Employees and managers at five factories of the global fashion retailer Inditex implemented a workplace lactation support program with support from Alive & Thrive that improved awareness of recommended breastfeeding practices and increased staff satisfaction among more than 3,500 female workers.
“Mothers are often forced to choose between earning an income for their families and breastfeeding their children,” said Ms. Luu Thi Quyen, Program Officer for Private Sector, Alive & Thrive in East Asia Pacific. “Many workers in Asia’s readymade garment industry do not receive the support they need to continue breastfeeding when they return to work after maternity leave. We are very pleased to support Inditex to address this significant issue for their workers.”
Recognizing the importance of supporting female workers to continue breastfeeding when they return to work, Alive & Thrive collaborated with Inditex to launch workplace lactation support programs at three supplier factories in Viet Nam and two supplier factories in Cambodia. Alive & Thrive worked with Inditex and factory management to successfully implement the program, which has generated numerous promising results, company employees and managers said.
“Getting to know Doctor Thy (doctor from Alive & Thrive) is my good fortune,” said a pregnant employee at a garment factory in Hai Phong, Vietnam. “Since I was pregnant, I’ve watched a lot of her videos about breastfeeding and learned a lot of helpful information. Due to my twin pregnancy, I was really anxious, but after consulting with Ms. Thy, I feel a lot more at ease.”
Under the program, factories were advised to develop or modify labor policies to support breastfeeding employees at work and to comply with host-country regulations. Breastfeeding and nutrition coaching sessions were held with employees, managers, and infirmary staff. In these sessions, health experts addressed common misconceptions about breastfeeding and answered numerous questions related to maternal and child health and feeding recommendations in the context of COVID-19.
Following these sessions, employees were able to receive further information and one-on-one support via messenger applications and over the phone.
Along with equipping workers with evidence-based breastfeeding information, Alive & Thrive worked with factories to install or upgrade their lactation rooms, which provide mothers with a private and comfortable space to express and store milk or breastfeed during breaks. The lactation rooms of five factories were officially opened in 2022, marking a significant step forward in demonstrating factories’ commitment to promoting the health of workers and their children.
According to a survey conducted by Alive & Thrive in the five factories during late 2022, workplace lactation support interventions have improved awareness of recommended breastfeeding practices by up to 79% and increased staff satisfaction by up to 62%.
Workplace lactation support is a component of Alive & Thrive’s Healthy Workplace Program. Investments by employers to improve working conditions, set up lactation rooms, and provide support to female employees can improve productivity, reduce turnover, and create a more stable and satisfied workforce.