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Paid Leave Can Predict How You'll Feed Your Baby

Paid Leave Can Predict How You'll Feed Your Baby

Most new moms know that breastfeeding is considered the best and healthiest nourishment to give their newborn babies and infants.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers breastfeed their infants for at least the first 6 months. 
But the fact is that many moms end up switching to formula before this because of varying issues. 

One predictor of how long a mother will breastfeed seems to depend greatly on how much paid maternity leave she is given.  A new study reported about in Reuters analyzes the affects of paid maternity leave and the length of time new mothers breastfeed.  The report points out that 72 percent of new moms in the US began breastfeeding their newborns in 2002, but only 35 percent were still breastfeeding by the time their infants reached 6 months. 

The researchers from the University of California at Berkeley interviewed 770 women living in California who were working full-time before having babies.  California is one of only five states that require employers to pay employees 12 weeks of paid maternity leave as well as an additional 6 weeks “for infant bonding.”

The researchers found the rate of breastfeeding among their subjects a lot higher than the national average.  Of the women interviewed, 82 percent began breastfeeding their babies at birth while 65 percent were still breastfeeding months later.  Women who returned to work within 6 weeks of delivery were 3.4 times more likely to stop breastfeeding than those who had longer leaves. 

Under the law of most states in the US, employers must allow women 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave.  For many, unpaid maternity leave is not an option.  Dr. Sylvia Guendelman who helped conduct the study believes the findings suggest that “merely establishing maternity leave policies without encouraging their use and making them economically feasible do not suffice to promote breastfeeding success.”  

Canada recently changed their paid maternity leave laws from 6 months to a full year.  Guendelman noted Canada’s success when she said, “Studies in Canada evaluating this policy are showing breastfeeding increases by about one third of a month by every month the mom is not at work.”

What do you think of the latest study showing that more paid maternity leave leads to an increase in breastfeeding?

Do you think more states should enact paid maternity leave laws as a way to promote breastfeeding? 

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  • s032982 By s032982

    I do not think it is all about work. Sometimes it matters the stiuation of the child if they can take the breastmilk. Especially for premature babies they need more calories then a full term baby. I think it has to be realalistic from a work perspective and a personal perspective.

  • kikirose78 By kikirose78

    I was lucky to be able to stay home and nurse both of my children 1year+. If I had to return to work I would have had to switch to formula since pumping would not have been an option for me(-I delt with recurrent Mastitis both times) BFing has so many benefits for mother and child it is horribly sad to me that mothers have to choose.

  • momsaver1 By momsaver1

    Of course moms b-feed longer if they don't have to go back to work and try to squeeze in pumping in bathrooms and other strange places.

  • laguna_dreamz By laguna_dreamz

    Breastfeeding didnt work for me at all. I was forced to stop at 2months. I had been laid off from my job because I had not been there long enough to qualify for for maternity leave, which was not fair! I told them I needed the six weeks for the baby and they said that if I tried to come back there wouldnt be a job for me. So, we only had one income which was NOT enough to pay rent, we were getting evicted and havign to try to find a smaller cheaper place to live, I was STRESSED out and couldnt even eat, therefore was not producing the milk. My daughter starved!!! They switched her to formula very quickly!! after that she began sleeping through the nights, and gained five pounds in a month!!! As wonderful and healthful as people say breastfeeding is...I have to say that in MY situation, it was for the best that she was on formula. My daughter never got sick! Plus, she is only 3 and can already read and do simple math problems! She is sooooo smart, its crazy!

  • marykerbie By marykerbie

    I had 9 weeks of paid maternity leave. When I came back to work, I was given a 15 minute break in the morning and afternoon to pump. I was lucky enough that I was able to go see my son at lunch and breast feed him. Still, I was only able to breast feed until he was 9 months old. It was getting harder and harder to pump any amount worth saving and he was basically refusing the breast also. I had a surplus of breastmilk built up so we just mixed the breast milk with formula for the next 3 months. Babies were born to be breastfed. I wish more employers and people in general would understand that and have compassion with breastfeeding mothers. I know some women are unable to no matter how much they try, my sister-in-law wasn't able to produce enough to sustain my nephew and had to switch to formula. But for those that can, they should be able to have the time given to them to continue to breastfeed without being looked down upon.

  • strangerpants By strangerpants

    I feel so fortunate to live in Canada where I get 1 year of paid leave. I have so much respect for the women who have to go back to work so soon and pumped. I know that pumping is not easy for everyone. I produce a lot of milk and was able to build up a nice little stash. Then almost over night my supply tanked and I feel like I don't even produce enough to satisfy my sons hunger. I have just started supplement formula into his diet but still mostly breastfeed. He is 8months old. I definately think that if I were back at work already we would be formula feeding a lot more. I for sure see a correlation between length of time off and how a baby is fed. I think it would be a great idea if more companies had in work child care but I don't see that happening any time soon.

  • qivuit By qivuit

    I am continually appalled by the backward way that the US approaches family values. Even Canada who has been improving does not come near Germany's standard of 3 years family leave. I think that this study, while it shows a very important point about the issue of breastfeeding points to a larger issue at hand. I think if we paid more attention to our children as a society and made raising them with support more of a priority things would certainly be better. And also, I just have to say that I think it's shameful that a family would have to do with less income during a time in their lives when they actually need more money... I would support all states making more support maternity leave and paternity leave laws to promote not only breastfeeding, but family cohesion as a whole.

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