In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, which runs through Tuesday, the East Hawaii Perinatal Consortium (EH LAC), announces the availability of lactation accommodation consultants to help local businesses improve existing or create accommodations for employees and customers to breastfeed or to express milk.
According to amendments in the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employers must provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”
“With the support of the State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, we are offering this service to local business because we know the payoff is significant,” said Cathi Lux, chair of EH LAC. “Supporting employees and customers builds satisfaction, loyalty and cost savings to businesses.”
According to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health’s Business Case for Breastfeeding Project, these savings are seen in:
• Retention of experienced employees;
• Reduced sick time taken by both moms and dads for children’s illnesses; and
• Lower health care and insurance costs.
HELCO and Hilo Medical Center have already invited Lactation Accommodation consultants to take a look at their accommodations. Consultants’ suggestions included: a comfortable chair, outlet for the breast pump, a lamp for softer lighting, and brochure holders.
The hospital called on its HMC Foundation to help make comfortable the quaint five-foot by seven-foot room. Local businesses interested in scheduling an appointment with the Lactation Accommodation Consultants from the East Hawaii Perinatal Consortium may call the Department of Health’s Hilo Office at 974-4291.
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year in more than 170 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration made by WHO (World Health Organization) and UNICEF policy-makers in August 1990 to protect, promote and support (more) Working together to improve perinatal health outcomes and to advance the health of all women, with special outreach to Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, Filipinos and all teen moms.
WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is 6 months old, and continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years or beyond. In addition to offering lactation accommodation consultation, the EH LAC will be welcoming new physicians and stopping by local fire stations to hand out information on breastfeeding. Recently, the East Hawaii Perinatal Consortia has established a five-class series, supported through the Department of Health’s “Women’s Health Community Grant,” that include: Praise and Parenting; Family Safety in Today’s World; Breastfeeding, Nutrition and Local Foods; Family Planning and Relationships; and Self-Care and Car Seat Safety. Classes are scheduled for Pahoa Women’s Health Center, Neighborhood Place of Puna-Mt. View, and Hilo. For more information, call Grace Barrientos at Malama Perinatal, 934-9823.