Maternity Leave Duration and Full-time/Part-time Work Status Are Associated with US Mothers’ Ability to Meet Breastfeeding Intentions
Breastfeeding is known to provide significant health benefits for both infants and their mothers. However, while many women intend to breastfeed despite returning to work, this study finds that mothers who plan to breastfeed for at least three months but return to work full-time are less likely to meet their breastfeeding goals. Conversely, there is no association between women who return to work part-time and failure to reach the breastfeeding goal of at least three months.
Studying survey data from 1,172 U.S. mothers, study authors Kelsey Mirkovic, Cria Perrine, Kelley Scanlon, and Laurence Grummer-Strawn found that 28.8% of all women who intended to breastfeed for three months were unable to meet their goal. “Support for a mother’s delayed return to paid employment, or return at part-time hours, may help more mothers achieve their breastfeeding intentions,” the researchers wrote. “This may increase breastfeeding rates and have important public health implications for US mothers and infants.”
Background: Breastfeeding provides numerous health benefits for infants and mothers; however, many infants are not breastfed as long as recommended or desired by mothers. Maternal employment is frequently cited as a barrier to breastfeeding.
Objective: This study aimed to assess whether maternity leave duration and return status (full-time [FT], part-time [PT]) were associated with not meeting a mother’s intention to breastfeed at least 3 months. employed prenatally who intended to breastfeed 3 months or longer (n = 1172). Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess the relationship between maternity leave duration and return-to-work status (< 6 weeks/FT, < 6 weeks/PT, 6 weeks-3 months/FT, 6 weeks-3 months/PT, not working by 3 months) and meeting a mother’s intention to breastfeed at least 3 months.
Results: Overall, 28.8% of mothers did not meet their intention to breastfeed at least 3 months. Odds of not meeting intention to breastfeed at least 3 months were higher among mothers who returned to work FT before 3 months (< 6 weeks/FT: adjusted odds ratio = 2.25, 95% confidence interval, 1.23-4.12; 6 weeks-3 months/FT: adjusted odds ratio = 1.82, 95% confidence interval, 1.30-2.56), compared with mothers not working at 3 months.
Conclusion: Returning to work full-time before 3 months may reduce a mother’s ability to meet her intention to breastfeed at least 3 months. Employer support for flexible work scheduling may help more women achieve their breastfeeding goals.
FastTrack: Original Research: Brief Report: Kelsey R. Mirkovic, Cria G. Perrine, Kelley S. Scanlon, and Laurence M. Grummer-Strawn
Maternity Leave Duration and Full-time/Part-time Work Status Are Associated with US Mothers’ Ability to Meet Breastfeeding Intentions J Hum Lact 0890334414543522, first published on July 17, 2014 doi:10.1177/0890334414543522