How Employers Can Best Support New Parents

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( — September 2, 2023) — Did you know that the first law to protect a woman’s right to breastfeed her child in public wasn’t enacted until 1984 in New York? This was later adopted by Florida and North Carolina in 1993.

Since that time, many more states have enacted lawsto protect breastfeeding, not only in public, but the work environment as well.

Breastfeeding Statistics

Less than two generations ago, the right to breastfeed in public was severely limited and looked down on by mainstream society. In the early 1980s, only 35% of babies were breastfed during the first four months of life.

While this number has increased since the early 1970s, when only 10% were breastfed, the de-stigmatization has resulted in over 58% of babies being breastfed at 6 months in today’s world.

Why Culture and Laws Matter

The campaign to encourage breastfeeding, and put laws in place to protect a parent’s right to breastfeed, has significantly impacted the number of breastfed children. By implementing laws to protect parents in their endeavors, breastfeeding in public has become less of an anomaly.

Educating individuals on the importance of proper infant nutrition has been vital to eliminating the stigma attached to breastfeeding.

Thanks to breastfeeding in public, women have been able to reclaim their bodies and redefine the meaning of breasts. Although breasts have long been sexualized in our culture, embracing breastfeeding is allowing women to rewrite the narrative and embrace the true purpose of the breast.

Unfortunately, there are still improvements that society needs to make in order to provide proper support to breastfeeding individuals. As the cost of living has steadily increased, the need for two incomes has become common throughout our society.

As a result, more and more parents are returning to work earlier than they would have liked. This societal shift has necessitated that employers provide additional resources to help facilitate the needs of their employees.

How Employers Can Make a Difference

The evidence that “breast is best” is undeniable. However, due to the busy schedule and inconveniences to lactating parents, breastfeeding after returning to work becomes quite difficult.

This leaves parents with the dilemma of having to choose between returning to work or staying home with their child. In fact, 83% of millennials would change jobs for better family benefits.

Employers play a vital role in helping parents find greater success in their breastfeeding journey. This is done by creating and encouraging a work environment that is more accepting and accommodating to lactating parents.

These programs, which are implemented by organizations like The Lactation Network, are able to boost post-maternity leave retention from 59% to an incredible 92%. By providing lactation rooms, as well as flexible work hours, managing work and home life becomes more attainable.

When employers provide lactation support for employees, by utilizing resources made available through the Affordable Care Act, employers are able to offer breastfeeding insurance to their employees.

As employers, the government, and employees come together to achieve the goal of providing more opportunities for breastfeeding parents, our culture will become more family-focused, creating a stronger workforce and a better society overall.


As individuals have worked together to fight against breastfeeding injustices and properly support new parents, the negativity associated with public breastfeeding is soon becoming a thing of the past.

As some injustices are overcome, others become more apparent. By working with employers and insurance, these problems can be overcome, leading to further progression and greater success in our society.