Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition


When working moms can continue breastfeeding, everybody wins. Babies have fewer illnesses, mothers have fewer sick days to care for their infants, and companies benefit from decreased employee turnover and lower health care costs.

Breastfeeding in the Workplace under the Affordable Care Act

Have questions about the new law? Find answers at the US Department of Labor’s information page and the United States Breastfeeding Committee’s information page.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (“Affordable Care Act”) amended section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) to require employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk. Employers are also required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk. The break time requirement became effective when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010. For more information, see

The Business Case for Breastfeeding

The US Department of Health and Human Services has assembled a comprehensive collection of educational materials designed to encourage employers to support employee breastfeeding. You can download the material and order a complete kit on the HHS website.

What do moms need to succeed?

The Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition hosted a panel discussion on that question in September 2007. Moderated by Judy Casey, director of the Sloan Work and Family Network, the panel featured Naomi Bar-Yam, Kirsten Berggren, and Carla Moquin.

For an inspiring introduction to lactation and the workplace, view the panel discussion here online.

What’s here

For nursing families: Learn strategies for making the transition back to work

For employers: Find information on benefits for your business and learn how to set up a lactation support program

For healthcare professionals: Simple steps to help your patients combine working and breastfeeding

For advocates: Learn how you can support mothers in the workplace through policy and legislation

For nursing families

You can keep breastfeeding when you return to work. To get off to the right start, or address new challenges, use these web resources:

For nursing families For employers | For healthcare professionals | For advocates

For employers

Why support nursing moms in your workplace? Because it’s worth it. With a few months of flexibility, your business reaps tremendous rewards:

  • Fewer sick days for moms:
    • Formula feeding moms have three times as many one-day absences from work to care for sick children in the first year of life than do breastfeeding moms. Cohen, Mrtek, and Mrtek (1995)
    • It is estimated that, for every 1000 formula feeding babies, their mothers would miss a total of one full year of employment in excess of breastfeeding mothers, because their children are sick so much more often, Ball and Wright (1999)
  • Return on your investment
    • Aetna found a $2.8 return for every $1 invested to support lactation
    • Sanvita, a worksite lactation support company, has found that companies have obtained $1.50 to $4.50 for each dollar invested.
  • Lower health care costs
    • Infants who receive only their mothers’ milk for the first three months of life incur $331 less in health care costs over the first year of life.
  • Lower staff turnover
    • Employers find that lactation support leads to improved staff productivity and loyalty, helping you retain talented employees.
  • Positive image of a family friendly employer
More data
Making it happen

Toolkits for implementing lactation support in your workplace

For nursing families | For employers For healthcare professionals | For advocates

For healthcare professionals

Review resources in the section for nursing families and provide copies for mothers at prenatal or early postpartum visits. It may also be helpful to write a letter for new mothers to take to their employer, describing the importance of breastfeeding.

For nursing families | For employers | For healthcare professionals | For advocates

For advocates

Talking points on legislation

The Breastfeeding Promotion Act (HR 2236)

Directories of state breastfeeding laws

Write to your legislator or local officials, anywhere in the US, using capwiz advocacy page of Children’s Hospital Boston.

And join our mailing list to participate in planning and advocacy efforts.

For nursing families | For employers | For healthcare professionals | For advocates