In March a new law went on the books that requires employers to provide a private room for nursing mothers. We talked to a new working mom and a lactation consultant at Avera McKennan about the importance of this legislation for the thousands of babies in this state.
If you've watched any of our Medical Minutes or What's Going Around Segments on KSFY then you probably recognize Pediatrician Dr. Kara Bruning. Like most women in our area, Dr. Bruning is a busy working mom. As any new mom will tell you going back to work is tough, she hates leaving her little girls Kassie and Lexi, but she says it's especially tough when you are breastfeeding.
Kara says, "Breastfeeding is the absolute best food you can give a baby. It's always the right temperature. It's always right there and babies need the antibodies to fight infections. It is tough when you go back to work. It's really hard because you have to find the time to pump to keep up your milk supply when the baby isn't there."
As a pediatrician Dr. Bruning knows the health benefits of breast milk. As a working new mom Kara applauds the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Obama in March of 2010.
Registered Nurse and Lactation Consultant at Avera McKennan Kathy English has long been an advocate for working new moms to continue feeding their baby's breast milk. She says, "This law gives every woman her legal right to have a pump room provided by her employer. Now she can return to work and not have to worry about where am I going to pump? Is someone going to walk in on me? Or even worse have to use the bathroom. This law specifically states you can't be sent to the bathroom. This is huge for our moms."
Avera McKennan has had a designated pumping room on the 4th floor ever of the hospital ever since the building was built. In 2007 they added more pumping rooms all over the campus. It's private and you need a code to get in so no one is going to barge in on you.
Kathy English says, "This law now gives them clout when they go to their employer. We have 10,000 babies in the state of South Dakota that will be impacted by this law."
Both Kathy and Kara say since South Dakota has the highest percentage of working moms in the country so this law could impact our babies the most. It's intended to encourage new moms to continue breastfeeding for as long as they can, up to a year is recommended. At least now privacy for pumping at work shouldn't be a deterrent.
According to the CDC, the national goal is to increase the number of mothers who breastfeed their babies immediately after birth from 70 to 75 percent this year.