted a baseline survey in Sydney and South Western Sydney Local Health Districts of employees who had taken maternity leave in 2008/09. The survey investigated breastfeeding practices at work and the perceived level of support from the organisation to breastfeed.

The survey revealed that

  • 60% of women intended to breastfeed when they returned to work, but only 40% did, thus indicating that returning to work was one of the main reasons women ceased breastfeeding
  • Support to combine breastfeeding and work came mainly from family and partners (74% and 83% respectively), with little perceived support from the organisation (13%) and human resources (6%)
  • Most women (92%) had received no information from their managers about their breastfeeding options upon their return to work, and few had access to a room specially designated for breastfeeding (19%)
  • Flexible work options and lactation breaks, as well as access to a private room, were identified as the main factors that facilitated breastfeeding at work.

Health Promotion - Healthy Populations - BreastfeedingA post policy survey has now been undertaken of female employees who have taken maternity leave. The post policy survey aims to determine changes in breastfeeding practices and perceptions of support since the introduction of the Breastfeeding and Employment policy. Results from the survey are currently being analysed.

More Information
Contact Danielle Weber on 02 8738 5825 or email Danielle. Danielle.weber@sswahs.nsw.gov.au


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Page last updated: 02 May, 2016
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