Mirkovic KR, Perrine CG, Scanlon KS, Grummer-Strawn LM. Maternity leave duration and full-time/part-time work status are associated with US mothers’ ability to meet breastfeeding intentions. J Hum Lact. 2014 Nov;30(4):416-9. doi: 10.1177/0890334414543522. Epub 2014 Jul 17. PubMed PMID: 25034868; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4593053.
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.
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.
We used data from the Infant Feeding Practices Study II, a cohort study. Analyses were limited to women 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.
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.
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.
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