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Breastfeeding task force aims to help working mothers

Created: 02/13/2014 11:10 PM
By: Ryan Luby, KOB Eyewitness News 4

There's fallout from a 4 On Your Side investigation on the Border Patrol that generated national headlines.

4 On Your Side reported on how a woman says the agency fired her for wanting to pump and store her breast milk at work.

There's now a new effort that will test federal and state breastfeeding laws in New Mexico.

New Mexico's Breastfeeding Task Force will survey 20,000 public and private businesses.

They don't want to punish anyone; they want to help New Mexico mothers who need to breastfeed.

Cindy Chavez is the coordinator of the task force. She says 85 percent of New Mexico's women breastfeed. In fact, New Mexico is one of the top ten states.

But Chavez says too many New Mexico employers do not give new mothers the time and space they need to nurse.

"Often, they just don't recognize that there is a federal law and a state law that protects their right -- the employee's right -- to pump at work," Chavez said.

Sophia Cruz says her bosses on the Border Patrol didn't get it either, and they didn't follow the agency's own Lactation Support Program.

The Border Patrol fired her for not taking a firearms test, but Cruz says the trouble truly started over her request for time and space for pumping breast milk.

Chavez says it's a sad scenario she's heard before.

That's why she's commissioning the survey.

She wants New Mexico employers to respond and answer honestly.

Are they aware of the breastfeeding laws?

Are they operating a breastfeeding-friendly workplace?

How much support do they give nursing mothers in time and money?

Again, Chavez does not want to punish employers who are not in compliance; she wants to help them change.

After all, she says it really doesn't cost a lot.

The task force is working with the University of New Mexico on the survey.

Beginning next week, they plan on contacting human resource managers, CEO's and department heads of New Mexico businesses.

To learn more about the survey, visit www.breastfeedingnewmexico.org or call 505-933-9163.


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