August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month: 8 Ways Employers Can Celebrate Working Parents
The month of August is a time to celebrate and support breastfeeding! Each week unfolds with a different theme that’s aimed at reaching a diverse mix of communities. For employers, it’s an ideal time to lift up your new parents and cultivate a breastfeeding friendly culture to accommodate pumping employees.
What is Breastfeeding Awareness Month
Breastfeeding awareness first began in 1992 to commemorate the signing of the Innocenti Declaration, a memorandum from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to promote the practice of breastfeeding globally. The declaration says in part that “all women should be enabled to practice exclusive breastfeeding.”
In 2011, the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) designated August as National Breastfeeding Month. Each year, the USBC hosts a social media outreach campaign inviting member organizations, breastfeeding coalitions and individuals to engage in conversation and action about practices needed to build a solid structure of support for families.
Breastfeeding Awareness Month is about Engagement & Inclusivity
USBC’s campaign this year is This is Our Why, which shines a light on why this work is so important and centers the conversation on babies and families. To further support underrepresented communities, outreach efforts like Black Breastfeeding Week offer encouragement and informed support by inviting Black mothers to share their breastfeeding journey.
USBC’s 2023 weekly observances include:
- Week 1 (August 1-7): World Breastfeeding Week
- Week 2 (August 8-14): Indigenous Milk Medicine Week
- Week 3 (August 15-21): Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Breastfeeding Week
- Week 4 (August 25-31): Black Breastfeeding Week
- Week 5 (September 5-11): Lactancia Latina Week (new this year!)
Breastfeeding Awareness Month Drives Social Media Conversations
August awareness campaigns tap into the vast and thriving social media platforms where breastfeeding moms and families support each other and exchange information.
Parents turn to social media to share their stories and struggles about lactation issues and how to manage pumping milk at work – not just in August but throughout their breastfeeding journeys. On Instagram, #breastfeeding has 6.4 million posts and #workingmom has 6.1 million posts. Other popular hashtags include #normalizebreastfeeding (1.1 million) and #breastfeedingmom (1 million).
8 Ways Employers Can Honor Working Parents During Breastfeeding Awareness Month
1 Create or revisit your lactation accommodation policy.
One of the best ways to support your working parents is to make a commitment at the policy level. A written policy is the first step in demonstrating legal compliance and clarifying expectations to management and employees. Or maybe you have a policy but it could use a refresher now that the landmark Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act is in effect. Our sample Lactation Accommodation Policy reflects best practices that meet or exceed the latest federal requirements.
Once you’ve buttoned up your policy, communication is critical as the final step. Our own research shows that more than a third (38%) of new moms weren’t sure what, if any, breastfeeding support is offered at their workplace.¹
2 Check in with employees.
Mark the occasion by getting a read on how your breastfeeding parents feel about current policies. Use our set of Workplace Lactation Support questions to customize a quick survey for your organization. With expanded protections in the mix, it’s a good idea to find out how employees rate your lactation space and break time policies. Was the space private and secure? Did they feel encouraged to schedule breaks or did they encounter obstacles?
3 Elevate your lactation space.
Another way to celebrate your pumping parents is by checking the functionality of your lactation space. Small, low-cost changes like adding a comfortable chair, a mirror or lactation accessories will say a lot about whether your organization understands the obstacles new parents face. Start here for ideas on how to thoughtfully outfit your lactation space.
4 Leverage wellness dollars.
Did you know that you can use wellness dollars to fund lactation benefits? For about a $2,000 investment, you can outfit your lactation space with a multi-user pump and supplies. It’s an attractive, meaningful benefit for moms because they don’t have to worry about transporting and setting up their own pump each day. Instead, they can take advantage of the efficiency of a hospital-grade pump and settle into a stress-free routine that positively impacts productivity.
5 Create a company LinkedIn post.
Participate in the social media buzz around breastfeeding awareness month. Post on LinkedIn about how your company supports a breastfeeding friendly culture by describing your lactation spaces and related benefits. Need some inspiration? Check out some of our stories of kinship and explore how other employers are celebrating breastfeeding employees year-round with customized lactation programs.
6 Circulate news internally about the PUMP Act.
Be sure your organization is up to speed on the PUMP Act, which adds protections for an additional 9 million working women of childbearing age. Circulating and posting information about the PUMP Act will help ensure compliance and show your commitment to protecting pumping employees. Check out our host of resources to get started.
7 Add a lactation telehealth service.
Breastfeeding is a learned skill that can require a lot of guidance, especially for first-time working mothers who are strapped for time and need answers in the moment. Consider rounding out your lactation benefits with a telehealth service that offers families 24/7 live access to lactation consultants and pediatric experts. Kin’s virtual access service seamlessly integrates with your existing EAP or wellness vendor - and can be up and running in just 30 days.
8 Share resources with parents in your workforce.
- Consider creating a resource page or blog to share helpful information with employees who are navigating a whole new way of life with little ones. Some free resources to get you started:
- From the nonprofit Center for Worklife Law, this online resource center offers educational materials about navigating workplace rights and support.
- Medela’s Breastfeeding Guide features clinically reviewed articles covering the full breastfeeding journey, from prenatal to the return-to-work phase.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a comprehensive guide for safely storing and transporting breast milk.
¹The Moms’ Thoughts on Breastfeeding in the News survey was conducted by Kin and Medela in October 2022 and included more than 2,500 qualified respondents of new or expectant mothers.