Nursing moms who travel for business often find themselves in a bind.
To keep their milk production up, they need to continue expressing milk, but there is no easy way to send it home to their baby. Breast milk needs to be shipped quickly in temperature-controlled packages in order to be safe enough for their babies to consume.
Shipping the milk home is inconvenient. Sites like Breastfeeding in Combat Boots offer in-depth tutorials for how to freeze milk and package it to send it home; the process is both time-intensive and also requires women to have styrofoam boxes and electric coolers handy.
Most women simply throw away the milk that they pump on the road, which is a waste of valuable nutrients. It can also be a waste of time, since some women need half an hour or more to complete a pumping cycle.
However, IBM has just announced a plan to help nursing moms easily send breast milk home while they are on business travel in an effort to attract and retain more female workers. The company is still unsure how many women will take advantage of this benefit, but an IBM spokesperson said that they would run the program even if only a few working moms found it valuable.
IBM believes it is the first employer to offer a service like this to its staff. If it is successful, other companies may follow suit. It may also prompt shipping companies to develop easier packaging and systems for women to ship breast milk.