Is This Why 30% of Moms Give Up Breastfeeding?

New Study Says Women Who Breastfeed Lose Earning Power

Posted by The Baby News

 The longer American women breastfeed their infants, the more money they lose at work. That’s the message of a new study published last week.

Sociologists studied 1,313 mothers who gave birth between 1980 and 1993. Moms who breastfed 6 months or more suffered "severe and prolonged earning losses" compared to those who breastfed less or not at all. What’s more, the loss of earning power continued over the first 5 years of the child's life.

The American Sociological Review lays out the findings: Breastfeeding moms tend to be managers or professionals – possibly because professional's higher incomes offer some cushion against plunging earnings. And they tend to be married to college-educated men with incomes that can support the family during an extended maternal leave.

Government stats show that 74.6% of U.S. moms breastfeed - but not for long. Only 44.3% breastfeed for 6 months, the minimum amount of time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. A tiny 23.8% breastfeed for a year, the optimum period according to the AAP.

Sociologists Phyllis Rippeyoung and Mary Noonan conducted the research. They noted that many breastfeeding moms leave the workplace for years following childbirth. This raises questions about how American employers treat new mothers. European office buildings routinely provide a lactation room or on-site child care.  But here, where there is less on-site support for breastfeeding moms, “less-privileged women are less likely to be seen as good mothers,” the authors write. Lower income women often have no choice but to go back to work. And for those moms, breastfeeding at work is often not an option.

The 2010 health care reform act requires employers to give nursing mothers break time and a place to pump – but only when there are 50 or more employees.

Did you feel forced to give up breastfeeding when you went back to work? Or did you choose not to go back to work and pay the price in earnings?


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