U.S. launches ‘Power to Pump’ campaign during World Breastfeeding Week


U.S. launches 'Power to Pump' campaign during World Breastfeeding Week

Nursing workers are getting some much-needed support with Tuesday’s start of World Breastfeeding Week and the U.S. Department of Labor’s campaign launch of “Power to Pump,” to raise awareness about worker protections for millions of nursing mothers. Photo courtesy of HealthDay

Nursing workers are getting some much-needed support with the start of World Breastfeeding Week and the U.S. Department of Labor’s campaign launch Tuesday of “Power to Pump,” to raise awareness about protections for millions of nursing mothers.

During the campaign, the department’s Wage and Hour Division will distribute thousands of information cards on the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act, requiring employers to provide breaks and private space so working mothers — including teachers, nurses, drivers, home care workers and agriculture workers — can express breast milk for their nursing children.

“Workplace supports for pumping breast milk are critical because the majority of women return to work within a year of giving birth,” said Principal Deputy Wage and Hour administrator Jessica Looman.

“When a nursing worker has the right to break time and a private space to pump breast milk, they have greater peace of mind and are better able to continue breastfeeding if they choose,” Looman added.

The information campaign — which will also include webinars — will target employers, as well as new and expecting parents and those workers in industries affected by the changes.

PUMP, which was signed into law in December and stands for Providing Urgent Maternal Protections, requires employers to accommodate nursing mothers for one year after the child’s birth.

“Employees are entitled to a place to pump at work, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public,” the law says.

The first week of August is also World Breastfeeding Week, with this year’s theme “Let’s make breastfeeding work, work.” According to UNICEF and the World Health Organization, more than half a billion working women are not provided with essential maternity protections under national laws, with only 20% of all countries requiring employers to give paid breaks for breastfeeding or expressing milk.

“In the last 10 years, many countries have made significant progress to increase exclusive breastfeeding rates. Yet even greater progress is possible when breastfeeding is protected and supported, particularly in the workplace,” UNICEF executive director Catherine Russell and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a joint statement Tuesday.

“Breastfeeding protects babies from common infectious diseases and boosts children’s immune systems. Babies who are not breastfed are 14 times more likely to die before they reach their first birthday than babies who are exclusively breastfed,” Russell and Ghebreyesus added. “From the earliest moments of a child’s life, breastfeeding is the ultimate child survival and development intervention.”

Currently, fewer than half of infants worldwide under the age of 6 months are exclusively breastfed, according to WHO.

“To reach the global 2030 target of 70%, the barriers women and families face to achieve their breastfeeding goals must be addressed,” Russell and Ghebreyesus said.

“Supportive workplaces are key. Evidence shows that while breastfeeding rates drop significantly for women when they return to work, that negative impact can be reversed when workplaces facilitate mothers to continue to breastfeed their babies.”


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