A new study of working mothers in the U.S. has shown that breastfeeding numbers are still very low.
Earlier this year the U.S. government’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau funded a study on parents who juggle work and families. The numbers collected from that study showed a shockingly low percentage of successful breastfeeding. While a reported 43 percent of infants were breastfeeding at 6 months, only 14 percent were exclusively breastfeeding during that time.
By 12 months the number had dropped to only 23 percent still getting some breastmilk.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for at least 6 months, then continuing breastfeeding until the child is at least 12 months old. The World Health Organization states breastfeeding should continue for at least 2 years. This recent study shows that the U.S. is lagging in proper breastfeeding support for mothers.
Sylvia Guendelman, professor at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health feels the lack of a supportive maternity leave policy is to blame. Guendelman looked at 770 working mothers and found that those with short maternity leaves or inflexible schedules were more like to end breastfeeding early.
Guendelman hopes this new information will encourage health officials to strongly advocate for better maternity leave and breastfeeding-friendly workplace policies. The numbers show that states with laws protecting breastfeeding mothers do yield higher rates. One example is Oregon, which allows for 30-minute breaks for mothers to pump milk during work, which has the highest breastfeeding rate at six months at 37 percent.
While there are many obstacles to mothers successfully breastfeeding, this recent study suggests that workplace policies can be large hindrances to new mothers.
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