For new moms, returning to work raises fresh questions and challenges.
There's the pangs of separation. The sleep deprivation. And then there's something we don't talk about very often: breast-feeding.
We'll get back to earnings reports and economic development in a few days, but today we'll take on an issue that can be just as beneficial to employers as it is to mothers.
This week is World Breast-feeding Week, a good time to draw attention to the steps companies can take to help women balance motherhood with their jobs.
It's an issue that is near to my heart — I continued to breast-feed for several months after I returned from maternity leave at the beginning of this year.
And with the recession forcing companies to eye every dollar and cut back on benefits, accommodating breast-feeding mothers is a low-cost way to improve worker satisfaction.
All women need from their bosses is a private room (preferably with a lock on it) and a little flexibility with their schedules so that they can take a break or two during the workday to pump milk for their babies.
I was lucky enough to have this kind of support at work, but more than 40 percent of women said they did not in a 2007 study by the National Women's Health Resource Center and a Swiss company, Medela.
The survey found that 45 percent of women did not have access to a private room and 41 percent had an inflexible work schedule.
Another 37 percent cited the lack of a separate refrigerator to store breast milk as the third-biggest physical barrier to breast-feeding, though I found that a small cooler under my desk did the trick.
Breast-feeding is on the rise in the United States, with more hospitals offering more education on its benefits.
In fact, 74 percent of women initiated breast-feeding with their newborns in 2005, and 43 percent continued to breast-feed at least part-time six months later. That's compared with just 68 percent who initiated breast-feeding in 1999 and the 33 percent who continued to do so six months later, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That means more companies will face this issue more often.
Women and their babies aren't the only winners when employers are encouraging.
According to the Business Case for Breast-feeding published by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, employers who provide the right environments experience lower health-insurance costs and claims for women and their infants, lower turnover rates, less absenteeism, improved productivity, and increased company loyalty.
This month my daughter turns 1 and, looking back, I'm grateful for a supportive workplace — and husband. I won't say I've found the perfect work-life balance (most days are lopsided one way or the other), but it's a start that more women deserve.
Solar offer cooling off?The effort to lure Ohio manufacturer Willard & Kelsey Solar Group to town has gone quiet, though sources say officials are still considering ways to sweeten the pot.
Word is local executives will talk again to the company's top leaders this week.
Orlando originally pieced together a package valued at about $31 million for the solar-panel company to bring operations here from a suburb outside of Toledo. The money would be doled out over a period of years in the form of tax credits, rebates and job-creation grants.
Ohio officials are hoping to keep the company there with a smaller dollar amount — $15.5 million — but in the much-preferred form of up-front loans and cash.
Willard & Kelsey, which had a little national exposure in June when Vice President Joe Biden toured its plant, says its expansion would create about 3,500 jobs.
Beth Kassab can be reached at bkassab@ orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5448. Read her blog at orlandosentinel.com/thebottomline.Copyright © 2015, CT Now