News release: MDH recognizes breastfeeding-friendly workplaces, counties and medical centers

News Release
October 26, 2015

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MDH recognizes breastfeeding-friendly workplaces, counties and medical centers

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has named seven employers, two county health departments and one maternity center breastfeeding friendly for their contributions to the health and well-being of mothers and their babies.

“We commend these organizations for helping to ensure that Minnesota’s children have a healthy start,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “Women with children are among the fastest growing segments of the U.S. workforce, so there is a strong business and public health case for encouraging breastfeeding in the workplace.”

Breastfeeding is a foundational way to ensure that babies receive optimal nutrition during their first years of life. Studies show infants who are breastfed have better health outcomes as they grow.

The employers recognized were:

  • Carlton County
  • CentraCare Health St. Cloud Hospital
  • Cummins Power Generation
  • Cuyuna Regional Medical Center
  • Hastings Public Schools
  • Lakewood Health System
  • Mercy Hospital, Moose Lake

The county health departments recognized were:

  • Dakota County
  • Freeborn County

The maternity center recognized was:

  • Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center, Brainerd

Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center joins seven maternity centers that previously received the award.

This is the first year of the awards program, which was created and is supported by the state Women, Infants and Children program (WIC) and the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP).  Application materials are available at Breastfeeding Friendly for those seeking to nominate employers for the next round of awards in 2016.

A national study by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health found room to improve on supporting breastfeeding mothers at workplaces. According to the study, fewer than half of breastfeeding mothers who return to work after giving birth reported having access to basic accommodations of time and space to express breast milk at work. MDH is recognizing workplaces, county health departments and maternity centers that have demonstrated their commitment to supporting breastfeeding mothers.

Launched in 2008 as part of Minnesota’s bipartisan health reform effort, SHIP works to help Minnesotans live longer, healthier lives while building healthy, vital communities. SHIP encourages healthy eating, active living and avoiding commercial tobacco use by working with school, communities, workplaces and health care to make healthy choices easier. Employers looking for assistance to support employees who are breastfeeding mothers should contact SHIP staff through at their local public health office.


Media inquiries:

Scott Smith
MDH Communications