Many Women Quit Breast-Feeding Early

Women who had access to workplace benefits such as paid maternity leave or a private office might have greater success, noted Chris Mulford, a retired lactation consultant in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and member of the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee, a nonprofit group. "They're usually more able to sustain breast-feeding as they return to work than women who work without their own office, without a place at the job where they can express their milk," she said.

Laws related to breast-feeding in the workplace are in place in 24 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. An Oregon law, for example, allows women to take a 30-minute, unpaid break during each four-hour shift to breast-feed or pump. Oregon has the highest rate of breast-feeding at 12 months, at 37 percent, and the second-highest rate of breast-feeding at six months, at 63 percent, after Utah, where the rate is 69.5 percent, according to the CDC.

All things considered, though, working moms might have a tougher time with breast-feeding than women who are able to take more time with their infants, said Kay Hoover, a lactation consultant at a Philadelphia-area hospital. "If you're separated from your baby, it's hard to maintain milk production," she said.

Guendelman said she would like physicians to advocate for extended postpartum maternity leaves for working women. "If you know you have some time off," she said, "you are more likely to establish breast-feeding in the first 30 days and not just give up so quickly."

More information

The National Women's Health Information Center has more on breast-feeding.

SOURCES: Sylvia Guendelman, Ph.D., chairwoman, maternal and child health program, and professor, community health and urban development, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley; Chris Mulford, B.S.N., I.B.C.L.C., retired lactation consultant, Delaware County, Pa., member, U.S. Breastfeeding Committee, and co-chairman, Business Case for Breastfeeding project, Pennsylvania Breastfeeding Coalition; Kay Hoover, M.Ed., I.B.C.L.C., lactation consultant, Philadelphia; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta (; National Conference of State Legislatures, Denver; University of California, news release, Jan 5, 2009; February 2005, Pediatrics; January 2009, Pediatrics

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