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Jul 16, 2019 12:44 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Looks To Create Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplace

Southampton Town Board members are considering legislation that will benefit breastfeeding mothers at Town Hall. GREG WEHNER
Jul 16, 2019 1:08 PM

Southampton Town officials are taking steps designed to make Town Hall more accessible to breastfeeding mothers.

Currently, the town offers a private area for breastfeeding mothers who work for the town. The space includes a lactation room, refrigeration for the milk and outlets to plug in electric pumps.

But where the town is lacking is when it comes to legislation to protect the rights of mothers who are breastfeeding.

Representatives from Northwell Health met with the Town Board at a work session on Thursday, July 11, and discussed the benefits of providing a breastfeeding-friendly environment.

Maggie Sherin, a representative of Northwell who attended the meeting, told board members that by providing better facilities for breastfeeding mothers, they could, in effect, help promote healthier babies.

She noted that the State Department of Health provided the healthcare network with a grant to prevent pediatric obesity, and that mother’s milk has a protective effect against obesity later in life.

She and her team stressed that babies learn how to regulate food intake when they are breastfed, and stop when they have had enough—unlike bottle-fed babies, who stop only when the bottle is empty.

Other benefits of breast milk, they said, include the prevention of ear infections, diarrhea and, later in life, diabetes. While breastfeeding also helps strengthen the bond between mothers and their babies, they said, it also helps lessen stress in mothers after they give birth.

“It’s good for mom and baby,” Yingna Wang, one of the project coordinators from Northwell, said during the presentation.

While the proposed measures being taken by the Town Board will not necessarily create a space for mothers to bring their kids to work and breastfeed them on the job, they will allow the mother to pump milk whenever necessary throughout the day, without penalty or discrimination.

An added benefit is that Northwell will provide a commercial-grade breast pump with sanitary attachments.

By taking the steps, the town will provide a private space for mothers, flexible break time that can be broken down between lunch breaks and others that are regularly scheduled, educational materials about breastfeeding rights, and support for mothers who return to work and need to continue breastfeeding.

Southampton Town Human Resources Attorney Sandra Cirincione said she would draft legislation to take the necessary steps to become breastfeeding friendly for the Town Board’s next meeting on July 23.

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