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Keywords:

  • breastfeeding;
  • working mothers;
  • lactation accommodation;
  • workplace

Introduction

The purpose of this study was to assess current lactation accommodations in a workplace environment and to examine the association between the different dimensions of support and the duration of exclusive breastfeeding.

Methods

A survey was conducted with employees of a higher-education institution and clients of an obstetric hospital in New Jersey. Factor analysis identified dimensions of workplace support. The dimensions were correlated with the duration of exclusive breastfeeding using Pearson's r correlation analysis.

Results

One hundred and thirteen working mothers participated in the study. The mean (SD) number of working hours of the participants was 34.3 (2.8) hours per week. Participants were primarily white (89.4%), older (mean age, 33.8 [6.0] years), highly educated (>82% above college graduate), and married (92%). Participants indicated that in their workplaces, breastfeeding was not common, breast pumps were not available, and on-site day care was not always an option. The analysis identified 4 dimensions of breastfeeding accommodation: break time, workplace environment, technical support, and workplace policy. Technical support (r = 0.71, = .01) and workplace environment (r = 0.26, = .01) were significantly associated with the duration of exclusive breastfeeding.

Discussion

Employers can strengthen technical support and workplace environment to encourage breastfeeding continuation in working mothers. New federal laws should consider specific guidelines for minimum requirements for functional lactation support to achieve comprehensive breastfeeding benefits.