BISMARCK -- The North Dakota Department of Health is encouraging businesses to support working mothers by earning their Infant Friendly Workplace designation. The designation is awarded to employers who adopt breastfeeding support policies. These policies should include guidelines for adequate break times; a clean, private location for milk expression; and available resources for clean water and breast milk storage.

Research from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows businesses who implement these policies experience many benefits, including increased employee retention; reduced sick time for children’s illnesses; and lower health care and insurance costs, according to a press release issued by the NDDoH.

In addition to these benefits, Brady Nash, CEO of BNG Team, a Fargo-based business solutions company, says becoming an Infant Friendly Workplace is one way businesses can show their employees they care.

“You want your employees to care about your customers. You want them to care about your business. This is just one big example of how you can show that you care about them,” said Nash in a statement. “I think that can affect turnover...your morale, your culture, and whether people want to stay and whether they recommend people coming to work for you. It’s not the end-all be-all, but I think it’s a mindset.”

In 2019, over 80% of North Dakota babies started out breastfeeding. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this rate decreases significantly after their mothers return to work.

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By providing the right support at work, businesses can help sustain an employee’s decision to breastfeed, as well as increase their overall feelings of workplace satisfaction and well-being.

Funding is available through the NDDoH Maternal and Child Health Program to support businesses pursuing an Infant Friendly Workplace designation. The primary focus of the funding is to assist workplaces with creating a private space for breastfeeding employees. Businesses may request up to $500. The 2021 application deadline is August 1.

To learn more and apply, businesses can go to health.nd.gov/infant-friendly, or contact Mikaela Schlosser at mlschlosser@nd.gov or 701-328-4529.