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Keeping Mom and Baby Safe in the Workplace

Aside from the usual controversies that breastfeeding mothers are already faced with in the workplace, there are some potentially more dangerous hazards they should be aware of. What a mother knowingly (or sometimes unknowingly) ingests can be transferred to her baby through her breast milk. In some cases, during their return to work following childbirth, some mothers may face increased potential risks from chemical exposure in their place of employment. It is crucial that pregnant and breastfeeding women are made aware of the possible harm these exposures can cause, and the appropriate precautions to take in order to keep both Mom and Baby healthy and safe.

According to 'Centers for Disease Control and Prevention' some of the chemicals you should look out for include:

Lead, Mercury, and other heavy metals

Some careers with greater exposure potential: artists, auto repair, construction, painters, plumbers, steel welder

Organic Solvents and Volatile Organic Chemicals "VOC's" (such as dioxane, perchloroethylene, bromochloromethane, and formaldehyde)

Some careers with greater exposure potential: dry cleaners, cleaners, firefighters, anatomy and mortuary science laboratory workers

Chemicals from smoke, fires, or tobacco

Some careers with greater exposure potential: firefighters

Some radioactive chemicals used in hospitals for radiation therapy (such as Iodine-131)

Some careers with greater exposure potential: doctors, nurses, radiologist technicians, military

Pesticides

Some careers with greater exposure potential: farmers, greenhouse workers, veterinarians, veterinary workers, and animal handlers, landscapers, lawn/pest service providers

Not all chemicals can get into a mother’s breast milk, nor are all chemicals harmful to the human body, but it is important for expectant mothers to assess their workplace surroundings and take the proper precautions necessary. "Breastfeeding is very good for your baby’s health, and most working mothers can safely breastfeed their babies. For the vast majority of women the benefits of breastfeeding appear to far outweigh the risks" (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

'The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health' recommends: If you have questions about breastfeeding and your chemical exposures at work, keep breastfeeding your baby while you take these steps:

  1. TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR OR A HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL
  2. PROTECT YOUR HOME AND YOUR FAMILY
  3. WEAR THE APPROPRIATE PPE
  4. CHECK THE SAFETY DATA SHEET (SDS)

How can MySDS help?

  • By providing a chemical inventory, you will know what potential risks are on-hand
  • Managing your SDS sheets in one simple online location so any potential hazards can be searched easily
  • First Aid and PPE information are readily available

Information sourced from:

Royal Society of Chemistry, https://www.rsc.org/search-results/?q=breastfeeding

The National Center for Biotechnology Information, Armstrong Laboratory, Toxicology Division, Wright-Patterson AFB https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9183837

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Reproductive Health and the Workplace https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/repro/specificexposures.html , https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/repro/breastfeeding.html