Posted by on March 8, 2017
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Categories: Bay Area

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(BANT) – Breastfeeding mothers getting ready to return to work in San Francisco may soon have greater access to facilities for pumping under new legislation introduced by Supervisors Katy Tang and Malia Cohen Tuesday.

The legislation will require all employers to have a lactation policy and a process for employees to request accommodation for pumping and set minimum standards for the type of space that employers must provide to employees for pumping above and beyond that required by state and federal law.

The city will also provide guidance to employers including a model lactation policy and sample lactation accommodation request forms. And it will require that new construction and renovation projects of a certain size include lactation facilities.

Tang said her legislation was inspired in part by the experiences of her aide, Ashley Summers, whose child is around 18 months old now.

“New mothers who want to return to work face so many barriers– whether it’s juggling childcare, balancing a new schedule, or figuring out how to provide breast milk for their child,” Tang said.

Cohen, who co-sponsored the bill, previously worked to convert a second floor single-stall restroom in City Hall into a lactation room when she realized a number of employees were having babies.

She noted that mothers are the fastest growing segment of the country’s workforce, and that about 70 percent of employed mothers with children younger than three are working full time.

Many women, especially those at the lowest income levels, do not have a choice about going back to work, and can experience obstacles in the workplace that cause them to either choose not to breastfeed or stop earlier than they would like.

“This legislation is not just about what’s best for the baby, it’s really about providing choices to the mothers,” Cohen said.

Here is the press conference where the legislation was introduced:

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life. In practice, however, while 97 percent of women in San Francisco start breastfeeding in the hospital, 23 percent have begun to at least supplement with formula within a month of leaving the hospital.

By six months, only 16 percent of the low-income mothers are still exclusively breastfeeding, according to state figures.