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Success Stories - Fargo Cass Public Health

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Michelle Draxten

Fargo Cass Public Health Supports Moms

Seven Questions with Michelle Draxten, Registered Dietitian and Certified Lactation Counselor at Fargo Cass Public Health:

Question 1 –What is Fargo Cass Public Health doing to help new mothers who want to breastfeed or pump breastmilk and go back to work?
We want to help all new mothers and businesses find a balance between work and family. A big part of this balance is helping new mothers who are breastfeeding feel confident that they can go back to work and continue to breastfeed. For new moms, our Back to Work Mom (#B2Wmom) support program provides resources, offers free classes and even sends educational and supportive text messages. We also help businesses who want to support their breastfeeding employees and become Infant Friendly.

Question 2 –What does it mean to be an Infant Friendly Business?
The Infant Friendly workplace designation is a designation through the North Dakota Department of Health. The designation recognizes businesses with a breastfeeding support policy in place. The policy states that the company allows flexible schedules for moms to breastfeed or pump during work. Infant Friendly businesses also have a private space, that’s not a bathroom, to breastfeed or pump.

Question 3 – What are the spaces for breastfeeding or pumping like?
The space should be private, quiet and overall be a comfortable spot for the mother. It should also have easy access to a sink and refrigeration. Often the private spaces are near a bathroom, but to have the Infant Friendly Designation, the space cannot be the bathroom. Feeding or pumping in a bathroom stall is pretty gross and uncomfortable for a new mom and baby. And it’s actually unlawful. Our goal is to help businesses look at the spaces in their buildings and see if there is a way to be creative and convert a small area to a comfortable spot for breastfeeding or pumping breastmilk.

Question 4 – Can you help businesses establish infant friendly spaces?
Yes! We have helped several businesses find a space in their building and others develop that space for new mothers. We also have mini-grants of up to $500 available for businesses to assist in making these spaces comfortable.

Question 5 – Does being Infant Friendly benefit the business?
Absolutely. We have heard from so many Infant Friendly businesses that having a space for new mothers to breastfeed or pump breastmilk has made their employees, and often their customers, feel more comfortable. Employees feel valued for their talent and time when an employer helps them achieve their personal and career goals. Infant Friendly businesses also experience fewer healthcare costs and staff turnover.

Question 6 – Are there benefits to allowing new mothers space and time to breastfeed or pump breastmilk?
Breastfeeding benefits moms and babies. Studies show moms who are able to breastfeed miss less work in the long run because their children statistically get sick less often. The antibodies, cells, and hormones in breastmilk build babies immune systems and help fight illness. While we know it’s not possible for all mothers to breastfeed all the time, we really want to make it as easy as possible for those mothers that can and want to breastfeed to do so and balance their career.

Question 7 – Where can people learn more about how to be Infant Friendly or how to balance a baby and going back to work?
Our website has so many resources for businesses and new mothers alike. There are also success stories on the site that outline what other businesses and new moms have done to make breastfeeding part of their work-life balance. People can also contact me at Fargo Cass Public Health if they need help or suggestions. I’m always happy to help!

Michelle Draxten is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Lactation Counselor at Fargo Cass Public Health. She is a full-time working mom of two and has firsthand experience finding the balance between returning to work and breastfeeding.