Juggling Work and Breastfeeding: Effects of Maternity Leave and Occupational Characteristics

University of California, Maternal and Child Health Program, School of Public Health, Berkeley, CA 94720-7360, USA.
PEDIATRICS (Impact Factor: 5.47). 02/2009; 123(1):e38-46. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2008-2244
Source: PubMed


Juggling breastfeeding and paid work can challenge breastfeeding success. We examined the relationship between breastfeeding and maternity leave before and after delivery among working mothers in Southern California. California is 1 of only 5 states in the United States providing paid pregnancy leave that can be extended for infant bonding.
Drawing from a case-control study of preterm birth and low birth weight, 770 full-time working mothers were compared on whether they established breastfeeding in the first month. For those who established breastfeeding, we examined duration. Eligible women participated in California's Prenatal Screening Program; delivered live births between July 2002 and December 2003; were > or =18 years old; had a singleton birth without congenital anomalies; and had a US mailing address. We assessed whether maternity leave and other occupational characteristics predicted breastfeeding cessation and used multivariate regression models weighted for probability of sampling to calculate odds ratios for breastfeeding establishment and hazards ratios for breastfeeding cessation.
A maternity leave of < or =6 weeks or 6 to 12 weeks after delivery was associated, respectively, with a fourfold and twofold higher odds of failure to establish breastfeeding and an increased probability of cessation after successful establishment, relative to women not returning to work, after adjusting for covariates. The impact of short postpartum leave on breastfeeding cessation was stronger among nonmanagers, women with inflexible jobs, and with high psychosocial distress. Antenatal leave in the last month of pregnancy was not associated with breastfeeding establishment or duration.
Postpartum maternity leave may have a positive effect on breastfeeding among full-time workers, particularly those who hold nonmanagerial positions, lack job flexibility, or experience psychosocial distress. Pediatricians should encourage patients to take maternity leave and advocate for extending paid postpartum leave and flexibility in working conditions for breastfeeding women.

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    • "The multivariate analysis showed that mothers who resumed work when their baby was older than 3 months were 1.6 times more likely to provide exclusive breastfeeding compared with mothers who resumed work when their baby was 3 months or younger (AOR = 1.61; 95% CI 1.24, 2.35). Similar findings were obtained in other studies done in Nigeria [15,26] and Saudi Arabia [27]. In addition to inadequate maternity leave policy; lack of child care facilities at or near the work place and rigid time schedules that do not allow for nursing breaks, were other reasons mentioned by the respondents for early initiation of complementary feeding. "
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    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · International Breastfeeding Journal
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    • "However, most debates on employment and the newly maternal, breastfeeding body take place outside the arena of management studies. Generally speaking, considerations of breastfeeding and employment may be found in journals relating to health and medicine, sociology, health geography and women's and cultural studies (Bailey and Pain 2001; Earle 2002; Galtry 1997; Gatrell 2007b; Giles 2004; Guendelman et al. 2009; Hausman 2004; Murphy 2003; Ortiz et al. 2004; Shaw 2004; Witters- Green 2003; Wolf 2006). Research on breastfeeding and employment is only now beginning to edge its way into journals conventionally associated with management (e.g. "
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    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · Human Relations
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    • "The likelihood of extending maternity leave or quitting work is greater for a mother who breastfeeds her child compared to one who formula-feeds, all else being similar, because breastfeeding is less compatible with paid work and business travel. In fact, quantitative research shows a positive association between length of maternity leave and breastfeeding rates in Canada (Baker and Milligan 2008) and the United States (Guendelman et al. 2009). If women quit work entirely to have extended breastfeeding time with their babies, they lose earnings in the short-term that they would have made if they had not quit. "
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