News Local/State

CU Public Health Wants To Help Businesses Support Breastfeeding Mothers

breastfeeding-friendly decal

Breastfeeding provides health benefits to both moms and babies. A public-health initiative in Champaign-Urbana aims to get more local businesses to support the practice. 

The CU Public Health District offers businesses a training session to get certified as “breastfeeding-friendly.”

Public Health Nutritionist Rachel Jones said the certification process, which takes up to an hour to complete, provides businesses with information about how to support employees and patrons who are nursing mothers.

It also provides up-to-date information on state and federal breastfeeding laws, including a recent change to Illinois law that requires that employers provide paid breaks and a private location that is not a restroom to pump breast milk.

"That's a new law that a lot of businesses don't know about," Jones said.

Businesses that are certified get added to CUPHD's list of breastfeeding-friendly businesses and are provided with a window decal to inform window shoppers that their business is supportive of nursing mothers.

Jones said the breastfeeding-friendly business initiative started in 2012, when the public health district heard from moms who felt their employer’s policies made it hard for them to breastfeed their babies.

Valerie Koress, CUPHD breastfeeding coordinator, said the certification benefits nursing mothers, and can be good for business as well. Customers with young children will feel more welcome and be more likely to patronize breastfeeding-friendly businesses, she said, and employees will be more satisfied working in an environment that is supportive of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding in public is legal in all 50 states.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman