Since the Surgeon General’s Workshop in 1984, much has happened to advance the protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding for families in the United States. These efforts include the American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement on Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk (1997), the introduction of the Maloney Bill in 1998, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) State Performance Measures, the National Breastfeeding Policy Conference (1998) and the establishment of the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) as recommended in the Innocenti Declaration (1990).

Although the promotion of breastfeeding has well-established public health goals stated in the Healthy People 1990, 2000, and 2010 National Health Objectives, progress toward these goals has been slow, and disparities remain. As a result of these disparities, the Surgeon General of the United States issued a call to action -- Health and Human Services (HHS) Blueprint for Action on Breastfeeding (2000). The Blueprint called for breastfeeding facilitation and support in the health care system, the workplace, the family and community and research agencies.

The USBC Strategic Plan Protecting, Promoting, and Supporting Breastfeeding in the United States: A National Agenda, and the HHS Blueprint for Action on Breastfeeding are linked to provide a synergistic approach that will benefit America’s mothers and children. The USBC has developed a comprehensive strategic plan and well-defined implementation strategies. Goal IV of the USBC Strategic Plan, to increase protection, promotion and support for breastfeeding mothers in the work force, has been the focus of the USBC Work Place Breastfeeding Support Work Group (WBSWG). Members of this group represent the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Association of Military Surgeons of the United Stares (AMSUS), Best Start Social Marketing, Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Indian Health Service (IHS), National Association of Pediatric Nurse Associates and Practitioners (NAPNAP), National Business Group on Health (NBGH), National WIC Association (NWA), UCLA School of Public Health, and the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA).

With support from the MCHB, the USBC produced an issue paper, Workplace Breastfeeding Support, that proposed certain basic, enhanced, and comprehensive components of a workplace breastfeeding support program in terms of facilities, policies, and staff education.

The WBSWG researched evidence-based practices for as well as business models that provided workplace breastfeeding support. After literature, expert opinions and testimonials were reviewed, the need for evaluating components of workplace breastfeeding support programs became evident. What was found to be lacking were details of components that each model featured as well as a more quantitative evidence of the impact of these components from a corporate and public health perspective.

Therefore, a checklist of components was developed by the expert panel to be used as a uniform tool for describing and evaluating work place breastfeeding support programs. Using this checklist, individual employees or employers could rate their own programs. Researchers and advocates would be able to compare the components and effectiveness of different programs.

This USBC Workplace Breastfeeding Support issue paper is available at <www.usbreastfeeding.org>. The checklist, Accommodations for Breastfeeding in the Workplace, is available by e-mailing <wbswg@usbreastfeeding.org>.