Moms working long hours give up breastfeeding sooner, says study

Moms working long hours give up breastfeeding sooner, says study

By offering paid leave or flexible working schedules, employers also avoid having to replace moms forced to choose their baby's health over their job.

If it were up to new mothers, they’d just stay at home to care for their infant. Sadly, the real world comes calling sooner rather than later: there are bills to be paid and a day job to go back to.

So she returns to work even before she’s ready, juggling her professional and personal life the way most mothers do.

Unfortunately, working long hours makes it harder for mothers to breastfeed, says a new research.

“Mothers working 19 or fewer hours a week were much more likely to maintain breast-feeding through their babies' sixth month of life, compared to moms who had returned to full-time employment,” said lead researcher Ning Xiang from the University of Queensland Institute for Social Science Research, in Australia.

"Women employed up to 19 hours a week only faced a 10 percent chance that they quit breast-feeding altogether by their baby's sixth month," said a CBS News report.

Compare this to the 45 percent chance of stopping for mothers who worked between 20 hours and 34 hours a week.

Meanwhile, moms with a weekly schedule of 35 work hours had a 60 percent chance of ceasing breastfeeding altogether.

Ning Xiang said that new mothers should be able to spend more time with their infants so that they could establish and maintain breastfeeding.

Another point that the research tackled is the time spent during maternity leaves.

Governments, the research also encouraged, should consider delaying new mothers’ return to work.

Employers, too, should carry some responsibility: they should be encouraged to be lactation-friendly and to provide flexible work arrangements.

“Many women are going back to work much sooner than their milk supplies would like them to do,” said lactation consultant Diana West said.

Many women have difficulty in the first few weeks and months, she added. When they do get into it, suddenly they found that they had to go back to work to keep their health insurance and pay their bills.

“By offering paid leave or flexible working schedules, employers also avoid having to replace moms forced to choose their baby's health over their job,” Diana added. “When we have happy employees, then the companies don't have to replace that position and retrain and rehire.”

READ: More pregnant women and new mothers are discriminated at work

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James Martinez

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