Homegrown with Hope: Baby-at-Work Programs help new families succeed

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Thousands of parents across the country are finding a way to balance family and career at the same time. In this week's Homegrown with Hope, we learn how office programs are helping parents fill both needs.

Jessica Honrud came back to work a few months after having her first child, Mia, feeling what many parents do.

"It was hard thinking about being away from her," Jessica said.

There's a job for which she'll clock in and one she won't. There's a job from which she'll take home a paycheck and one that will take everything she has. Both require her attention.

"You go back to work and it's like you're not with them for eight hours and it's hard for first-time moms," she said.

A study by Parenting in the Workplace says more than 100 American companies have adopted programs to allow moms like Jessica bring babies under six months to work with them. Managers and colleagues at KFYR-TV were excited to help Jessica and baby Mia make this transition.

"They were open arms about it," she said. "I think I'm the first one to have a baby here in 15 years or so. So, it's kind of a test run for them too."

Employees from similar programs across the country have reported the infant-at-work programs rarely lead to a drop in productivity.

"It's fun. You'll hear her squeak every now and again, and you kind of forget she's here," Angie Miller, a marketing consultant at KFYR-TV, said.

At this age, many babies are just sleeping and eating all day. But, the impact of keeping mom and baby close during the fourth trimester can help set them both up for success.

The case is especially true for Mia, who was born premature.

"She was born with hip dysplasia so she wore a harness for the first month or so of her life," Jessica explained.

Her hips required a little more attention from mom to help her sleep. Jessica says she is grateful she can provide that care while balancing tasks at work.

"It gives me peace of mind, sitting at my desk knowing I'm still working but she is rocking right behind me if she needs my help. I can just turn around and I'm right there," said Jessica.

The movement to recognize parenthood in the workplace is gaining momentum. Millennial moms overwhelmingly want society to do a better job supporting them, according to Motherly's 2018 State of Motherhood Survey. 20 percent said a shift toward flexible work culture would be the best way to do that.

In this office, work is being done on many fronts to reach that reality.

Jessica says she is thankful for the family values in her workplace.

"We're like one big, happy family around here," she says of her coworkers will lend a helping hand when she needs it.

There are other ways employers can support new parents, if a baby-at-work program isn't right for your situation.

A study from Aeroflow Healthcare suggested nearly half of expectant moms worried they'd have to choose between breastfeeding and job growth.

That's despite a legal requirement to provide time and non-bathroom space to pump. Forty-seven percent of women considered their pumping accommodations so bad, they'd consider seeking a new job.