Is lactating in the ED a letdown?
Promoting the success of new mothers returning to work in the emergency department is imperative to the success of the department as a whole, and the well-being of the mother. A department can choose how they encourage and support the lactation goals of a mom through their official policies and their workplace culture.
As both mothers and physicians, we strive to do what’s best for those in our care. For our patients, that includes endless hours in the ED, stress, concern, care, love, and patience. We are often expected to place our own families on the back burners while we care for our patients. As mothers, for our children, our dedication is the same; endless hours, devotion, love, and patience. But when our jobs hinder our ability to care for our children while attending to others, we’ve lost ourselves to our jobs, and in the end we’ll end up losing more.
In our recent study, titled, “Is Lactating in the Emergency Department a Letdown? Exploring Barriers and Supports to Workplace Lactation in Emergency Medicine,” we found that while formalized workplace lactation policies aid mothers in wanting to return to work, many mothers still experience barriers to their lactation goals.
Our study was designed to explore the social and environmental conditions in the emergency department that contribute to perceived barriers and supports for workplace lactation among various individuals working in emergency medicine.
Our study illuminated the many barriers that mom’s face when attempting to lactate at work; a lack of convenient and clean space, and a work environment that does not always create the time to step away. It’s time we take a look at the policies and systems that are in place regarding lactation habits so we can better support the women who do everything for not only their patients, but their babies.