Employment and breastfeeding outcomes in a sample of black women in the United States
Black women have lower rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration than other racial groups have, but the effects of employment on breastfeeding, specifically for Black women, have not been studied extensively. The purpose of this research was to determine the influence of work or maternity leave on breastfeeding duration in a sample of Black women. Participants were recruited in the first postpartum week, and then followed monthly for six months or until complete weaning. The timing of returning to work significantly influenced the risk of weaning. Women who returned to work prior to 12 weeks were more likely to wean their babies than both those who returned to work after 12 weeks as well as those who remained at home. Policies that allow for at least 12 weeks' maternity leave would be likely to increase breastfeeding duration for employed Black women. Interdisciplinary research is needed to address health and economic issues of maternity leave and to eliminate racial disparities.
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