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ABSTRACT

A group of primiparas who combined breast-feeding and employment are described in terms of how they felt about the experience, the difficulties they encountered, factors that affected their total duration of breast-feeding, and patterns of feeding while separated from their infant. These women are contrasted with primiparas who weaned prior to returning to work and those who remained homemakers. Of the 619 women included in the analyses, 499 (80.6%) of the women returned to work or school by 12 months postpartum and 288 (46.5%) continued to breast-feed after returning to work. Women who combined breast-feeding and employment were older, had more years of education, worked fewer hours per week, and more worked in professional jobs than those who weaned prior to returning to work. A number of women who chose to express breast milk only at home thought they would have had problems with having enough time and finding a place to express and to store expressed milk had they tried to express breast milk at work. The overwhelming majority of women who combined breast-feeding and employment felt that it was worth the trouble, that they would recommend it to others, and that they had done something special for their infants that no one else could do. The findings suggest that nursing interventions and workplace accommodations could assist more women to experience the benefits and rewards of continuing to breast-feed after returning to employment.