FAQ

© UNICEF HK/2013

 

FAQ

Workplace

About breastfeeding and work

1. Why does a mother need to continue breastfeeding after returning to work from maternity leave? Can’t she feed her baby with formula milk?

  • Other than being nutritious, breastmilk contains a variety of antibodies and immune cells for disease prevention. Its ingredients change over time as the baby grows up, and breastmilk is fed on demand according to the baby’s needs. All these cannot be replaced by formula milk.
  • Research data show that breastfed children are relatively healthier and cleverer. There are also better mother-child relationships.
  • ŸBreastmilk is produced continuously and the amount produced is according to the baby’s needs. While away at work the mother can maintain her supply of breastmilk by expressing milk. The expressed breastmilk can be stored/chilled and brought back home for feeding the baby.

2. Why should a company establish a breastfeeding friendly workplace to support breastfeeding employees?

  • Human resources are the invaluable assets of a company. Research data have shown that breastfeeding friendly workplaces enjoy the following benefits:
    • Lower medical costs and health insurance claims
    • Lower female turnover rates
    • Lower absenteeism rates
    • Enhanced productivity
    • Strengthened employee morale and loyalty to company
  • Supporting breastfeeding is part of corporate social responsibility and it helps enhance corporate image too.

About the pledge

1. Is there any commitment/obligation when a company pledges support?

  • The pledge is a voluntary statement expressing the willingness of a company to provide support to breastfeeding by establishing a breastfeeding friendly workplace.
  • While there’s no formal obligation, companies are very much encouraged to follow the suggested guidelines to establish a breastfeeding friendly environment to allow mothers to sustain breastfeeding after returning to work.

2. Can a company update the message or photo/logo on the website after pledging?

  • It is possible to update company information and message/photo/logo by calling the Campaign hotline 28362971 or sending email to [email protected].

3. Can a company operating at a home office or without a physical workplace pledge support?

  • All companies with physical workplaces are encouraged to pledge support under the Workplace category and to follow the suggested guidelines to establish a breastfeeding friendly environment.
  • Owners of other companies without a physical workplace or operating at home offices are encouraged to pledge as Individuals to help promote support for breastfeeding to the wider community.

About office setup and support

1. Will there be a lot of costs involved in setting up a breastfeeding friendly workplace?

  • There is a lot of flexibility in providing a breastfeeding friendly workplace. Most of the support measures can be offered by utilizing existing office facilities, e.g. meeting room, store room (provided clean and with enough space), vacant offices, work station at private corner, and pantry refrigerator
  • Some companies may choose to make investment in establishing a lactation room

2. How to support breastfeeding employees with outdoor duties or those who need to travel overseas?

  • It is most effective to have open communication with the employee and to allow flexibility in the work arrangements. For example, allow the employee to use nearby community baby care facilities; arrange posting so that the employee can continue to express breastmilk at the workplace.
  • If overseas trips cannot be avoided, see if the company can allow expression of breastmilk at the overseas offices. The breastmilk may be wasted but the mother can maintain her breastmilk supply so that she can sustain breastfeeding. The employee could also consider bringing back the breastmilk expressed by seeking help for hotels and airlines to store/chill the milk.

3. If an employee wants to continue breastfeeding after one year, is the employer required to continue granting her two lactation breaks? How to respond to the request?

  • When a child reaches one year of age he/she is already having a variety of food. The daily milk intake quantity and hence the frequency of breastfeeding or expression of breastmilk will reduce accordingly. Most likely one lactation break is enough.
  • The company can have communications with the employee to understand her needs and offer support where practical.

4. How to deal with possible grievances of other employees? For example, some employees may feel unfair that they don’t have such breaks, or that they need to take up additional work to support the breastfeeding colleagues.

  • Fortunately, overseas experience has indicated that most employees, regardless of their genders, support the implementation of breastfeeding friendly measures and are willing to help the breastfeeding colleagues.
  • Frequent and open communication between management staff, breastfeeding employees and the rest of the employees to make it clear about the temporary nature of the measures and the long term benefits for all parties will facilitate a successful implementation.

Public Premises

About the Support Needed

1. Will establishing “Breastfeeding Friendly Premises” increase operating costs?

  • No, there is no direct cost involved in making the public premises breastfeeding friendly. Most mothers simply wish to have an environment that makes them feel comfortable when breastfeeding. The friendly and supportive attitude of staff and other customers are what mothers are looking for.

2. Is it necessary to provide a room for the breastfeeding mother?

  • It is not a must to do so. While a room for breastfeeding would be ideal, when a room is unavailable, the premises may arrange a place with relatively more privacy or have some handy information on nearby breastfeeding facilities for the mothers in need.
  • In fact, most mothers wish to continue their social activities while breastfeeding, e.g. dining with families or friends, so special arrangements for them are actually not required. The most important is to respect the mother’s freedom to choose where to breastfeed.

3. How to handle a situation where other customers are concerned about seeing a mother breastfeed?

  • Customers usually do not have concerns about seeing a mother breastfeed. Staff may explain to the concerned customer that breastfeeding is a natural way to feed a baby. When a child is hungry, the mother needs to respond to his need.
  • If necessary, the staff member may offer the customer a seat away from the breastfeeding mother to avoid the embarrassment, or seek help from a more experienced staff member to handle the situation.

4. Why does a mother need to breastfeed in public premises? Can she not bring feed the baby with formula milk when going out? Or can she not breastfeed at home?

  • Other than being nutritious, breastmilk contains a variety of antibodies and immune cells for disease prevention. Its ingredients change over time as the baby grows up, and breastmilk is fed on demand according to the baby’s needs. All these cannot be replaced by formula milk.
  • UNICEF and the World Health Organisation recommend babies to be breastfed exclusively for the first six months, and thereafter introduce solid food gradually while continuing to breastfeed.
  • Breastmilk is produced continuously and the amount produced is according to the baby’s needs. When a baby is hungry the mother needs to respond to his need, regardless of where they are.
  • A mother should be able to have a normal social life like everybody else. Public premises can help mothers breastfeed comfortably by providing a friendly environment.

About the Pledge

1. Is there any commitment/obligation when a public place pledges support?

  • The pledge is a voluntary statement expressing the willingness of a company to provide support to breastfeeding by establishing breastfeeding friendly premises.
  • While there’s no formal obligation, public premises operators are very much encouraged to follow the suggested guidelines to establish a breastfeeding friendly environment to allow mothers to breastfeed comfortably in public and continue to enjoy social life.

2. Can the message or photo/logo shared on the website be updated after pledging?

  • It is possible to update company information and message/photo/logo by contacting the Campaign hotline 28362971 or sending email to [email protected].