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World Breastfeeding Week, an event organized by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, occurs each August to highlight the importance of supporting nursing mothers going back to work. In the United States, over one-third of all mothers working outside of the home have children under the age of two! Many of these women may want to breastfeed, but they may not be able to, due to work constraints.

Federal agencies are required by law to provide nursing employees with reasonable time and private space to express milk for their infant child for the first year of the child’s life. In addition to the requirements of the law, the best agency programs include pre-natal, return-to-work and related counseling for these nursing mothers. Supportive work-life policies and practices benefit the employer as well as the employee. Worksites that support nursing mothers result in fewer sick days, higher rates of retention, increased job satisfaction and loyalty, and increased productivity.  

Available Federal resources for nursing mothers include:

  • Agency Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) or Workplace Lactation Coordinators who provide support to nursing mothers. EAPs offer a wealth of information, resources, and counseling.

While many Federal agencies continue to work towards implementing outstanding programs and facilities in their workplaces, several agencies have already succeeded in doing just that. The National Security Agency (NSA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Department of Energy (DOE) have gone above and beyond to help working moms juggle their duties along with breastfeeding. Their programs include handing out prenatal education kits, hosting a new parent open house, teaching on-site prenatal breastfeeding classes, and providing on-site lactation consultants, just to name a few.

At OPM, we believe it is our job to celebrate the Federal workforce by offering our employees every opportunity to thrive in both their personal and professional lives. By allowing nursing mothers the ability to continue to breastfeed, we are giving them the chance to get back to work sooner, if that is their plan.

If you would like more information on Federal guidelines regarding breastfeeding, check out this Fact Sheet and these FAQs. You can also contact your agency’s work-life office or OPM’s work-life staff at worklife@opm.gov.


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