I was proud to witness the signing of the Breastfeeding Accommodation Bill by Philadelphia's Mayor Nutter at City Hall this week. GSK was invited to the event to give an industry perspective on how providing these accommodations will benefit new moms and businesses. It was eye-opening to find that there are companies that do not provide their employees who are nursing mothers with a private place and time at work to express breast milk for their babies.
My role for GSK’s Employee Health group includes managing our occupational health nurses and support staff, as well as overseeing the lactation rooms at Upper Merion, Renaissance, Upper Providence and The Navy Yard. GSK has been providing lactation rooms for nursing mothers for the last 15 years in the Philadelphia area. Our sites have private lactation rooms equipped with refrigerators for milk storage, sinks for washing breast pump parts, comfortable chairs, and hospital grade breast pumps for mothers who do not have their own personal pumps.
Letizia Amadini Lane, our GSK spokesperson at the signing, expressed GSK's philosophy perfectly when she said that "...we try to integrate home and work at GSK so that the new mother does not have to make a choice between breastfeeding and returning to work." We who work in Employee Health know that our new mothers face a difficult adjustment when they leave their babies to return to the workplace, and we want them to continue to bond and provide the best possible nutrition to the baby. Our lactation rooms are one of the many ways GSK provides a healthy and respectful workplace for employees.
I breastfed my own children many years ago and went on to become a Nursing Mothers Counselor. At that time “lactation rooms” at work were unheard of! As a strong proponent of breast feeding throughout the years, my children thought it was perfect that I could be there representing GSK Employee Health at the bill signing.
As Letizia said at the event: “Providing workplace accommodations for expressing milk is the right thing to do for our children, the leaders of tomorrow, and our working mothers, the leaders of today.”