Step Zero: Become a Texas-Mother Friendly Worksite
Texas Mother-Friendly designation is considered the “Step Zero” of applying for Texas Ten Step Designation. As a Texas Mother-Friendly worksite your facility has the opportunity to be a role model in your community and establish a positive breastfeeding culture starting with the support you give your own employees when they return to work.
A common reason women list for early cessation of breastfeeding and milk expression is returning to work.
“Women often face inflexibility in their work hours and locations and a lack of privacy for breastfeeding or expressing milk, have no place to store expressed breast milk, are unable to find child care facilities at or near the workplace, face fears over job insecurity and have limited maternity leave benefits.”1
The Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite program helps employers overcome these barriers, assisting to develop a mother-friendly policy and environment. The designation process is simple, inexpensive and most employers find that they already have some or all of the criteria in place to be designated. For employers that are still developing their worksite policy, the program provides steps, resources and guidance to achieve designation.
Gold-level Worksite Designated Hospital
Valley Baptist Medical Center in Brownsville (VBMC-B) received a Gold-Worksite designation in the Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite program in 2018.
Samantha Martinez, clinical supervisor for children’s services at VBMC-B recalls that they used the opportunity for Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite designation to provide improved support to their employees while also strengthening the hospital’s culture of outstanding breastfeeding support to patients.
“Since we are recognized as a Texas Ten Step hospital, we want to maintain that culture of making sure moms are successful with breastfeeding, not just for our patients, but also making sure our employees and our staff have the same standards. Our standard is high. We expect our patients to breastfeed and hold the same standard for our employees.”
VBMC-B earned a Gold Level designation in the program by adding practical amenities such as a refrigerator, phone, providing educational support through a breastfeeding resource library, access to a lactation consultant and an informational bulletin board. Marimer Morales, a hospital lactation nurse, makes herself available to breastfeeding employees by phone and encourages employees returning to work after having a baby to come see her and talk about pumping and how they can do it successfully. “We want to provide our employees with the best possible support for them to provide their milk for their babies.”
Pamela Perez, a breastfeeding employee, is very grateful for the support she has received. “When I came back to work from maternity leave, Marimer Morales clarified a lot of questions and concerns that I had about how to breastfeed, how often to pump and how to save my milk.” She feels that the support she received allowed her to have a smooth transition back to work. “I hope that employees translate that support when they are helping their breastfeeding patients,” said Ms. Morales.
To learn more about the Texas Department of State Health Services’ Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite Program and Basic, Silver and Gold-level Worksite designations, visit TexasMotherFriendly.org.