The Allegheny County Health Department, in cooperation with its Breastfeeding Promotion Steering Committee, is taking nominations for its 13th annual Breastfeeding Friendly Place Awards.
The awards are presented to workplaces, public places and other sites away from home that make an extra effort to accommodate the special needs of breastfeeding mothers by offering a positive attitude and supportive environment.
Employers can help by offering flex time or extended paid maternity leave; a health plan with breast pump coverage; work site day care; and making provisions for breastfeeding at work, such as a place and time for pumping milk and a refrigerator in which to store the milk.
Public places and other areas away from home — restaurants, malls, libraries, theaters, parks, places of worship as well as sports and entertainment facilities — can be supportive by providing an attractive, clean, private area and comfortable seating for mothers to use when nursing a child, and by displaying a sign to welcome breastfeeding mothers and let them know special accommodations are available.
“Making places outside the home more breastfeeding friendly will encourage women to breastfeed longer,” said County Health Director Dr. Bruce W. Dixon.
Studies show babies derive greater health benefits when they are breastfed for six months or longer. Yet while 67 percent of new moms breastfeed at birth, only 35 percent are still nursing six months later, due in part to a lack of support in the workplace and other areas outside the home.
Breastfeeding friendly workplaces are also good for business, because breastfed babies are less likely to get sick throughout childhood and that means lower absentee rates for working moms and dads due to a child's illness.
To nominate an employer, public place or other site outside the home for the awards, call the Allegheny County Health Department at 412-687-ACHD or visit www.achd.net. Nominations will be accepted until May 31, and the awards will be announced during World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7.
The award winners last year were The Children's Home and Lemieux Family Center in Friendship in the workplace category and Babies “R” Us in Monroeville in the public place category.
In previous years, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, The Mall at Robinson and Shaare Torah Congregation in Squirrel Hill were winners in the public place category. Workplace winners included Bayer Corp., FedEx Ground, NOVA Chemicals, Development Dimensions International, PNC Financial Services Group, Crouse & Company, Magee Womens Hospital, Sewickley Valley Hospital, Deloitte Consulting Group, and Price and Associates.