Health Care

Shawnee Mission Medical Center Earns Distinction for Supporting Breastfeeding Associates

A new mom holds her infant.
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Shawnee Mission Medical Center (SMMC) received a Gold Level Employer Support for Nursing Mothers Award from the Mother and Child Health Coalition and the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition. The award recognizes businesses that provide support for breastfeeding, to include education as well as the time and space for associates to nurse and/or pump breast milk at their workplace.

"Women with children are the fastest growing segment of the workforce," said Michelle Sanders, lactation program coordinator for Shawnee Mission Health. "Breastfeeding is important to the development of both the mother and the child, and we are honored to be recognized for our efforts to create a mother-friendly workplace."

Sanders cites research showing that adequate support for nursing associates benefits businesses through savings in health care expenses, reduced turnover rates, lower absenteeism and increased loyalty.

Many nursing mothers abandon breastfeeding when they return to work because they lack the support and appropriate accommodations at their place of employment, Sanders said. Shawnee Mission Health wants to be a part of the solution.

As part of its program to support breastfeeding associates, SMMC:

  • Has a written breastfeeding support policy with education provided for all associates
  • Provides a private, secure area, not a bathroom, where mothers can comfortably pump or breastfeed, as well as refrigerator storage, a sink and a hospital-grade multi-user breast pump
  • Provides flexible 15-20 minute breaks when mothers can breastfeed or pump, as well as on-site child care for associates children ages six months to 12 years
  • Offers access to resources about breastfeeding and the support of an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

The Employer Support for Nursing Mothers Award is a project in conjunction with the U.S. Office on Women's Health program, The Business Case for Breastfeeding. On its web site, WomensHealth.gov, employers may find valuable tools to enhance their efforts to make the workplace more mother-friendly.

The mission of the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition is to improve the health and well-being of Kansans by working collaboratively to promote, protect and support breastfeeding.

Mother and Child Health Coalition works together with community partners and families to promote wellness and advocate excellence in health care. The organizations Metro KC Breastfeeding Collaborative works to build an awareness regarding the importance of breastfeeding at all levels of community, including mothers, families and businesses.

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