NDSU is among the first organizations in North Dakota to be recognized as "infant friendly," by the North Dakota Department of Health, Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity. The designation, announced at the end of July, will be in effect for three years.
The new "infant-friendly" designation recognizes worksites that have adopted a workplace breastfeeding policy that includes: • Flexible work scheduling, including scheduling breaks and permitting work patterns that provide time for expression of breast milk. • A convenient, sanitary, safe and private location (other than a restroom), allowing privacy for breastfeeding or expressing breast milk. • A convenient, clean and safe water source with facilities for washing hands and rinsing breast-pumping equipment located near the private location. • A convenient place for temporarily storing breast milk, such as a refrigerator or cooler.
The designation coincides with Gov. Jack Dalrymple's proclamation of Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 1-7. It also aligns with the global celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, an annual event that draws attention to the health impacts of breastfeeding for both babies and mothers.
"We understand that if a woman has support in her place of employment she will breastfeed her infant for a longer duration," said Deanna Askew, healthy communities coordinator for the N.D. Department of Health. "This will give the baby an edge in overall health, including less infections, disease, obesity and diabetes."
According to research, breastfeeding also benefits the employer. Such benefits include lower health-care costs because breastfed babies are healthier, lower absenteeism and lower turnover rates since women are more likely to return to their previous jobs if the company provides support for breastfeeding mothers. These benefits can provide considerable cost savings to employers.
"NDSU is continuously striving to recruit and retain the best possible employees. Having been approved as an infant-friendly employer is another step in that direction. The Memorial Union staff worked diligently to get the Mother's Room ready, and the response has been phenomenal," said Brittnee Steckler, benefits coordinator in NDSU's Office of Human Resources and Payroll. "As an NDSU alumna and employee, it gives me one more reason to be proud to be a Bison."
The infant-friendly designations and World Breastfeeding Week complement the 2011 Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. In January, Surgeon General Dr. Regina M. Benjamin called all sectors of society to help remove the obstacles faced by women who want to breastfeed.
For more information about the "infant-friendly" designation, contact Askew at (701) 328-4568.