Economic Opportunity, Policy Updates

The Impact of Breast Feeding

by Carson Cook on Mar 5, 2018

The benefits of breastfeeding to mom and infant are well documented and The American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and the US Surgeon General recommend that infants be breastfed exclusively for the first 6-months of life and breastmilk should remain a part of their diet at least up to one year and for “as long as is mutually desired by mother and baby.” More than 70% of new mothers now follow their doctor’s recommendations to breastfeed immediately after birth. Unfortunately, it is incredibly difficult for women who are employed full-time to maintain this due to lack of accommodations in the workplace; only 25% of employed women with children under age 1 combine working and breastfeeding for at least a month.[1]

To lessen those difficulties here in South Carolina the Nursing Mothers Act, H.4717, was introduced on the House floor. It aims to support nursing mothers, which is crucial to the health and economic well being of the state.

This bill would require that government buildings have a space for nursing mothers, provide a tax credit for businesses who offer accommodations for expressing breastmilk, and require that employers with 5 or more employees provide break time for nursing mothers.

The World Health Organization states that breastmilk promotes sensory and cognitive development, and protects the infant against infectious and chronic diseases. On the other side, breastfeeding aids the health and well being of mothers by reducing the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer.[2]

Breastfeeding also has several other practical bonuses that the entire family can benefit from. Breastfeeding is far less expensive, with formula ranging from $4-$10 daily it can add a tremendous burden on a families finances. Breastfeeding can be faster and simpler, especially at night. Lastly, breastfeeding is also good for the environment since it eliminates washing bottles or throwing away formula cans.[3]

All benefit when businesses support nursing mothers:

Companies often equate accommodations with cost, but similar to purchasing third-party training programs for staff, providing accommodation for nursing mothers is investing in your employee and therefore your company overall. Mothers are the fastest growing segment of the US labor force and in South Carolina women already represent more than 48% of the total workforce. It is time to start providing solutions that will benefit all involved. [6]

To help further this conversation please call Chairman Leon Howard of the Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee and request a hearing for H.4717.

Talking Points:

[1] National Business Group on Health, Investing in Workplace Breastfeeding Programs and Policy.

[2] World Health Organization, Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health.

[3] Health Children. Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom.

[4] Cleveland Clinic, The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Baby and for Mom.–for-mom

[5] National Business Group on Health, Investing in Workplace Breastfeeding Programs and Policy.

[6] Lactation Support Essential for a Work-family Friendly Environment.


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