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about-medpluxI am Dr. Akatakpo Dunn and I am passionate about women’s health issues and particularly about breastfeeding moms getting employed in the workplace.

You can start off by visiting the Medplux blog.


Women’s Health: How to recruit working breastfeeding moms

As head of the HR department of a large corporation, you are tasked with the job of overseeing staff welfare, discipline, etc. Perhaps, more importantly, you’re also responsible for the recruitment of staff to fill up vacancies.

Your company recently laid off two staff for non-performance and you need to fill up these positions.

You invite applications from suitably qualified professionals and go on to conduct interviews. At the end of a rigorous process, you and your team are down to two names that meet every requirement for the two positions.

But there’s a problem: they are both breastfeeding moms.

What do you do? To hire, or not to hire?

I’d say you hire, and fast!

Our society more often than not tends to view breastfeeding moms as incapable of high-level productivity. In my experience working with such women, nothing could be further than the truth.

Admittedly, they could be a little distracted by thoughts of their little babies as they often wonder if their babies are doing fine wherever they may be. For those who take their babies to work, it is even more difficult for them to fully concentrate if the babies are not sleeping.

Nevertheless, they regularly make the best out of such difficult situations.

As head of HR, here are a few recommendations your corporation could adopt so as to bring out the best from breastfeeding moms:

1. The most critical period for a breastfeeding mom are those 4-6 months following the delivery of their baby. This is the period where the baby needs the utmost care and attention as his body tries to adjust to this world.

Nutrition, as supplied by the mother, is vitally important at this stage.

Also, this is the period when the mother feels most attached to the baby emotionally and psychologically.

This is also the period where the woman tries to recover fully from the effects of pregnancy, especially in the first 3 months.

This is the rationale behind the mandatory maternity leave in many organizations. If the potential employee has passed this critical period, you need not bother much about her. She’ll perform at the top level.

2. The company could as a matter of policy, inform and educate their would be employees, especially the breastfeeding moms, of the vision and mission of the organization and how they would fit into it. They must be made to understand the rigors of their job, what it entails and what is expected of them.

Clarifying these from the start would help them develop the right mentality needed for their jobs and ensure high productivity.

3. After having understood the vision of the organization and their roles in it, they should be made directly accountable for the outcomes or results that they bring to the table, whatever it may be.

This action would make them tend to “own” their roles/job expectations. And the evidence in favor of greater productivity and functioning at optimum capacity when employees own the vision of a company or their roles in the vision would make an entire book.

Still, on this point, the company may go a step further and enter into a legally binding agreement with the employee, that clearly spells out their roles and expectations.

4. Knowing that the positions they would be taking over became vacant because the previous occupants were incompetent has a way of motivating new employees, breastfeeding moms inclusive.

5. Many breastfeeding moms are under some form of pressure on account of taking care of their babies at such an early age. A healthy work environment, devoid of more pressure is necessary for them to thrive. Regular encouragement and affirmation would go a long way in this regard.

6. If the company can afford it, a creche can be sited within the premises of the organization or at a nearby location.

Partnerships with other firms within the same area can also be sought, if the firm can not afford it alone. Two or more organizations within the same area can come together and fund a creche to serve the needs of their employees.

Having a creche nearby affords them the opportunity of being close to their babies, meaning they can quickly dash in to see their babies during break time or some other free time that may become available during the day.

The organization could also allow them a little off time on a regular basis, say weekly, to go see their babies. This may do them a world of good.

7. Ask them!

Yes, ask them what the organization could do to help them perform maximally and especially to keep the team healthy.

After they resume duties, ask them for solutions or ideas for solving whatever challenges they may have faced. This should be done regularly. Apart from helping to identify and deal with challenges, it gives them a firm idea that they are cared for and their needs as employees are important to the organization or company. Nothing spurs productivity as much as knowing that my organization cares about me.

You can trust them to generate ideas on how to improve their own work environment.

8. Use words!

Their confidence level should be boosted by words of encouragement letting them know that they are still very capable of high-level productivity despite the current demands of breastfeeding.

9. Finally, and more importantly, create a breastfeeding area for them within the company facility where they can easily get to, breastfeed their babies and quickly return to work.

As more and more mothers are breastfeeding, there is a greater need to provide areas for women to feed their babies. This can be a challenge for mothers who have to work because they won’t have that bonding time with their babies, and they may not even be able to pump milk if it is needed.

Some companies are offering a breastfeeding/pumping area for female employees so they have a comfortable, quiet place to pump. Some even offer other amenities, including private refrigerators that are designated for breast milk only

Almost every mother I know finds joy in breastfeeding their babies. A joyful or happy employee is almost always more capable of higher outputs.

With the right incentives, breastfeeding moms have what it takes to thrive in the work environment. Besides, the period of active and perhaps, intense breastfeeding lasts for a few months after delivery. If you pass up the chance of recruiting breastfeeding moms now, you stand the chance of losing them to your competitors a few months down the line.

Strengthening your competitors is not exactly how you want to run a company.