Women Resuming Work Earlier Less Likely to Breastfeed says Study

A research conducted by Georgia Department of Health suggests that the sooner a mother starts working post delivery the less likely she is to breastfeed her baby. The study also shows that those resuming work after nine months or a minimum of 13 weeks are more willing to breastfeed their babies for a long time.

Study author Chinelo Ogbuanu found out that new moms who resumed work within six weeks of their baby’s birth were less likely to start breastfeeding and even if they did, they were less likely to continue. In comparison, moms who stayed at home from 13 weeks to nine months before returning to work breastfed their babies for at least three months or more.

“We would encourage all women to attempt to breastfeed and continue as long as they can,” said study author Chinelo Ogbuanu.

Many researchers have proven that breastfed babies have lower rates of a number of pediatric illnesses, including eczema, middle-ear infections, pneumonia and asthma. It is also known that continuing to breastfeed increases the milk flow gradually in mothers and therefore the failed attempts initially should not discourage them.

The researcher also noted that when moms are away at work, their supply may begin to dwindle.

“No matter how effective a breast pump is, it’s not as effective as an infant,” Ogbuanu told Reuters Health.

She suggests that instead of breaking their maternity leaves, women can opt to take it at once. They can also try and keep their baby as close to the workplace as possible so they can breastfeed them during breaks.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently, just seven of every 10 women in the United States breastfeed their babies at all, and just three of every 10 continue for a full six months.

The team reviewed information collected from 6,150 women who worked before giving birth. They were asked about how long they had breastfed and when they returned to work.

The authors found that about seven of every 10 mothers who were still home nine months later had tried to breastfeed, compared to six of 10 who went back to work within one to six weeks after delivery.

The researchers did not look at the amount of breastfeeding with total maternity leave taken by mother, paid or unpaid but instead on how long a women spent at home before resuming work after the baby was born.

They thus concluded that if women delayed returning to work they might be encouraged more to try to breastfeed and continue doing so for at least six months.

Some experts though feel that the research is confusing as they did not analyse the total maternity leave take by the mother.

“Based on their findings, I would not necessarily say going back to work causes some women to stop breastfeeding,” said Hawley Montgomery-Downs of West Virginia University.

It is still an overview of how mothers going back to work earlier become easily discouraged to breastfeed in spite of all the good it can do to their baby. Working and breastfeeding can be managed together if  new moms take advantage of their breaks to pump while they are away from their baby.

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About the author


Atula is a writer, traveler and a nature-lover. She is also mom to a boy who seems to have inherited all her creative genes. When Atula is not busy making up stories with her son, she writes for numerous magazines, websites and blogs. She is also working on her site on endangered species called indiasendangered.com.

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