August 1-7th 2023 marks World Breastfeeding Week, an event which aims to highlight the benefits that breastfeeding can bring to the health and wellbeing of both children and mothers. 

According to the NHS website, exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for around the first six months of a child’s life, and then alongside the introduction of solid food following this period. It’s therefore likely that many working mothers will still be breastfeeding or expressing their milk once they return to t

Bearing this in mind, John Johnston, Head of E-Commerce at Workwear Express, the UK’s leading provider of Workwear clothing, outlines how employers and businesses can ensure that breastfeeding staff members who choose to express during work hours can comfortably do so, and why their uniform is key for making this an accessible option in the modern workplace:

“Here in the UK, employers have certain legal obligations to breastfeeding members of staff. They are required to allow sufficient break allowances for mothers to express milk, provide a clean, warm and private space for them to be able to express, offer access to secure and hygienic fridge for storage of expressed milk, and provide flexible working hours for breastfeeding mothers.

“Providing these settings to mothers also provides certain benefits to employers. It will work towards increasing staff morale and loyalty, particularly within companies or businesses that employ a high rate of females of a childbearing age, which can also act as an additional incentive for potential future employees when searching for a company that reflects their values. According the The Breastfeeding Network, studies have also indicated that employers who provide a breastfeeding friendly workplace benefit by witnessing reduced time off for illness, as breastfeeding has a significant positive impact on the health of both women and their children.

“With millions of UK employees working across such sectors as retail, hospitality, and healthcare required to wear a uniform as part of their job roles, companies are able to make the process of returning to work a little easier on those who choose to express at work, by ensuring that female workwear is as accessible and breastfeeding-friendly as possible.

“Businesses should prioritise offering female employees comfortable and functionable uniform options, with buttons or zips that allow them to easily pump or express at their place of work. The materials used for these uniforms should be easy to wipe clean in case of any spillages or leaks that may occur during expressing. If possible, uniforms should also be offered in colours that do not easily stain, as to avoid potential embarrassment.

“A work dress that offers the perfect blend of comfort and versatility, and is designed to flatter a wide range of body types that is neither too fitting nor too loose, can be a welcome addition to the wardrobe of new mothers when they return to work. For those operating in more casual settings, polo shirts made with breathable material that can be stretched when required are also solid choices for employers to opt for.

“Finally, in order to ensure that mothers who choose to express at work feel as confident as possible upon their return to work after giving birth, it is advisable to provide them with a work jacket or fleece that can keep them as comfortable and warm as possible, as they make the transition back into work. Many new mothers experience a crisis in body confidence following pregnancy and childbirth, so enforcing uniforms that may be deemed as too tight or restrictive could have a negative impact on their wellbeing and ability to carry out their work duties effectively.”

Those looking to improve the workwear options provided to their female members of staff or are considering how to make staff uniforms more accommodating to breastfeeding mothers can visit Workwear Express to scope out their customisable range of female focused clothing and offerings. 

heir place of work, following their maternity leave.