Breastfeeding Friendly Workplaces Influences Breastfeeding Duration

The percentage of mothers returning to work after delivery within 3 months has increased in the last 50 years. [1]  With 1 in 4 women returning to work within 10 days after birth, one-third returning after three months, and another third by six months. [2]  Working mothers continue to be among the fastest growing segment of the U.S. labor force with 25.1 million or 69.9 percent of mothers with children under the age of 18 actively participating in the labor force, sparking a need for breastfeeding friendly policies and private lactation spaces for working mothers. [2]

In 2011, the U.S. Surgeon General announced her “Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding”.  Although most new mothers plan to breastfeed and are aware that breastfeeding protects the health of their babies and themselves, there are multiple barriers that discourage a mother from breastfeeding successfully and providing breast milk to her newborn for the first year of the newborn’s life. [4]  Many mothers fall short of reaching their long-term breastfeeding goals because of numerous barriers.

What are the barriers mothers encounter when they attempt to continue breastfeeding for one year?  Lack of support lactation programs for employees, lack of accommodation to breastfeed or express milk at the workplace, lack of babies at the workplace and breastfeeding accommodations for childcare.  Employer’s breastfeeding support is essential for long-term breastfeeding duration.  The proportion of employers that have worksite lactation support programs was last reported as 25% in 2009, but the Healthy People 2020 target was 38%. [4]

Breastfeeding support from worksites is critical as women return to work.  Employers should provide clean places for mothers to pump and store their express breast milk during working hours.  Employers should also maintain high-quality lactation support programs for employees.

In 2008, the Office on Women’s Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created a comprehensive program designed to educate employers in relation to the value of supporting breastfeeding employees in the workplace, known as the Business Case for Breastfeeding (BCB). [5]

The Business Case for Breastfeeding six-part plan is designed to approach healthcare and non-profit settings, large businesses, small businesses and educational settings to increase the capacity of workplaces that support breastfeeding employees and their families. [5]

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2018 Breastfeeding Report Card, 83.2% of mothers in the United States start out breastfeeding, only 57.6% were breastfeeding at 6 months, and 35.9% were breastfeeding at 12 months. [3]  This decrease in duration rates spark the need for increased breastfeeding-friendly businesses.

Breastmilk is the optimal food for infants, excluding a few very rare conditions.  Breastfeeding accommodation is beneficial for businesses, families, and the economy.  For employers, providing lactation support experiences an impressive return on investment, which includes lower health care costs, absenteeism, and turnover rates, as well as improved morale, job satisfaction, and productivity.


  1. Livingston G, Bialik K. 7 facts about U.S. moms. Pew Research Center. Published 2018. Accessed October 18, 2018.
  2. S. Department of Labor: Women’s Bureau. Working mothers issue brief. Published 2016. Accessed October 18, 2018.
  3. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Breastfeeding Report Card, 2018. Published 2018. Accessed October 18, 2018.
  4. S. Department of Health and Human Services – 2011 Surgeon General
  5. The Business Case Breastfeeding

Esther March-Singleton


Esther March-Singleton has charisma and a natural gift for educating women and healthcare professionals. It was through her experiences and trials as a wife and mother of three, that brought out her passion for helping other women close the gap with the difficulties encountered during breastfeeding. Esther has a been in the healthcare field working as a nurse for over 30 years and over 19 years as an educator. Esther is the owner of A Mother’s Choice Breastfeeding Services, which provides an array of resources and tools to successful breastfeeding experiences. As a CAPPA CLE® instructor, she would like for you to gain knowledge through presenting evidence based information and to pass on her legacy to you as you help other women overcome breastfeeding challenges.

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1 thought on “Breastfeeding Friendly Workplaces Influences Breastfeeding Duration”

  1. loved your article Esther. Am so sorry this is the true story in the US. So hard on mothers to return back to work so soon.

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