It is never easy to leave your baby when it is time to return to work. However, Hillcrest Medical Center NICU RN Lauren Wyzard had one less obstacle when she returned after having her second child nearly a year ago. “To have a place where you can come and relax and know that you are doing everything you can for your baby, pumping milk, is really nice,” she says of 24/7 access to a fully equipped pumping room at work. “It’s peace of mind.”
Wyzard knows the same is not true of all working moms in Oklahoma. “You hear of some women who have to stop pumping early or have to stop breastfeeding earlier than they had planned,” she says.
Hillcrest Medical Center is the first and only hospital in Tulsa recognized by the Oklahoma State Department of Health as a Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite Gold Star Employer. For breastfeeding employees at Hillcrest like Wyzard, their goals to continue to breastfeed after returning back to work are now easier to achieve with more access to breastfeeding and pumping facilities and support.
Lactation consultant Cheryl Coleman says the Peggy V. Helmerich Women’s Health Center at Hillcrest Medical Center has been working towards this recognition for a while. “Becoming a Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite is a tremendous accomplishment and says a lot about Hillcrest’s commitment to its employees and to the community,” she says. “By providing a comfortable, secure location for our breast pumping employees we are letting them know that we value and support the commitment they have made to the health and well-being of their child. The hospital benefits by having a healthier, happier workforce with decreased turnover and decreased absences for family illness.”
Becoming a Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite required the collaboration of hospital administration, the lactation team and vendors to provide a secure and furnished breastfeeding room stocked with the necessary supplies and amenities to allow employees 24/7 access while at work. An employee pump room is equipped with two hospital-grade pumps free of rental charges with private pumping stations. Coleman says employees have been quick to take advantage of the amenities. “It has been well used over the past year and future goals include securing a second pumping room in the main hospital as staff in those areas are continuing to pump in lounges and education rooms or wherever they can find space,” she says.
A Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite does more than provide employees the resources to continue breastfeeding. This recognition supports amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act and meets one of the Healthy People 2020 target goals to increase the proportion of employers that have worksite lactation support programs. “Hopefully our commitment to breastfeeding mothers will encourage our childbearing employees to extend their breastfeeding goals with the knowledge that they have the support to continue this lifesaving practice even once they return to work,” she says.
In less than a week Lauren’s youngest child will celebrate his first birthday. It is not only a milestone for his first year of life, but one for Lauren as well. “My goal was a year and we are very obviously meeting that goal,” she says.