Status of Legislative Efforts to Promote and Protect Breastfeeding and the Provision of Human Milk for Women Returning to Work in the First Postpartum Year.

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Breastfeed Med

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INTRODUCTION: Women account for over 50% of the workforce in the United States with many working women being of childbearing age. The United States does not provide long paid parental leave, thus mothers who choose to breastfeed are confronted with the reality of combining breastfeeding and returning to work. Return to work is reported to negatively impact breastfeeding exclusivity and duration. While the existing federal law protects some women, not all women have legal support to breastfeed or express milk at work. Exemptions to the federal law include limitations related to the employee's status, classification of employer, total number of employees and the employer's annual revenue. This study aimed to examine existing city-level legislation protecting the rights of women to breastfeed or express milk at their place of employment during the postpartum period.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Prospective descriptive study with survey. The national sample includes the three largest cities of each state and the capital city of the United States (Washington, DC) for a total of 151 cities. The data were collected in a tiered approach with three phases: (1) assessment of city website, (2) e-mail to city mayor's office, and (3) telephone follow-up with the city's office.

RESULTS: Only 2/151 (1.3%) of cities had specific legislation outlining the protections for all breastfeeding women in the workplace.

CONCLUSIONS: This research demonstrates a clear need for political action to increase the number of women who have workplace regulations to protect breastfeeding.


Breast Feeding, Breast Milk Expression, Cities, Female, Humans, Local Government, Postpartum Period, Prospective Studies, Return to Work, Surveys and Questionnaires, United States, Women, Working, Workplace



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